On March 18, the Maryland House passed HB 1246, legislation to extend and expand the state's electric vehicle rebate program and to include fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). You can read the legislation here.
Global Automakers was actively involved in the discussion surrounding fuel cell vehicles in Maryland, and we partnered with Governor Hogan in February by bringing these cars to the Maryland State House for a demonstration. Fuel cell vehicles, whose only byproduct is water vapor, can make a critical contribution to meeting Zero Emissions Vehicle mandates in Maryland, California, and eight other states with this mandate.
That’s the good news. Unfortunately, the bill also contains a poison pill—language stating that "a person may not sell hydrogen as motor fuel in the state if the hydrogen was produced by natural gas reforming." That’s effectively a ban on the sale of hydrogen-fueled electric vehicles in the state. It’s the equivalent of building a road to zero emissions, and erecting a brick wall in the middle of it.
Electric vehicle sales in Maryland remain below two percent, well short of its requirement of approximately eight percent of all vehicle sales by 2025. At this point, two vehicle technologies deliver zero emissions: plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), and fuel cell vehicles. If the goal is to get more zero emissions vehicles on our roads, what’s the purpose of limiting consumer choices?
Further, the electricity that charges plug-in electric vehicles in Maryland is generated by coal, nuclear power and natural gas. Consistency – and fairness – would suggest that Maryland require EVs to only consume power from renewable sources. And of course, that’s completely unrealistic and counterproductive.
We may get to zero-carbon electricity some day, but until then, it makes no sense to prohibit or restrict zero emission vehicle technologies and options that provide measurable and substantial emissions benefits.
Similarly, our production of hydrogen fuel gets ever cleaner and more efficient. In the interim, states, automakers, and hydrogen fuel suppliers need to be working hand in hand to develop hydrogen refueling infrastructure to help rollout this technology.
The bill has been forwarded to the Senate Finance Committee, where members will hear testimony on Tuesday, March 26. We want to work with the Maryland Assembly to meet the goals of electrifying the state’s fleet, but this legislation, in its current form, would take us in the opposite direction.