Maine environmental officials have received more than 1,700 comments from the public – just since December – about a state proposal to limit the sale of new gas-powered cars and expand sales of electric vehicles.

The comments will be posted online in the next week or two after they are reviewed for content and sorted for relevance, Jeff Crawford, director of the Bureau of Air Quality at the Department of Environmental Protection, said in an email.

The department had previously posted hundreds of comments – most opposed to the rule change – that were submitted last year before a Dec. 21 meeting of the Board of Environmental Protection was rescheduled following a destructive storm.

Because of that delay, the effective date of the proposed vehicle rules was pushed back one year, from 2027 to the 2028 vehicle model year, a move that drew criticism from environmentalists who say climate change demands quick action.

The more recent comments focused on the revised proposal, Crawford said.

The seven-member BEP will consider the plan March 20 at the Augusta Civic Center. The “Advanced Clean Cars II” plan would require zero-emission vehicles to make up 43% of new car sales for 2028 models and 82% of new sales by model year 2032. Those include electric and fuel-cell vehicles, along with a partial credit for plug-in hybrids.


Advocates say gradually eliminating gas-powered cars – a major source of air pollution – is essential if Maine is to reach its zero-carbon goals. The policy has won acceptance in a dozen states, but has met resistance in Connecticut.

Many Mainers had already trashed the idea in written comments to the BEP last year.

“The idea that we could do away with most vehicles with gas engines is delusional, ludicrous and an affront to common sense,” said John Kasten, of Charleston, one of nearly 400 opponents who wrote to state environmental officials. “I haven’t even got time to list all the reasons.”

“The governor was elected to protect and defend our state, not destroy it by pandering to left-leaning climate change ideologues who think they know what is best for our state,” wrote Sally Vose, of Bath.

Rick Saucier, of Etna, was one of nearly 100 individuals and organizations that wrote in support of the EV rule. He urged that it be adopted to limit damage caused by increasingly dangerous storms.

“Maine is already experiencing climate change issues that are negatively impacting our coast and our forests,” he said.


After postponing action, the board reopened the public comment period. Monday was the deadline.

Robert Howe, of Brunswick, asked state officials to go beyond the rule being considered. He said the DEP should set a goal that 100% of new light-duty car sales be electric by 2035.

“Accelerating the sale of electric vehicles is one of the single biggest actions we can take to make a positive impact,” he said.

Critics, meanwhile, have no shortage of arguments against the rule: Finding electric charging stations would be a challenge for motorists who drive across Maine’s expansive rural areas; EVs are generally costlier than conventional cars, and utility grids face questions about their ability to handle rising demand from vehicles and buildings that are electrified. Many critics said the proposal is an attack on their right to buy a vehicle of their choosing.

“EV’s will be a nice boutique vehicle for high-population areas with short travel distances,” Dedham resident Tim Scribner said. “Rural Maine is still not an option.”

Andrew Hill, of Augusta, called the proposal “governmental overreach and contrary to good policy.”

“There is insufficient performance of the electric vehicle batteries, costly imports of expensive metals, lack of infrastructure and inability to meet electricity demands. I object,” he said.

In addition, rule opponents, including most legislative Republicans and car dealers, say the Legislature, not the seven-member appointed board and environmental groups that petitioned the BEP for the rule change, should establish EV policy through legislation.

“You took a petition of 150 people to mess with our way of life,” Shannan Eckstein said. “Enough is enough. We do not need more environmental rules to mess with our way of life. Leave us alone and leave our vehicles alone.”

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