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Rhode Island Picks up the Pace on Clean Cars & Trucks

A little over a month ago we published a blog celebrating Massachusetts’ formal adoption of the Advanced Clean Cars II standard and pointing out that Rhode Island was slow-walking on the standard. We are happy to report that Rhode Island has since picked up the pace! Governor Dan Mckee has announced that Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) will adopt the Advanced Clean Cars II (ACCII) and Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) standards. This is great news – and a big thank you goes out to Governor Mckee and the RIDEM team, as well as to Senator DiMario and Representative Cortvriend for sponsoring legislation (S195/H6055) calling for Rhode Island to implement the standards. And thank you to all of you who submitted written testimony and showed up at the hearing in support!

Reminder: What are ACCII & ACT?  

ACCII requires car manufacturers to steadily increase the percentage of vehicles they sell that are electric from 35% in model year 2026 to 100% in model year 2035. We’ve written about the standards before here. Because of the required lag time between adoption of the standards and implementation, if Rhode Island completes the process of adopting ACCII in 2023, it will jump in with implementation with model year 2027, when sales requirements are 43%.

undefined-Sep-14-2022-05-33-36-08-PMACT steadily increases the percentage of zero-emission trucks that automakers must sell, but the sales percentage target varies based on the size & type of the truck. You can read more about ACCII and ACT here 

Acting on Climate 

These standards are an essential step forward towards meeting Rhode Island’s Act on Climate mandate, requiring that the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. They will also improve air quality and protect public health. Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants in RI, and these regulations enable the accelerated EV adoption needed to tackle those emissions. They will also benefit our economy by turning off the spigot to petroleum and ensuring that Rhode Island consumers and dealerships have access to the full range of EV models. The climate, local economy, and public health will all benefit from the adoption of Advanced Clean Cars II and Advanced Clean Trucks.  

{Note: This policy is not the only thing Rhode Island should do to reduce transportation emissions. We also favor interventions that would reduce vehicle miles traveled, such as increasing RIPTA ridership and making walking and biking safer.}  


Community-Based Clean Mobility Program 

The proposed rules include several provisions to encourage manufacturers to take targeted actions that improve equitable access to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) for disadvantaged, low-income, and other frontline communities. Vehicle manufacturers are strongly encouraged to meet some of their compliance obligations by earning EJ (environmental justice) values. One way this can be done is through a “Community Based Clean Mobility Program.” RIDEM will be defining what a “qualifying community-based clean mobility program” looks like in RI in its final version of the rule. Therefore, RIDEM is specifically seeking input on how to develop this program.  

A “Community-Based Clean Mobility Program” must meet each of the following three elements: 

  1. Provide access to clean mobility solutions other than vehicle ownership including ZEV car-sharing, ride-sharing, vanpools, ride-hailing, or on-demand first-mile/last-mile services;
  2. Serve a community in which at least 75% of the census tracts in the project area are a disadvantaged community, a low-income community, or a tribal community;
  3. And is implemented by a community-based organization, tribal government, a public agency, or a nonprofit organization with support from a project-related community-based organization. 

Programs are to be tailored to meet communities’ unique transportation needs and improve access to affordable, convenient, and reliable clean mobility options that do not require but can complement vehicle ownership. The RI community-based programs could be funded by the state, local, or federal government agencies, utilities, manufacturers, foundations, or other entities. If you have ideas for what kind of clean mobility program you want to see in your community, please let RIDEM know! You can provide feedback until May 24th here. 


Getting the Rule over the Finish Line  

It is important to remember that this is a Draft Rule. Right now, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is undergoing an informal public feedback period. You can submit comments to their smart portal through May 24th. If you’d like to submit comments, here’s a template to get you started:  

  • Hello, my name is _name_, and I am a resident of _city/town_, RI
  • If you drive an electric vehicle, note what _model_ and for how many _years_ you've been an EV driver. 
  • Rhode Island must adopt the Advanced Clean Cars II and Advanced Clean Trucks rules to meet the emissions reduction requirements of An Act On Climate, to protect public health, and to ensure that consumers like me have access to the full range of EV choice in the Ocean State. 
  • Insert personal anecdote! Some suggestions: 
  • How you would benefit from more electric vehicle model choice  
  • How you are never going back to a gas-powered car (if you drive an EV) 
  • How important fighting climate change is to you 
  • How you wish more Rhode Islanders had access to the fuel and maintenance savings of EVs 
  • Thank you for this opportunity to provide comment 

Shortly after this informal public feedback period concludes, the formal rulemaking process with a 30-day public comment period will begin. DEM must adopt the final rule by January 2nd, 2024, for the standards to go into effect starting Model Year 2027. When that process starts up, we will let our readers know how to participate. Subscribe to our blog to be notified!