Support of LD 655, An Act to Address Climate Change by Reducing Carbon Emissions from State Vehicles
Senator Nangle, Representative Stover, and members of the Committee on State and Local Government, my name is Josh Caldwell. I am the Climate & Clean Energy Outreach Coordinator at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. NRCM has been working for more than 60 years to protect, restore, and conserve Maine’s environment, on behalf of our 25,000 members and supporters. I’m here today to testify in support of LD 655, An Act to Address Climate Change by Reducing Carbon Emissions from State Vehicles.
Maine’s Bipartisan Climate Action Plan identifies reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as “Plan A” in our state’s approach to combatting the climate crisis. More than half of Maine’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector, and as such, the goals laid out to increase the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road in Maine are perhaps the most ambitious of any in the plan. Achieving these goals can start with the state leading by example on vehicle electrification.
The Clean Transportation Roadmap, commissioned in 2021 to establish a pathway for reducing emissions from the transportation sector, identifies vehicle electrification as the most impactful strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. The 3,773 vehicles under State ownership represent a major opportunity to mitigate climate impacts and support the EV infrastructure needed to achieve the vehicle electrification goals laid out in the Climate Action Plan.
Last year, LD 1579, An Act to Transition State and Local Motor Vehicle Fleets to Zero-emission Vehicles, was signed into law. This legislation made great strides toward establishing goals and timetables to increase the percentage of zero-emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles in the State light-duty vehicle fleet. This legislation also set goals for school districts to increase the percentage of zero-emission school buses in Maine, and we’ve seen progress on that front within the past year alone. The goals set out by LD 1579, however, are not binding, and apply only to a portion of the commercially available EV market.
The electric vehicle market is maturing quickly, and electric vehicles in every vehicle class ranging from light- to heavy-duty are commercially available right now. More zero-emission models are coming onto the scene each year, driving down the price of electric vehicles relative to their combustion engine counterparts. The clean energy transition must center around cost-effective solutions, and we are seeing evidence that new zero-emission vehicles often have a lower lifetime cost of ownership than equivalent new combustion engine vehicles. Our survey of electric vehicle owners in 2022 found that more than half of Maine’s EV drivers are saving at least $50/month on fuel costs, and 97% of respondents said their EV is easy and affordable to maintain. A 2022 analysis by Car and Driver found that the three-year cost of a new Ford F-150 Lightning is lower than that of a new Ford F-150 combustion engine truck. Investing in EVs now will result in dividends for the state from a financial and climate perspective.
LD 655 represents an opportunity to build upon the success of LD 1579 and further enable the State to lead by example on combatting climate change and lowering fleet operating costs through vehicle electrification. When appropriate, new vehicles purchased by the State must be zero-emission moving forward. We are open to seeing this guidance phased in over time as the state adjusts to a rapidly expanding EV market.
For these reasons, we urge the Committee to vote Ought To Pass on this important legislation. I am happy to answer any questions you may have.