PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The McKee administration announced Wednesday that the state is looking to phase out the sale of new gas-powered vehicles in Rhode Island by 2035.
Rhode Island would join seven other states, including Massachusetts, in implementing a policy to control carbon pollution by cutting tailpipe emissions from cars, trucks and SUVs.
“The Act on Climate put us on the clock for meeting major carbon reduction mandates, and it’s clear to me that Rhode Island will only meet the mandates by addressing the transportation sector head-on,” Gov. Dan McKee said.
McKee said he wants the state to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. He’s hoping to adopt California’s Advanced Clean Cars II and Advanced Clean Trucks standards in an effort to fight climate change.
The governor said car manufacturers are already working to meet customer demand on the emerging regulatory requirements.
According to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), if the state did not adopt the “California standard” — a standard much stricter than federal guidelines — the state would not be able to meet the Act on Climate law signed back in 2021.
That puts the ocean state in the front seat, officials said, to ensure electric vehicles currently being manufactured make it to the state for sale.
According to the Green Energy Consumers Alliance, there’s not enough EV supply to meet the demand in Rhode Island, and work needs to be done to bring more used EVs to the market.
“It will help us build out the robust market for used EVs that we need… since we know that a huge number of people never purchase new cars– we really need electric cars to get into the market,” Alliance Director Anna Vanderspek said.
The DEM also said roughly 40% of greenhouse gasses generated across the state come from transportation, which is the leading cause of carbon pollution.
“What this will do is only affect manufacturers,” Rep. Terri Cortvriend said. “[We’re] making sure Rhode Islanders have more access to them.”
The state currently has roughly 7,600 electric vehicles on the road. By 2027, the first year Rhode Island would begin enforcing the regulations, 43% of all new cars and trucks in the state would need to be electric or hydrogen-powered.
But for those who don’t want to get behind electric vehicles, Vanderspek said not to worry, as gas-powered cars aren’t going anywhere.
“This will not prevent anybody from buying, selling, or driving a gas car,” she said. “It again just makes sure Rhode Islanders have a wide range of access.”