In Brief

Governor Murphy announces rule requiring electric car sales

By: - July 17, 2023 6:32 pm

The rule mirrors regulations adopted in California and would require electric vehicles to account for a growing share of car manufacturers' sales, reaching 100% in 2035. (Edwin J. Torres/NJ Governor’s Office)

Gov. Phil Murphy announced the filing of an administrative rule that would require car manufacturers to ramp up sales of electric vehicles before barring them from producing fossil fuel vehicles altogether in 2035.

The rule, which Murphy said he expects will be published on Aug. 21, mirrors regulations adopted in California and would require electric vehicles to account for a growing share of car manufacturers’ sales, reaching 100% in 2035.

“Through the adoption of zero-emissions vehicle standards, New Jersey can reduce its greatest source of climate-damaging emissions, improve air quality and public health, and support a growing clean-tech marketplace that will create even more green jobs in New Jersey and beyond,” Shawn LaTourette, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, said in a statement.

Though the rule has not been released, it’s expected to call for 35% of manufacturers’ vehicle sales to be electric vehicles beginning in 2026, increasing by between 6% and 8% each year until 2035.

Murphy said the rule would not impose any requirements on consumers or car dealerships, but the rule would necessarily decrease the supply of fuel-consuming cars. The rule would only apply to light-duty vehicles, or vehicles weighing roughly less than 10,000 pounds.

The U.S. Census Bureau, Environmental Protection Administration, and Federal Highway Administration use different definitions of “light-duty vehicle,” and it’s unclear which the state would incorporate. It’s also unclear whether the rules change would apply to light-duty trucks.

Though states are generally barred from setting their own emission standards, California enacted its rule through a carveout in the Clean Air Act that allows it to seek waivers from the Environmental Protection Agency.

A separate portion of the federal law allows other states to adopt rules identical to the Golden State’s under certain circumstances. At least five states — New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Oregon, and Washington — have adopted emission rules identical to California’s.

Opposition to the proposal is expected to mirror the stiff opposition that has met other rules proposals seeking to cut carbon emitted by buildings and some household appliances, like air conditioning and heating systems. Some of that opposition was in plain view Monday.

“While we should all work to reduce carbon emissions, the ban of gas-powered cars in such an expedited time frame does not take costs or feasibility into account — and it is likely to result in a major increase in New Jersey residents who actually won’t be able to afford to drive,” Ray Cantor, deputy chief government affairs officer at the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, said in a statement.

The public comment period on the rule, which will open when the proposal is published, is expected to run into late October.

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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.