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Maine Reinstates ZEV Program

Bangor Daily News. Maine's Board of Environmental Protection unanimously adopted the reinstatement of its Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) program (based on the California ZEV.)

Maine has not been able to comply with the ZEV program in the past, because only fully electric cars, which aren’t practical for Maine’s geography and climate, met the requirements, according to Ron Severance of the Department of Environmental Protection.

California has since changed ZEV requirements to allow hybrids and clean-burning gasoline cars to count toward the 10 percent so long as 250 fuel cell vehicles are on the road nationwide by 2008.

Seven states, including California [and Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont], have ZEV plans in place. The clean vehicles that meet the standards already are on Maine roads, Severance said, but more are needed to reap the environmental benefits.

Automakers who testified at Thursday’s meeting disagreed, arguing that Maine’s plan sets the bar too high, too fast. However, they declined to provide details about their production and sales estimates, saying that the revelation of such information could place them at a competitive disadvantage.

The board decided Thursday that a state compromise to allow automakers the chance to bank credits for compliant vehicles sold over the next five years sufficiently eased the industry's burden to comply with the new requirements, which start in model year 2009.

The legislative background on this is kind of interesting, and is detailed here, a briefing memo from Ron Severance to the Board. In short, in 2000, Maine opted out of the ZEV requirement in its clean air legislation that 10% of all vehicles sold in the state be certified ZEV for the reason cited above. California’s modification of its ZEV plan and the emergence of a healthy market for gasoline-electric hybrids changed the situation, resulting in the reinstatement of the program.

Under the plan, 10% of all the vehicles sold in Maine beginning in 2009 will have to meet the ZEV emissions standards. The Maine Legislature will need to approve the program  before it can be implemented.



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