Vin Gopal, a Democratic senator from District 11 with a history of support for environmental protections in New Jersey, posted an op-ed on Friday warning of the unintended consequences of Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed ban of the sale of new gas cars in the state by 2035.
Former state Assemblyman John Burzichelli, now running for Senate in District 3 and an electric vehicle owner himself, also told the state DEP this week that such mandate won’t work for New Jersey residents.
And Republicans have already come out against the ban for its impacts on the economy and its overreach.
So, what does that say about the administration’s heavy-handed approach to increase EV ownership, without legislative input?
“It tells me this discussion is really about ideology over policy,” said NJBIA Deputy Chief Government Affairs Officer Ray Cantor. “And the Advanced Clean Cars II rule is bad public.
“I think the more people who understand this isn’t just about 2035, that this is about affordability for many New Jersey residents, and an increasing the number of people who will not be able to afford a vehicle in just a few short years, the more will come out against it.”
In his op-ed in the Asbury Park Press on Friday, Gopal said although he supports New Jersey’s transition to clean energy, “Murphy’s proposed ban is not feasible and does not advance the best interest of our state’s consumers.”
“The governor’s proposal is also a new transportation tax on seniors, veterans, students and working families across New Jersey,” Gopal said. “That’s because electric vehicles are, on average, a more expensive upfront investment than gas-powered cars.
“This doesn’t even count the additional expenses associated with installing home charging units, on average between $1,150-2,750, or hardships for urban families who park their vehicles on the street at night without plentiful public EV charging stations.
“Our state already faces an affordability crisis. Removing the freedom of consumer choice and market competition will only drive-up costs and price out many working families and younger workers from the car market,” Gopal wrote.
Gopal urged the Murphy administration to pull back the ACCII rule and allow the Legislature to have some input.
“We need to take this opportunity to build consensus and make sure every New Jersey resident has a stake in the future of our clean energy transition,” Gopal wrote.
“The unintended consequences of requiring the sale of all-electric vehicles and its potential negative impacts on New Jersey families are simply too great.”
In a DEP public comment period hearing on Thursday, which did include words of support from the environmental community, Burzichelli explained that the purchase of an automobile is either the largest or second largest investment a person makes, depending on whether you own a home.
“There are so many components here, that if we’re going to say as a state public policy, we’re going to mandate that by 2035 new gasoline vehicles are not sold, it’s going to have a chilling effect in areas that maybe the academic view of this is not being taken into consideration,” Burzichelli added.
On the Republican side, Senate Republican Leader Anthony M. Bucco said last month that the rule is going too far, too fast, and will be too expensive for lower- and middle-class families.
“If vehicle manufacturers are only allowed to sell EVs in the State, there will come a time when EVs are the only choice for our residents unless they take their business out of State,” said Bucco (R-25).
“These extreme energy policies are going too far, too fast, and will cost working families too much to implement successfully. Consumers should have the option to purchase and drive EVs, hybrids, and gas-powered vehicles. The government has no right to limit the choice of consumers.”
During DEP’s virtual public hearing on Thursday, Cantor said the Murphy administration’s proposed ban of new gas-powered cars by 2035 will have numerous negative short-term and long-term economic impacts on many New Jersey residents, including an increasing number of people who will no longer be able to afford to drive.
“When you make cars unaffordable, you’re going to end up with a lot of people – much more than we have right now – who cannot afford to own an automobile,” Cantor said. “New Jersey is not California. Automobiles are essential for our way of life in New Jersey – to get to the supermarket, to go to the shore, to visit your doctor.
“We cannot tell people, as California is telling, that your only solution if you’re a low- or moderate-income person and you can’t afford a car is to rideshare or buy a bike or hopefully there’s an EV bus in your neighborhood. That’s not a solution the Department should be putting forth.”
NJBIA recently launched a campaign to stop the Murphy administration’s ban of sale of new gas cars by 2035, as the ramp up to that goal starts with model year 2027 vehicles.
The ACCII rule calls for New Jersey to have 43% of new car sales be EVs, with a small percentage of hybrids allowed. Currently, 8% of new car sales in New Jersey are EVs.
“This is an issue that’s going to happen within the next three years and it’s going to have an immediate impact in limiting the availability of all cars, even if they’re not EVs,” Cantor said. “It’s going to drive the costs of those ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles, and it’s going to drive the price up of used cars as well.
“It’s just a matter of supply and demand.”