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House Republican Caucus Takes Fight Against California Car Bans to the House Floor

April 2nd, 2023 by WCBC Radio

The House Republican Caucus today continued their fight against the adoption of California’s radical environmental policies to ban the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles in Maryland.

Earlier this month, Governor Wes Moore announced that Maryland would move forward with the automatic enactment of California’s ban on the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles. Now, HB 230/SB 224 – Clean Trucks Act of 2023 will expand that ban to the vehicles that our businesses need to provide services and deliver goods.

“We have heard from citizens around the state who are furious that the Governor has chosen to adopt a reckless environmental policy created in California,” said House Minority Leader Jason Buckel. “Now, this General Assembly is doubling down on a bad decision and adopting California’s ban on the sale of new mid- and heavy-duty trucks. This will drastically increase the cost of new vehicles at a time of record inflation and when many economic forecasts are predicting a recession in the coming months. It is nonsensical to move forward with such a bill at such a time.”

The Clean Trucks Act requires the Maryland Department of the Environment to adopt regulations that include the California Advance Clean Truck regulations which currently require 40-75% of new mid- and heavy-duty vehicle sales to be electric vehicles by 2035. The phase-in will begin in the model year 2027, the calendar year 2026.

California has recently been considering a full ban on gas and diesel-powered mid- and heavy-duty trucks by 2040. Under the Clean Trucks Act, Maryland will also adopt this full ban should California make that change.

Caucus members offered a series of amendments to fight the bill.

There is a global concern that the materials needed to create lithium batteries for electric vehicles are often mined by children in deplorable working conditions. Delegate Wayne Hartman offered an amendment that would require manufacturers to certify that all raw materials and components of batteries were extracted by workers operating in compliance with federal labor & environmental laws. 

“Batteries for these mid- and heavy-duty trucks are massive. They are much larger than those for regular electric vehicles,” said Delegate Hartman. “How many children will it take to mine this material? How many children will suffer?”

The bill and the California regulations also make it unclear whether or not Maryland dealerships will be prohibited from selling gasoline-powered vehicles if the electric vehicle goals are not met. Delegate Jesse Pippy offered an amendment to specifically state that nothing in the bill could be construed to prohibit Maryland car dealers from selling gasoline-powered vehicles.

“Gas-powered trucks will still be purchased and put into service in Maryland,” said Delegate Pippy. “Marylanders will instead take their money out of state and make these purchases. Meanwhile, it is our local dealerships that will suffer as they are forced to try to sell these electric vehicles that are significantly more expensive than their gasoline or diesel counterparts.”

Delegate Buckel offered an amendment that would prohibit the adoption of any California ban until the completion of studies on the impact on Maryland’s economy, the state’s budget, and the electric grid. The amendment would also require an affirmative vote by the General Assembly before such a ban could move forward. The amendment is based on House Bill 487, a Republican initiative that has not been brought to a vote in Committee.

“We have to know what the impact to our state is going to be, and how this is going to financially impact our citizens,” said Buckel. “In California, it is the rich that are buying Teslas. Here in Maryland, it will be the rich people buying Teslas. We keep hearing about the importance of equity and fairness this session but adopting California’s radical bans on electric cars and trucks will hurt the poor in Maryland – that is neither equitable nor fair.”

All the Republican-offered amendments were defeated on party-line votes.