Flanked by 13 electric cars and trucks — including a mustard-colored Mustang GT Mach 4 that he would later take for a spin — Gov. Wes Moore (D) on Monday announced that Maryland was recommitting to following the most aggressive national climate goals for electric vehicle sales.
“This announcement is a long time coming and this initiative is going to have generational impacts,” Moore said during an event in Baltimore.
Earlier in the day, the Maryland Air Quality Control Advisory Council voted unanimously to recommend that the Maryland Department of Environment adopt the so-called Advanced Clean Cars II Standards, pioneered by California, to speed the transition from internal combustion engines to vehicles powered by electric batteries. The agency is expected to finalize a regulation laying out the timetable for gradually increasing electric vehicle sales in the state in the fall.
Late last year, former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) effectively hit pause on Maryland adopting the second phase of California’s climate standards for vehicle sales, creating a one-year gap in the state’s participation in a national alliance of states agreeing to adopt the most stringent standards for electric vehicle sales. As a result, the state won’t adhere to California’s climate yardsticks for model year 2026 car sales, but beginning in model year 2027, the state, which has followed California’s standards since 2011 model year cars went on the market, will be back on track.
According to a Maryland Department of the Environment analysis, 383,000 fewer new gas-powered vehicles would be sold under the new rule by 2030, rising to 1.68 million fewer conventional vehicles by 2035, when the state aims to require all new cars and trucks sold on the market to be electric vehicles. By 2040, anticipated reductions in greenhouse gas emissions may potentially provide net in-state health benefits equal to about $39.9 million per year due to decreases in respiratory and cardiovascular illness and associated lost work days, the agency estimates.
Moore’s announcement, which was made outside the Montgomery Park office development in South Baltimore, where three state agencies, including the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Energy Administration, have their headquarters, was meant to do more than just announce Maryland’s renewed participation in the advanced clean cars protocol. It was also meant to spotlight his administration’s commitment to establishing Maryland as an innovator in climate policy, and its desire to lead the way on clean cars.
“It’s going to help to define the work of this administration,” Moore asserted.
He reiterated his oft-repeated argument that transitioning to a clean energy economy isn’t just going to combat climate change, but will create economic opportunities and high-wage jobs for Maryland’s workforce.
“This announcement is a boon for work, wages and wealth for all Marylanders and it’s a boon to make Maryland more competitive,” he said.
The governor was joined at Monday afternoon’s event by Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott (D), Maryland Environment Secretary Serena McIlwain, Maryland League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Kim Coble (who doubles as co-chair of the Maryland Commission on Climate Change), and Brendan Jones, president of Blink Charging, an EV charging station manufacturing company with facilities in Bowie.
Jones announced that the company recently received a major contract to supply charging stations to the U.S. Postal Service and will go from producing 10,000 EV chargers last year, to 20,000 this year, to 50,000 within the next 36 months. As a result, the company is expanding operations and opening a new facility near its existing Bowie operation.
Jones called Maryland’s commitment to meeting the highest national standards for EV sales “transformative.”
The very location of Monday’s announcement was symbolic. Not only does the Montgomery Park development house state agencies, but it is the former home of a Montgomery Ward retail outlet and warehouse, and is slowly being transformed into an office and technology hub designed to revitalize its largely industrial neighborhood. Moore said the same “reimagining” that went into rehabilitating the Montgomery Ward building will be needed to transform the auto industry in Maryland.
Maryland last year adopted aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals, and it is up to the Moore administration to implement them. The governor said reducing pollution in the transportation sector is a major component of that strategy.
One of the first bills the Moore administration sponsored in its maiden General Assembly session provides tax incentives for companies that convert their light duty truck fleets from gas-powered to electric, and also creates more incentives for the installation of EV charging stations and other infrastructure. The House and Senate versions of the bill have yet to be voted out of their respective committees.
House Republicans issued a statement Monday afternoon criticizing Moore’s announcement, saying Maryland officials shouldn’t be following another state’s lead and noting that the cost of purchasing electric vehicles is out of reach for most residents.
“It is both unfortunate and counter-productive that Governor Moore has made the false choice to move forward with this radical environmental policy that has not been vetted for its impact on our state,” said House Minority Leader Jason Buckel (R-Allegany). “This is a policy that was created in California. It is based on California’s economy, California’s transportation needs, and California’s electrical grid
During the formal presentation Monday, Moore noted Hogan’s decision to delay the state’s commitment to the second round of California climate rules, but resisted an invitation to criticize his predecessor during a brief conversation with reporters. Instead, he noted how quickly his administration has moved to address the climate crisis.
“The fact that we’ve been in office for only two months shows the level of commitment that we have,” Moore said.
The governor, Scott and McIlwain drove electric vehicles around the Montgomery Park parking lot after the formal presentation. Moore’s ride was a sporty Mustang; Scott drove a sporty slate gray Audi E-ton GT, while McIlwain drove a white Audi E-ton Quattro sedan.
“Doing good shouldn’t be this fun,” a smiling Moore said when he was done. “It was all right.”