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The Murphy administration’s proposed ban on the sale of gas-powered vehicles amounts to a “hefty transportation tax” on communities and businesses of color that can least afford it, says John Harmon, president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey. 

In an op-ed published Thursday in Mosaic, a news media website created by NJ Advance Media that covers issues impacting diverse communities, Harmon noted that low-income households already spend more than a quarter of their income on transportation. The electric vehicle (EV) mandate will increase those costs, hurting students, seniors, small businesses and vulnerable communities most, he said. 

“On average, a new EV is a much bigger upfront expense than a comparable gas-powered vehicle,” Harmon said. “And EVs come with additional expenses, like home charging stations, volatile electricity prices, costly batteries, and other maintenance concerns. While some subsidies exist, they are woefully inadequate and not always guaranteed to be there to make up the difference.” 

The governor has prioritized environmental sustainability at the cost of economic equity, when New Jersey’s underserved communities deserve solutions to both, Harmon said. 

“The tremendous costs of mandating only electric vehicle sales, and thus, banning new gas car sales, will result in a hefty transportation tax on the communities and businesses that can least afford it,” he said. 

The Murphy administration’s proposed rule mirrors regulations adopted in California and would require zero-emission electric vehicles to account for a growing share of car manufacturers’ sales each year, reaching 100% in 2035 when new gas-powered cars would be banned. 

“And as there are fewer gas cars on the road – starting in 2027 when the state mandates that 43% of all new cars sold in New Jersey be EVs – the demand and cost for all gas cars goes up,” Harmon said. Used gas-powered cars would become more expensive as these older vehicles become scarcer. 

The ban on gas-powered cars will also negatively impact an estimated 1.2 million people who rent homes, and who are disproportionately people of color, because they cannot install their own home charging stations, Harmon said. 

Renters, who comprise more than one-third of all housing units in New Jersey, are some of the most cost-burdened members of our community and may either be left without options at their property or on the street to charge their vehicles, or face rent increases from landlords that pass the expense onto residents,” Harmon said. 

“Furthermore, the added expense of installing and maintaining charging stations to lure range-anxious consumers will create an unnecessary burden on small business owners across our state,” he said. 

“These challenges are even more difficult for Black entrepreneurs who have less access to capital and more difficulty raising private investment to make major infrastructure investments like expanding electrical lines and installing pricy charging stations at their businesses,” Harmon said.  “While the governor’s staff has openly acknowledged that this ban will drive some commerce out of state, business owners in this state need more certainty that this policy will not drive them out of business.” 

To read the entire op-ed, go here.