An update by Darrell W. Fuller
It has been all over the news: California, through its extremely powerful California Air Resources Board (CARB), has adopted a new rule which will outlaw the sale of new gasoline-powered light motor vehicles starting in 2035 (used gas-powered vehicles will continue to be bought and sold). It is a noisy shot across the bow of the auto industry, designed primarily to push manufacturers into investing more heavily in EVs, hoping they will become more plentiful and affordable – even if consumers don’t necessarily want them. When carrots don’t work, the government uses a stick. Currently, about one percent of vehicles on the road are completely battery-operated.
But the vehicles are only one leg of a three-legged stool. The other two legs are a sufficient number of charging stations (and the time it takes to charge a vehicle compared with filling a gasoline tank), and a power grid capable of supplying enough electricity to replace all the gas currently consumed by the motoring public.
Just days after this announcement, in a bit of irony, California asked the tiny number of current EV owners to refrain from charging their vehicles because of power strains on the existing grid due to high heat and wildfires.
But I digress. States can choose to adopt California’s motor vehicle efficiency standards rather than enforcing the national standards. Both Oregon and Washington (and about a dozen other states) have historically done so. So, it was not a surprise when politicians in Oregon and Washington immediately announced plans to follow suit. Without much notice, a Rules Advisory Committee (RAC) already providing reports and advice to the Environmental Quality Commission, or EQC, (see here for details on the RAC) began taking public comments on a September 7th at noon (just after the Labor Day holiday) deadline. The RAC includes the Executive Vice President of the Oregon Auto Dealers Association, Greg Remensperger (OVDA is the franchised dealer’s association).
Oregon’s EQC has the authority to adopt the California rule without a public vote or a vote of the Oregon Legislature. Like CARB in California, the EQC has significant power when it comes to air pollutants. In response to the hasty deadline, OVDA submitted an email in opposition to a fast-track approach to adopting the rule. The text of OVDA’s email is below. This will not be the only opportunity to provide public comment. Once DEQ approves the draft language for Oregon’s rule, there will be an extensive public comment period. OVDA will ensure members know how to make their voices heard. I believe DEQ intends to rush the rule to the conclusion before the end of this calendar year.
Even if the rule is rushed to adoption, 2035 is a long way off. This is not a sprint. This is not even a marathon. This is the ultimate triathlon. And, representing all dealers, OVDA will be working with other like-minded organizations to protect your business and your customer’s ability to buy and sell vehicles that meet their needs.
Date: September 7, 2022
I write this emailed public comment on behalf of the Oregon Vehicle Dealer Association. OVDA is Oregon’s largest association of certified motor vehicle dealers and includes franchised dealers, independent dealers, power sports dealers, RV dealers, and boat dealers. We write on behalf of our members, and on behalf of our customers who are always concerned about price, and who always want to choose just the right vehicle for them from the largest possible inventory. We write today because we are concerned about the newly adopted CARB rule and that Oregon is fast-tracking the adoption of a similar rule.
OVDA supports our customer’s ability to choose. We do not support government restrictions on the production or sale of motor vehicles based on the power source. We strongly support the production and sale of a larger variety of vehicles powered by newer, better, and more efficient power plants. Then, customers can choose the vehicle that best serves their values, interests, and needs. But the government should not choose for us in a market-based economy that is the envy of the world.
Further, while the EQC certainly has the statutory authority to adopt the new CARB standard for 2035, we believe it should not. We are concerned about the hasty nature of adopting such a significant proposal. We believe a decision of such magnitude should result from a vote of the citizens, or by affirmative action by the Oregon Legislature.
Thank you for soliciting input on this important discussion.
Darrell W. Fuller