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New York moves to make all new vehicles sales zero emissions by 2035

Don Pollard

New York is moving forward on an effort that would require all new passenger cars, pickups, and SUVs sold in the state to be zero emissions by 2035. Governor Kathy Hochul is directing the state Department of Environmental Conservation to expedite the regulatory process for legislation signed by the Democrat last year. Hochul said it’s a crucial step to electrify the transportation sector and help New York achieve its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050.

The state said the regulations also line up with automakers’ projections for electric vehicle production — and follow a similar move by California.

WAMC's Jim Levulis spoke with Sean Mahar, DEC’s executive deputy commissioner, about the effort.

Mahar: Well, it's National Drive Electric Week here in the state and nation. And we're excited that Governor [Kathy] Hochul has directed DEC to move forward on major regulations to bring on more electric vehicles here to market New York state. And this major regulatory proposal that we're advancing will ensure that by 2035, all vehicles sold in New York state will be zero emission vehicles.

Levulis: And as you mentioned, it is proposed regulation, what is the process for these regulations to take effect?

Mahar: Sure, we'll have additional information going out that will soon be posted and unveiled to New Yorkers. There'll be a public process where they can review the regulations that we have developed and help us ensure that they meet the goals of all New Yorkers, which is to help us tackle climate change, and really tackle what's one of the largest sources of emissions in New York, which is the transportation sector.

Levulis: And yeah, to that point, this is part of New York's overall greenhouse gas emission reduction efforts. How big a part of that goal is this move?

Mahar: Well, this is a major component of our overall efforts through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and the Climate Action Council that's underway. We know that bringing on more electric vehicles is one of the center points of the scoping plan that's in development. And we wanted to make sure we're continuing to jumpstart those efforts and move forward on the major things that we know need to happen now. And that is bringing more electric vehicles onto the market. So this regulation is really setting the stage for New York to continue that leadership on the national level, and really drive the changes that we need to see in the transportation sector.

Levulis: And I understand there is a rebate program that currently exists for consumers looking to buy an electric vehicle. And the plan is for that to continue and expand even is that right?

Mahar: Correct. We have an all-hands-on deck approach, working with our partners at NYSERDA, the Department of Public Service and other agencies, really to maximize the leverage that we can provide to consumers to make the choice to go electric. Obviously, these regulations by 2035 will make that choice easier for them. But in the meantime, we're looking to make sure that we're giving them incentives to purchase now, but also helping municipalities and others bring on the infrastructure that's needed to support these electric vehicles. So we have a municipal zero emission vehicle grant program that's out now. NYSERDA has a number of programs that are available. And it's really just working together, making sure that we're leveraging all the available programs to the best of our ability and for the best interests of consumers as well.

Levulis: And will the supply of these types of vehicles be there? I mean, California is seeking to do this. Vermont is considering a similar move. I understand no one has a crystal ball, but looking at the 2035 all new sales in those states need to be a certain type of vehicle. Is that going to be there?

Mahar: Well, that's why we're working with these regulations to ensure that that is the case. And by setting these regulations in place that also have interim milestones associated with it. We're helping the vehicle manufacturers of the state be able to realize that and through other incentive programs, we're going to make sure that that stockpile of electric vehicles is going to be there for.

Levulis: And those steps if I have it correct, are new light duty vehicle sales to be zero emission vehicles starting with 35% of sales in model year 2026. That bumps up to 68% of sales by 2030. And then 100% by 2035. Is that accurate?

Mahar: Correct.

Levulis: Is there anything in these proposed draft regulations that involves existing vehicles or vehicles that will be sold before 2035, therein vehicles on the road at that point?

Mahar: This just sets the framework for the all the sales of vehicles to be zero emission by 2035. Gas-powered vehicles would still be available through used cars and things like that. But right now, what we're setting is that all cars to be offered for sale that are new will be zero emission vehicles by 2035.
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Jim Levulis