Stronger Clean Car and Truck Standards for Maine Will Reduce Air Pollution, Expand Access to Electric Vehicles

An electric vehicle is charging

June 15, 2023 (AUGUSTA, ME) – The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will consider two new clean vehicle standards that will provide Mainers with cleaner air and greater access to zero-emission cars and trucks.

Adopting the standards, known as the Advanced Clean Cars II and Advanced Clean Trucks rules, will help meet the growing demand for electric vehicles and ensure Mainers have access to a greater number of models, helping to lower sticker prices and hasten the transition away from expensive and polluting gas-powered cars and trucks.

The DEP was notified of the petitions signed by hundreds of Maine voters and submitted by the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), and Sierra Club at their June 15 meeting.

“Toxic pollution from cars and trucks overheats the planet and clogs the air in our communities,” said CLF Senior Attorney Emily Green. “The Advanced Clean Cars II and Advanced Clean Trucks rules would help us tackle the climate crisis while cleaning up the air for people and families in Maine. It’s time for our state leaders to step up and walk the walk when it comes to slashing pollution from vehicles.”

A number of other states including Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York have already adopted the stronger clean car and truck standards, with several others considering or already pursuing passage this year. In joining these states, Maine will keep its competitive edge by ensuring residents and local businesses have access to the newest models of zero-emission vehicles as they become available.

“Every Mainer should have the freedom to drive a pollution-free car or truck and say goodbye to paying for gas if they want to,” said NRCM Climate & Clean Energy Director Jack Shapiro. “Transitioning to zero-emission vehicles is a win-win-win for the health of Maine’s people, Maine families’ budgets, and our environment.”

Putting more electric trucks on the road will also improve the health of all Maine residents, especially those living near highways or warehouse areas, because gas-powered trucks account for a disproportionate amount of pollution. In 2020, medium- and heavy-duty trucks represented only 6% of the vehicles on the road but generated more than 55% of the toxic emissions from tailpipes.

“By investing in cleaner cars and reducing harmful pollution we are investing in Maine people, ensuring our most vulnerable populations – including children – have cleaner air,” said Rebecca Boulos, executive director of the Maine Public Health Association. “Burning gasoline releases greenhouse gases that worsen air quality, increasing the incidence and prevalence of respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, and contribute to climate change.”

More than half of Maine’s greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels come from tailpipe pollution emitted by gas-powered cars and trucks. Increasing access to zero-emission cars and trucks is a central strategy of Maine’s Climate Action Plan, a top recommendation of the Clean Transportation Roadmap, and is necessary to hit climate targets set by bipartisan majorities in the Legislature.

“Maine has an incredible opportunity – and responsibility – to act on climate, improve air quality, and provide economic benefits by adopting these two important programs to get cleaner cars, trucks, and buses on roads. Let’s get moving to address the outsized impact that transportation pollution has on the health and well-being of communities in Maine,” said Matthew Cannon, State Conservation & Energy Director at Sierra Club Maine.

More Mainers than ever are driving electric cars, according to NRCM’s latest statewide survey of electric vehicle owners. In the survey, electric car owners praised their vehicles for offering lower costs, reliability, and a more enjoyable driving experience.

The Advanced Clean Trucks petition can be found here, and the Advanced Clean Cars petition can be found here.