The debate on New Jersey’s proposed ban of the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035 was captured on a NJ101.5 Town Hall on Thursday night, with sides both for and against detailing their respective positions.
The expert panel for ‘Flipping the Switch: Are You Ready” broadcast hosted by Eric Scott included NJBIA Deputy Chief Government Affairs Officer Ray Cantor; Environment New Jersey State Director Doug O’Malley; ChargEVC CEO Pam Frank; and Jim Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers (NJCAR).
Sen. Vin Gopal (D-11) also called into the 1-hour long program.
The rebroadcast can be found here.
Here is a small sample of the positions taken by the panelists:
Doug O’Malley, State Director, Environment New Jersey
“We are really at an inflection point of trying to figure out: ‘Can we follow the science to reduce the amount of fossil fuels that we’re burning to be able to have a state that is around?’
“Rutgers University estimates that sea level rise will be up to two feet by 2050 and up to six feet by 2100. That is real cost. There are literally 250,000 homes that could be inundated along the Jersey Shore. That is obviously not going to go away if we just stick our heads in the sand.
“And that’s why it’s critical that we have states around the country, including here in New Jersey, that are taking action on climate change and to figure out how to reduce fossil fuels and get us on to more clean, renewable sources of energy.”
Ray Cantor, Deputy Chief Government Affairs Officer, NJBIA
“We recognize that we do need to decarbonize. The only question is: How do we do it? How quickly do we do it? And at what cost and what offsets are we going to accept?
“If this was easy, we would have done it a long time ago. It’s is not easy. Our entire society has been built on having abundant and affordable energy. Everything that we do is based on having energy and for the last 150 years. That has been fossil fuels.
“Energy growth is going to continue throughout the century. We’re going to add about two billion people to this planet in the next 30 or 40 years. Those people are going to need more energy. But there will be an inversion. Clean energy, renewables, wind, nuclear hopefully, will at some point surpass fossil fuels. But it’s not going to be in 10 years. It can’t be in 10 years. It’s going to be in much longer period of time.”
Pam Frank, CEO, ChargEVC
“Transitioning to electric vehicles has big benefits for everyone in New Jersey, not just the people that drive EVs. To put a finer point on this, the benefits outweigh the costs by a factor of four through 2050. And that’s based on a comprehensive inventory of benefits and costs.
“If you own an EV, it’s going to cost you a lot less to fuel that EV and to maintain that EV. There’s a lot that gets talked about regarding the affordability of electricity. Look at electric rates in comparison to annual inflation rates like gas at the pump, which is about 10%. Look at food at home, which is 4.65%. Home rentals is 4.21%. And guess where New Jersey’s electric rates are. Down at 2.38%.
“That’s because electricity is a regulated item. Gasoline at the pump is not. And with rates and rate structure, we’ve got tool to be able to make sure that we’re not placing burdens on those that cannot afford to pay for electric.”
Jim Appleton, President, New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers (NJCAR)
“The one thing (missing from this discussion) is how this is going to land with consumers? This goes for all government regulations. Governments can mandate. And in the auto sector, automakers will build. And the auto retailers, who I represent, will stock those vehicles and they will offer them for sale.
“But the air doesn’t get cleaner and none of the benefits we are looking to achieve here with this electrification of the transportation sector are going to be achieved unless consumers actually buy these vehicles.
“Automakers have spent hundreds of billions of dollars designing, building, retooling to meet electrification. New Jersey new car dealers alone have spent $150 million this year buying equipment, tools and training their personnel to meet the challenges for electrification and next year it will be double that. But what we’ve seen is EV sales have hit the wall. Right now, new car dealers have three times as many days of inventory of EVs on their lot as internal combustion vehicles. That is because the early adopters have adopted.”