After setbacks to adopting electric vehicle sales targets in Maine and Connecticut, New England clean transportation advocates are regrouping with a focus on charging infrastructure and consumer education.

Maine’s Board of Environmental Protection voted 4-2 on March 20 against adopting California’s Advanced Clean Cars II rules, which would have required electric or plug-in hybrids to make up 82% of new vehicle sales in the state by model year 2032.

Peter LaFond, the Maine program director for the Acadia Center, a regional nonprofit, said the delay in adopting California’s rules provides time for combating misconceptions and for utilizing increasing state and federal funds for charging infrastructure.

“Every month that goes by, I think there’ll be more and more chargers, and once there are, I think people will see the clear advantages,” LaFond said. “(EVs and plug-in hybrids) lower the carbon footprint and they’re less expensive to operate, and the cold doesn’t present as much of a challenge as the misinformation would have you believe. I think education is going to be a big part of this.”

Jayson Velazquez, the Acadia Center’s Hartford-based climate and energy justice policy associate, used the term “through-emissions” to describe pollution from diesel trucks and other vehicles that traverse low-income neighborhoods and communities of color in Connecticut’s cities en route to nearby highways.

Unlike those vehicles and their non-local drivers, Velazquez said, “the lasting health effects that come from that pollution don’t just get up and go.”

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