October 28th, 2022

By Steven Nelson and Zach Williams

WASHINGTON — Seven of New York’s Republican members of Congress ripped Gov. Kathy Hochul Friday for attempting to take away the “right to choose” by banning the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035 — but Hochul’s office told The Post she won’t change course.

A letter organized by upstate Rep. Elise Stefanik and signed by gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin called on Hochul to abandon the plan, citing the prospect of higher costs and fewer consumer options if it takes effect — reviving attention to the issue ahead of the election.

“In addition to the fact that this policy will drive up prices each New Yorker must pay for their vehicles, you are also taking away their right to choose what vehicle they want to drive,” the letter says.

“Instead of picking winners and losers from Albany, you should be working to enhance consumer choice and empower New Yorkers to decide how they want to spend their hard-earned money. We urge you reverse this decision and put the needs of all New Yorkers first.”

Stefanik told The Post “electric vehicles will not serve our communities well, especially because families in my district often have to commute over an hour each way to work” and suggested that the regulation was part of a broader agenda that “shamelessly prioritizes the needs of New York’s urban cities over our hardworking rural communities.”

But Hochul’s office swatted aside the criticism, saying in response that “these actions benefit our climate and the health of our communities for generations to come.”

“Following the legislature’s support and passage of the bill, Governor Hochul signed legislation in 2021 setting the goal for all new passenger cars and trucks to be zero-emissions by 2035,” Hochul’s spokeswoman said. “The Governor is committed to creating a safe, healthy New York, and we are both reducing emissions and building a reliable and resilient clean energy grid that will support our transition to electric vehicles.”

Hochul faces a tighter-than-expected contest against Zeldin going into the Nov. 8 election. The RealClearPolitics average of recent polls shows Hochul beating the Long Island congressman by just 6.1%, despite President Biden carrying the state by more than 23 percentage points in 2020.

Zeldin previously accused Hochul of hypocrisy for seeking to ban gas-powered cars while using state helicopters and planes 140 times in seven months.

Biden on Thursday visited Syracuse to boost Hochul ahead of Election Day with an event touting plans by the company Micron to build a $100 billion factory generating 9,000 jobs in Syracuse.

At the event, Hochul described herself as “the first upstate governor in 100 years” and said she understood the region’s economic woes as globalization caused high unemployment and stagnation in former industrial areas.

But the Stefanik-led letter says Hochul’s electric vehicle mandate, announced on Sept. 29 to align New York with California’s policies, is more representative of concerns in New York City, where fewer people need to drive.

“Forcing New Yorkers to purchase EVs in 2035 will cause significant financial hardship to the average consumer. Over the last year, electric vehicle prices have skyrocketed approximately 56.7[%], while hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars rose 30.5[%],” the letter says.

“The New York Independent System Operator predicts that approximately 7.7 million EVs will be on the road in New York by 2040, with 160,000 vehicles registered in the state by the end of 2022.

“These EVs are primarily located in the greater New York City area, and it is clear your proposed EV mandate panders to downstate priorities instead of working for all New Yorkers,” the letter to Hochul read. “Rural communities in Upstate New York and the North Country rely on vehicles at much high rates than the urban areas in and around New York City.”

The letter points to a February audit from the New York State Comptroller of the New York Power Authority (NYPA) that found the authority had put EV charging stations in just 32 of 62 counties.

“This out-of-touch mandate will further inhibit New York rural communities’ ability to prosper and maintain stable economies,” the letter says.

Republican Reps. Claudia Tenney, John Katko, Chris Jacobs, Andrew Garbarino and Joe Sempolinski signed the letter. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who represents Staten Island and southern Brooklyn, was the lone New York House Republican not to sign.

The Biden administration is pushing federal policies to lower the cost and improve the ease of using electric vehicles. Last year’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law included $7.5 billion to build a national network of electric vehicle charging stations and the administration is beginning to disburse funds to install charging stations every 50 miles along major highways.

Biden’s $437 billion environmental and health care spending bill signed in August included $7,500 in tax credits for buyers of new electric cars.

Hochul cited the threat of global warming when announcing the state’s plan to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars, pickup trucks and SUVs within 13 years.

“Governor Kathy Hochul today commemorated National Drive Electric Week by directing the State Department of Environmental Conservation to take major regulatory action that will require all new passenger cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs sold in New York State to be zero emissions by 2035,” a press release from her office said.

“This is a crucial regulatory step to achieving significant greenhouse gas emission reductions from the transportation sector and is complemented by new and ongoing investments also announced today, including electric vehicle infrastructure progress, zero-emission vehicle incentives, and ensuring New York’s communities benefit from historic federal climate change investments,” Hochul’s release said.

Read more in the New York Post here.

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