Maine rejects sweeping electric vehicle mandate in blow to governor's climate agenda

Maine’s top environmental regulator rejected a proposed state electric vehicle (EV) mandate in a surprise vote, bucking climate concerns voiced by eco groups and Democrats.

The Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) turned down the so-called 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% of new car purchases in the state be electric by 2028 and 82% be electric by 2032.

“The Maine Board of Environmental Protection received nearly 1,800 comments from the people of Maine and nearly 84% were not in favor of this EV mandate,” Maine Senate Republican Leader Trey Stewart told Fox News Digital. “Maine is far too rural with far too few charging stations, and many Mainers are also concerned about the reliability of these vehicles in our extreme cold-weather months.”

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Democratic Maine Gov. Janet Mills is pursuing a sweeping climate agenda, pushing both vehicle electrification and green energy development. (Getty Images)

According to BEP filings, earlier this year, the state received a total of 1,783 public comment letters with just 287 supporting the Advanced Clean Cars rule. A whopping 1,496 letters were filed 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 Rep. Jared Golden, who represents a largely rural congressional district.

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“Affordable transportation is a requirement, not a luxury, in rural Maine,” Golden said in a social media post on X, formerly Twitter, following the vote. “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.”

Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, speaks in Bath, Maine.  (AP Photo/David Sharp, File)

While the Maine BEP was originally slated to vote on adopting the Advanced Clear Car Program in late December, a major windstorm caused widespread power outages statewide, forcing state offices to be closed and the agency’s vote to be indefinitely delayed.

The agency ultimately proposed a slightly modified version of the EV mandate, pushing the start date from 2027 to 2028, and accepted a new round of comments from the public and stakeholders through early February.

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Critics of aggressive EV requirements warned that the Maine power grid is currently unequipped to handle the significantly increased demand and load that would be generated by widespread EV adoption. They also argued that power outages, triggered by storms like the December windstorm, could render large swaths of an electrified transportation sector useless.

Several states have followed suit after California introduced its sweeping EV mandate in 2022. After the mandate was unveiled, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state would continue to “lead the revolution towards our zero-emission transportation future.” (California Gov. Gavin Newsom YouTube channel)

According to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a group that represents major automakers, 5.8% of total car purchases in Maine last year were electric or plug-in hybrid. That figure is less than the national average of 9.3%.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen states have successfully adopted California’s EV mandate regulations unveiled in August 2022. Under California’s plan, 100% of all car purchases must be electric by 2035.

Democratic Maine Gov. Janet Mills, who has pursued an aggressive climate agenda since taking office, did not respond to a request for comment at press time.

Thomas Catenacci is a politics writer for Fox News Digital.

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