“Clean Cars/Clean Trucks” Only Risks “Cleaning” Rhode Island of Dealerships and Tax Revenue

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports (Page 11) that as of the fourth quarter of 2022, Rhode Island has fifty dealerships that sell new cars.  Note that this figure does not include dealerships selling new trucks, new buses, new motor homes, new motorcycles, et etera.

Governor Dan McKee’s proposed 2024 budget, Page 158 of the Executive Summary, projects sales tax revenue from “Motor Vehicles” for 2024 at $117,200,000, falling modestly to $103,404,368 for FY 2028.

Now add to the state’s annual budget the income tax it collects on the roughly $200,000,000+ in wages from the thousands of people employed by those dealerships.

Why am I bringing this up?  Because Rhode Island is poised to implement “Advanced Clean Cars II (ACCII) & Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT)” rule which would implement H6055/S0195, passed in May by the Rhode Island General Assembly and signed by Governor McKee [Correction, 12/8/23: ACT and ACCII were not passed by the General Assembly; H6055 was heard and held in committee; the hearing on S0195 was “postponed”. Governor McKee is implementing by executive order.]  ACCII and ACT would

… require that, by 2035, all new cars imported for sale in Rhode Island be non-gas powered.

… actually, non-gas AND non-diesel powered.  In other words, all new vehicles sold in Rhode Island would have to be electric.

Nothing about this initiative is tethered to reality. Car manufacturers have no obligation to make these vehicles.  Rhode Islanders have no obligation to purchase them and lots do not have either the interest or the means to do so.

Rhode Island’s electric grid does not have the capacity to accommodate the corresponding stepped up demand.  Charging infrastructure in the state for cars is woefully inadequate; for big rigs, all but non-existent.

The impact of Rhode Island going to zero emissions will have no impact on global warming, as John Kerry himself has effectively said.

“The United States could go to zero tomorrow—I mean we can’t but if you’re figuratively speaking could go to zero—we’d still have a problem. The world would still have a problem,” Kerry told Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart. He continued, “If China went to zero tomorrow with the United States, we’d still have a problem. …”

With regard to supply, we are watching in real time as manufacturers pull back on the production of electric cars because consumer demand for them has cooled.  No kidding.  People cannot afford them, which even the New York Times acknowledges.

Buyers remain interested in electric vehicles, surveys show, but struggle to afford them. The average price paid for an electric vehicle in the United States was less than $51,000 in September, according to Cox Automotive. That’s a huge decline from last year’s $65,000. But it’s still too high for many new-car buyers, especially as high interest rates have made monthly car payments more expensive.

We learned recently, thanks to the Hummel Report, that the State of Rhode Island itself failed to achieve a 25% change-over of its fleet to “clean” electric vehicles in a ten year timeframe.

If the state itself, with all of its resources, cannot meet even a modest target for changing to electric vehicles, that speaks volumes about the practicality for us ordinary folk and ordinary businesses of complying with ACCII and ACT.

As to practical impact.  What happens if the sale of fossil fuel vehicles are banned but they are not replaced with electric vehicles, either in dealerships because manufacturers stop making them or by Rhode Islanders because they cannot afford them – AS HAS ALREADY STARTED HAPPENING?  With no customers and no inventory, dealerships close or relocate out of state.

In short, if ACCII and ACT are implemented, there is a real risk that Rhode Island won’t get “clean” cars but will get cleaned out of new vehicle dealerships and a whole lot of tax revenue.

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Donna J Cook
7 months ago

Here we go again with bad laws. I’m sick and tired of the General Assembly micro-managing what I buy, drive and cook with, etc. I believe there in session too long. Who do they think they are? Shorter sessions would force them to stop the nonsense.

Citizens in this state can’t afford to pay their rent or find an affordable place to live. So, by all means, force people to give up an affordable gas-powered car for an unaffordable electric car. I should have the right to choose what I drive, where I live, what I buy to cook my food, etc.

Stop micro-managing my life. Enough.

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