Maine’s state Board of Environmental Protection rejected California’s total ban on gasoline car sales. More than a dozen states have adopted California’s EV mandate regulations unveiled in August 2022, which requires 100 percent of all car purchases to be electric by 2035. The Maine board had been set to adopt the gas car ban in December when a major winter storm and widespread power outages caused a postponement. Three months later the board voted to reject the governor’s proposed EV mandate, even though Governor Janet Mills appointed every member of the board. The Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) received nearly 1,800 comments from the people of Maine, of which nearly 84 percent were not in favor of the EV mandate. Maine has far too few charging stations, is very rural, and many residents are concerned about the reliability of electric vehicles during extreme cold weather.

The Maine BEP turned down the Advanced Clean Cars program after receiving overwhelming opposition from stakeholders and citizens. The proposed program would have closely mirrored regulations approved in California, mandating that at least 51 percent of new car purchases in the state be electric by 2028 and 82 percent be electric by 2032, even more aggressive than Biden’s national goal of 2/3 electric vehicles by 2032. The state received a total of 1,783 public comment letters with just 287 supporting the Advanced Clean Cars rule and 1,496 letters in opposition to the mandate. Among the stakeholders who filed opposition letters were the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, the Maine Automobile Dealers Association and Democratic Maine Representative Jared Golden, who represents a largely rural congressional district. According to Representative Golden, affordable transportation is a requirement, not a luxury, in rural Maine. “Regulations must recognize reality: California-style emissions standards would impose logistic and financial hurdles that Maine isn’t ready to clear. The state BEP made the right decision to reject them.”

Critics of aggressive EV requirements warn that the Maine power grid is currently unequipped to handle the significantly increased demand and load that would be generated by widespread EV adoption. Nationally, EV adoption is expected to double the demand for electricity. Due to the Biden administration’s push for unreliable wind and solar power and premature retirements of existing fossil fuel generators, the grid faces power outages due to a risk of capacity shortfalls. Critics also argue that storms like the December windstorm could render large swaths of an electrified transportation sector useless due to power outages. Maine residents may be noticing the limitations of electric vehicles as the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a group that represents major automakers, indicates that 5.8 percent of total car purchases in Maine last year were electric or plug-in hybrid, which was less than the national average of 9.3 percent.

EPA Reinstates California Waiver

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is empowered to grant California a waiver to implement stricter emissions standards than the federal government if it chooses. The Trump administration had revoked the state’s authority to pursue standards that run counter to federal rules, but in March 2022, Biden’s EPA reinstated California’s authority under the Clean Air Act to implement its own emission standards and EV sales mandates, and allowed other states to adopt California’s rules. On August 25, 2022, the California Air Resources Board announced new regulations banning gas-powered cars, and mandating electric cars, by 2035.

Seventeen states have laws in place that tie their vehicle emissions standards to those set in California. As a result, California’s electric vehicle mandate could impact tens of millions of Americans nationwide. It is estimated that the states adopting California’s 2035 rule represent more than 40 percent of total U.S. car purchases so they will serve as good laboratories for the rest of the states.

House Passed Legislation for Consumer Vehicle Choice

Last year, in a 222-190 vote, the House approved the Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act with 214 Republicans and eight Democrats voting in favor. The bill is not anti-electric vehicle; rather it gives consumers the right to choose what type of vehicle is best for their needs. The Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act, if enacted, would block the EPA from issuing waivers to states seeking to ban or limit internal combustion engine vehicles. The bill is awaiting consideration in the Senate, where it has attracted 13 cosponsors, and is currently with the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. President Biden, however, is likely to veto the bill should it be passed by the Senate.


In late December, a major windstorm caused widespread power outages in Maine, forcing state offices to be closed and the agency’s vote on the Governor’s EV mandate to be delayed. In the ensuing months, Maine residents made it clear that they were against the proposed EV mandate, which resulted in Maine’s state Board of Environmental Protection rejecting it. The power outages showed that the electric grid was vulnerable and that personal transportation would be affected should it occur when the state’s transportation was fully electrified.  Maine may be the first of a number of states that may seek to think twice about California’s EV mandate, which would be fully in effect by 2035—just a decade away. The House of Representatives passed a bill last year that would preserve consumer choice in vehicle selection, but the Senate has yet to vote on it. Biden is likely to veto it should it pass the Senate in his rush to force consumers to buy electric vehicles.

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