Is New Jersey coming after your (non-EV) car? 2 sides offer insight, opinion

Debating merits of EV-only policy for new cars in 2035 — even though it’s a dozen years (and a few governors) away from implementation

The push toward mandating electric vehicles in New Jersey: It’s a great talking point, but is the policy as clear cut as some make it seem?

Depends on whom you ask.

Eric DeGesero. (File photos)

Eric DeGesero, on behalf of the Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey and New Jersey Propane Gas Association, brought the issue back into the public debate Monday when he said Gov. Phil Murphy’s desire to create an EV-only new car market in 2035 will be devasting to the New Jersey economy.

And not actually feasible.

“The governor’s mandate on EVs will result in New Jerseyans paying more for their vehicles and fewer residents being able to afford a car at all,” he said. “Furthermore, there is no way our fragile energy grid is capable of handling the surge of electricity demand.

“As a result, the California Clean Car mandate will ensure California-style rolling brownouts throughout the state.”

Kate Klinger, the director of the Governor’s Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy, has said such an interpretation is an oversimplification of the issue.

Kate Klinger.

In an interview with ROI-NJ last month, Klinger said the governor’s goals on EVs are not as broad-based as opponents are making it seem. The reason: Most cars that are purchased are previously owned vehicles, so the regulation does not apply to those sales.

“There’s a lot of misinformation about what this order does,” she said. “It requires that new vehicle sales in the state are zero emission by 2035. More than 50% of vehicles that are sold in the state are used. And there is absolutely no change to the used vehicle market.”

Of course, if you eventually eliminate the sale of new ICE vehicles (the term for cars with internal combustion engines), you eventually will eliminate ICE used vehicles.

While agreeing with the concept, Klinger pushed back on that premise, too.

“You could get a hybrid, you could get an EV, you could go to another state that has not adopted (this regulation),” she said. “New ICE vehicles purchased in New Jersey — I’ll give you that, that would not happen. But choices abound.”

Klinger said it’s another big-picture moment on energy.

“I think what we are looking toward is the opportunity to build a market around these cleaner and greener technologies,” she said. “The market is moving in a certain direction, and some people don’t like the directionality of that movement.”

DeGesero would push back on that. He said his groups are all about finding ways to utilize more green energy options. It’s the mandates he’s against.

As is the case with the electrification of appliances, he said his groups want dialogue — not dictation. He’s worried the governor aims to mandate these actions.

“In 2020, Gov. Murphy signed a law incentivizing the purchase of EVs,” he said. “Dissatisfied when we, the people of New Jersey, didn’t buy as many EVs as he thought we should, today he decided to issue his EV mandate, which bans the sale of new gas cars starting in 2035.

“As it relates to stoves, furnaces and water heaters, the BPU has stated they are only offering ‘incentives’ to electrify. But that’s only until Gov. Murphy becomes dissatisfied that we didn’t buy as many heat pumps and electric induction stoves as he thinks we should have.”

State pushes back on appliance fears

Kate Klinger, the director of Governor’s Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy, told ROI-NJ that the recent BPU efforts on decarbonization have been misinterpreted — and the subject of misinformation.

Because of this, DeGesero’s groups support bills in the state Senate (S2671) and Assembly (A3935), to stop mandates.

Klinger pushes back on that idea, too.

“The governor is not going to be the governor forever,” she said. “So, it’s pretty difficult for him to make predictions about what’s going to happen five, 10, 20 years from now when he’s no longer in office.

“I think we can control what we can control. And everything that we have done out of the administration has been voluntary incentive-based — really just opening up additional choice to consumers who choose to adopt this technology and want to get a really considerable amount of money back in their pockets to do so right. Part of the opposition to this program sort of fails to recognize that this money is out there. And, if New Jersey residents don’t take advantage of it, if they don’t choose to make this this switch, then that’s money that’s lost.”