Clean Car Rule for New York A Messy Case of California Envy
Roger Caiazza (on the subject of)
Independent Researcher and Publisher,
Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York
[Editor’s Note: New York State, ever politically correct, is dealing with a severe case of California envy and wants to fit a Golden State clean car rule into an Empire State reality.]
I lost track of this proposed regulation so I did not let my New York readers know that there was the opportunity to comment on the proposed rulemaking that will incorporate the State of California’s Advanced Clean Cars into New York’s regulations. This is the implementing regulation for the state law to switch to zero emission vehicles. It is unlikely that it will do any good but it would be appropriate to comment and express any misgivings you have about the requirement for a battery electric vehicle. The comment deadline is 5 pm, Monday, March 6, 2023. Written comments may be submitted by e-mail to . Put Part 218 in subject line.
This is another article about my evaluation of the Climate Act that I have written because I believe the ambitions for a zero-emissions economy embodied in the Climate Act outstrip available renewable technology such that the net-zero transition will do more harm than good. The opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the position of any of my previous employers or any other company I have been associated with, these comments are mine alone.
Advanced Clean Cars Rule
The rulemaking is described at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Air Pollution Regulatory Revisions webpage. It explains that:
Emergency Rulemaking – Parts 200, General Provisions, and 218, Emissions Standards for Motor Vehicles and Motor Vehicle Engines. The emergency/proposed rulemaking will incorporate the State of California’s Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II) regulation. The proposed amendments establish new zero emission vehicle (ZEV) and low emission vehicle (LEV IV) standards intended to reduce GHG (greenhouse gas) and NMOG + NOx (non-methane organic gas + oxides of nitrogen) emissions from light- and medium-duty on-road vehicles.
The ZEV amendments include an annual ZEV sales requirement for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), minimum technical requirements, ZEV assurance measures, regulatory flexibilities, and simplified credit accounting. The proposed ZEV amendments will apply to 2026 and subsequent model year light-duty passenger cars (PC), light-duty trucks (LDT), and medium-duty passenger vehicles (MDPV). Starting with model year 2026, OEMs, will be required to deliver an increasing annual percentage of their sales that are ZEVs or PHEVs. This percentage requirement will start at 35% in model year 2026 and increase to 100% of sales for 2035 and subsequent model years. The proposed LEV IV amendments will apply to 2026 and subsequent model year PC, LDT, and medium-duty vehicles (MDV).
The Notice of Emergency Rulemaking will be available in the December 28, 2022 issues of the State Register and the Environmental Notice Bulletin. A virtual hearing is scheduled for March 1, 2023 at 1 pm. The comment deadline is 5 pm, Monday, March 6, 2023. Written comments may be submitted to NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-3254, ATTN: James Clyne, P.E., or by e-mail to .
For what it is worth I had been accumulating material for comments so I manage to put together something to submit. I include a link to my comments and describe them below. I submitted comments to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) because the proposed rulemaking ignores feasibility, affordability, and life-cycle environmental impacts.
The primary rationale for this emergency rulemaking is to implement the control strategy recommendations included in the Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act (Climate Act) Scoping Plan. The Climate Action Council deferred a feasibility analysis of reliability, affordability, and environmental impacts to the rule-making phase. The result of this irresponsible avoidance of responsibility is a regulation that could very well not be in the best interests of New York
New York agencies are begrudgingly following their mandates for public comments. In the past each rulemaking had its own web page with a bit more description. More importantly the web page would have links to each component of the regulatory package. Admittedly they often would only be in html format so trying to develop comments required downloading and reformatting. This proposed amendment refers to a single pdf format file Part 218 Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II) that includes all the components in one massive file. If they wanted to encourage public input then they would have everything on a dedicated web page and include links to the pdf format components.
It gets worse because the rationale provided in the proposed amendment documentation is insulting. The program boils down to California did it so we can too. There is no consideration of the potential that circumstances in New York differ from California. The two-county Buffalo–Niagara Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had an estimated population of 1.1 million in 2020 and can be crippled by winter storms. Blizzard conditions with winds excess of 70 mph and heavy lake effect snow in the Buffalo area on Christmas Eve 2022 resulted in devastating impacts across the Buffalo area.
Battery electric vehicles (BEV) mandated by this proposed rule do not do well in those conditions. Thirty-nine people died in this storm and more surely would have died if electric vehicles were the only option available. California has no similar major metropolitan areas subject to this type of extreme weather so relying on their analysis so suggesting that it will work here too is disingenuous at best.
The Climate Act mandates a full life-cycle analysis of fossil-fuel use. On the other hand, the life-cycle impacts of the so-called “zero -emissions” alternatives are ignored. BEVs may not have emissions when operating but the volume of materials needed to access the rare earth elements necessary for those technologies certainly have environmental impacts when mined and processed.
The vehicles mandated by proposed Part 218 require between 1,000 and 2,000 percent more minerals to deliver the same amount of power and on the order of 400% more metals to manufacture the same vehicles. The consequence of this is that many more materials will be required. The Part 218 Regulatory Impact Statement should address where the materials necessary for BEVs come from and whether there will be sufficient quantities available for the New York transition.
I also addressed disposal of electric vehicles. The modern gas automobile is one of the most highly recycled products in human existence. After initial creation, each vehicle has an average life cycle of about 20 years. At that point it is dis-assembled and its parts are sold used in a global used parts chain, which is the most profitable part of the whole life cycle.
In comparison, a Tesla has a plastic body, and a battery assembled from thousands of 18650-type cells, so it is extremely hard to recycle. The body can’t be recycled. According to recent Tesla documents the batteries are “valorized” by grinding them up and putting their waste in construction cement. In contrast, Toyota/Honda hybrid batteries are easily re-used and recycled.
The rationale for this action is that “zero-emissions” vehicles in New York are good for the planet. However, the proposed amendment simply exports emissions elsewhere. I referenced a horror story of the Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park where the danger and pollution involved in mining nickel is at a rapid pace to meet the demand for EVs. I asked how this proposed amendment comports to the environmental justice cornerstone of the Climate Act.
The regulatory documents associated with the Proposed Amendment do not address a critical feasibility problem. DEC has to address BEV charging requirements and existing on-street parking. Who is responsible for providing the on-street charging infrastructure for car owners that do not have a dedicated charging resource?
The proposed amendment mandates that starting with model year 2026, car makers, will be required to deliver an increasing annual percentage of their sales that are ZEVs or PHEVs. This percentage requirement will start at 35% in model year 2026 and increase to 100% of sales for 2035 and subsequent model years.
Despite tremendous publicity and extensive subsidies nothing can obscure the fact that EVs remain extremely costly for consumers and offer unproven maintenance and reliability records. I will never buy a BEV because I cannot afford a car that does not offer the same flexibility and convenience as an ICE vehicle. Moreover, I do not want to deal with home charging infrastructure and the safety risk of Lithium-Ion battery chargers below my bed room. What happens when the public does not buy enough of these vehicles to meet those quotas?
This is another instance of a regulation that affects most New Yorkers but only a few are aware of its existence. I expect that the climate activists will mobilize their acolytes to submit comments supporting the rule-making. DEC will count the pro and con comments and consider implementation as a mandate from the public because more comments in favor than against will be submitted. If everyone was aware of this I am sure there number of people opposed would far outweigh the number in favor.
Worse is the complete disregard for rigor in the analysis. The primary rationale is “California said they could do it and we agree.” I did not spend sufficient time to develop comments on the California analysis but given the record of the state’s response to my comments it would only have been a waste of time.
I encourage readers to send a comment. I think it is sufficient to say that the state needs to prove that this is feasible, affordable, and doesn’t cause more environmental harm than good. They have not done that work so this should be delayed until they can prove their case.
Roger Caiazza blogs on New York energy and environmental issues at Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York. This represents his opinion and not the opinion of any of his previous employers or any other company with which he has been associated.
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