California is the only state in the country that may promulgate their own vehicle emission regulations, but 16 other states have adopted the California Air Resources Board (CARB) program. The 16 states are New York (implementation 1993), Massachusetts (1995), Vermont (2000), Maine (2001), Pennsylvania (2001), Connecticut (2008), Rhode Island (2008), Washington (2009), Oregon (2009), New Jersey (2009), Maryland (2011), Delaware (2014), Colorado (2022), Minnesota (2025), Nevada (2025) and Virginia (2025). (Applicable model years are yet to be determined for Minnesota, pending restoration of California authority. These are expected to begin with model year 2025.)
All impacted states should be troubled by the nature of Gov. Newsom’s executive order. Lawmakers from these states would be stripped of the right and responsibility to represent their constituents. Consumers would be deprived of options. Significant discrepancies exist between extreme emission-reduction plans and the realities they would produce in the other states.
For example, these regulations would ban products in all of the New England states except New Hampshire. New Hampshire would become the beneficiary of this poorly thought-out proposal, as residents and businesses would flock to their state for lower costs and larger array of options. Additionally, unlike the population centers of California, 12 of the 16 states deal with harsh winter months that produce heavy snowfalls. California Gov. Newsom’s bans will eliminate the option of reliable vehicles that perform well in these conditions.
Lastly, California is the largest state in the country. While the costs to California would be shared among millions of residents, and the geography limits cross-border competition, most of the 16 other states would put themselves at a further economic disadvantage with neighboring states if these bans were implemented.
With inflation at a 40-year high, supply chain delays and COVID-19 impacting everyday life, I believe that real-world events have demonstrated these bans are the wrong idea at the wrong time. Even with a vaccine for COVID-19, national and regional economies continue to take years to achieve full recovery. Adding the painful and unnecessary financial burden of banning crucial and necessary products onto the backs of households and businesses will hamper any recovery and prolong the pain and suffering.
These California bans would hurt poor and rural residents more significantly than their higher-income and affluent urban peers. People drive out of necessity. Higher costs would have to come out of other areas of household budgets, leading to hard choices for people already struggling to make ends meet. It will also mean that small businesses that transport goods or provide services will have higher operating costs. Those increased expenses would ultimately be passed along to consumers through higher-priced products.
Authorization to join in California’s bans is not coming from elected legislatures or the people through direct democracy. It comes from governors and unelected bureaucrats, regardless of legal requirements. It sets a bad precedent for state governments to circumvent a process which incorporates citizens’ input. Please understand that, at its core, banning products during a 40-year high of inflation rates and during a global pandemic is a poor concept that is fundamentally economically damaging and places an unnecessary financial burden on people who can least afford it.
John R. Toedtman
Executive director, Caesar Rodney Institute
Editor’s note: This letter was signed by 27 other people and can be found here.