PROVIDENCE – House Minority Leader Michael Chippendale, a Republican representing District 40 in Glocester, Coventry and Foster, issued a statement regarding the Gov. Dan McKee’s plan to adopt regulations for manufacturers selling cars to Rhode Island consumers.
McKee announced Wednesday, May 10 that Rhode Island would join seven states, including Massachusetts, in adopting a policy aimed at reining in carbon pollution by slashing tailpipe emissions from cars, trucks, and SUVs.
“The House Republican Caucus is on the record as being vehemently opposed to the Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council – a group of unelected bureaucrats – being allowed to create policies that will financially cripple the citizens of Rhode Island,” said Chippendale. “During this period of record inflation, outdated and failing electrical grid infrastructure, and record-high electricity rates, Rhode Island citizens are already suffering enough under these misguided policies.”
“When combined with the poor road conditions, inadequate public transportation, homelessness, housing shortages and an ever-growing fixed income population – today’s announcement by the governor to embrace these unrealistic consumer vehicle regulations demonstrates a concerning disconnect between the governor and the people he governs,” said Chippendale.
The minority leader noted that as recently as 2021, McKee vetoed an unfriendly consumer renewable energy bill, H 6066, because the bill would have shifted significant electric grid upgrades to ratepayers, stating, “Before the State considers shifting significant additional transmission costs to ratepayers… we need to understand how these additional costs fit within the suite of investments necessary to achieve cost-effective, comprehensive, economy-wide decarbonization.”
“The governor does not seem to be using the same prudent consumer protection standard from his 2021 veto for the ban on new gas vehicles by 2035,” said Chippendale.
A release from the representative noted that according to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, in 2022 only 5.2 percent of vehicle sales were for electric vehicles. Nationally, the average price for electric vehicles has climbed from $49,785 in June 2021 to $61,448 in Dec. 2022. In contrast, the average subcompact car sold for $25,094 in Dec. 2022. Since 2021, electric vehicles prices have risen on average $5,000 per year.
Chippendale said that a recent EPA study noted that total U.S. emissions are 7 percent lower since 1990 and the primary greenhouse gases emitted by human activities, has decreased by 8 percent. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Rhode Island’s total current portion of U.S. greenhouse emissions were negligible at 0.2% for carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions.
According to Chippendale, the new regulations by the McKee administration do not consider the following concerns:
- A viable replacement for gas tax revenue to repair Rhode Island’s consistently worst in the nation rated roads and infrastructure
- Increased road wear and maintenance costs due to the growing burden on our roadways from heavier electric vehicles. For example, the electric vehicles from Ford, Volvo and Toyota are 33 percent heavier in weight than the gas-powered versions of the same vehicles. The governor and others have used the vehicle weight argument to justify Truck Tolls in the past, why are they not considering the weight increase in passenger vehicles?
- Road safety – according to the National Bureau of Economic Research “being hit by a vehicle that is 1,000 pounds heavier results in a 47% increase in the baseline fatality probability.”
- In January 2023, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chair Jennifer Homendy raised the alarm on vehicular weight during her keynote speech to the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting stating: “I’m concerned about the increased risk of severe injury and death for all road users from heavier curb weights and [the] increasing size, power, and performance of vehicles on our roads, including electric vehicles.”
- The financial costs to homeowners, small businesses and taxpayers for public infrastructure that will be needed for electric vehicle charging stations and electric grid modernization to handle increased electric demand.
- The lack of recycling facilities and the environmental disposal hazards from lithium-ion batteries and other heavy metals.
- The increase in non-exhaust emissions produced from the wearing down of brakes, tires, and road surfaces, and from the resuspension of road dust caused by heavier electrical vehicle weight; and the inefficiency of electric vehicles during the winter months. Both Consumer Reports and AAA studies found that when the temperature drops to 20° F and below, the heating system used to warm the inside of an electric vehicle, reduces the average driving range for electric vehicles by 41 percent.
“It also should be noted that it remains unclear if these new ‘California’ emission standards would survive a constitutional challenge under the Commerce Clause, and if the federal government will continue to grant California’s waiver from the federal emission standards required under the Clean Air Act,” said Chippendale. “Rhode Islanders can no longer shoulder the inequitable and costly policies of the McKee and Biden Administrations. Rhode Islanders will not relinquish to unrealistic deadlines, nor have their consumer freedoms abolished to the whims of a steering committee that is out of touch with their day to day struggles.”