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NY State Laws Block Gov. Hochul's Own Clean Energy Transportation Goals

Chris Bolt/WAER News
An all-electric Chevrolet Bolt in an Upstate NY forest.

Clean energy advocates in New York say laws and regulations on the books could be preventing the state from adopting more climate-friendly transportation options to meet its climate goals. Governor Hochul said during her state of the state address she wants to promote electric cars, trucks, and buses. But Anne Reynolds with the Alliance for Clean Energy says state law bans companies from directly selling only electric vehicles in their stores.

"New Yorkers are ready to have those choices. If they knew about this issue, they'd say, 'Yea, hey, I'd like to have a place to buy a cool Rivian truck in my community, and not have to go to Toronto or Cleveland or buy it online.'"

Reynolds says she was disappointed that Governor Hochul didn’t mention a repeal of the law. She says the New York State Auto Dealers Association has lobbied the legislature and governor to keep the law, even though several traditional automakers will be transitioning to electric-only cars in less than a decade. Reynolds says meanwhile, it’s another way for the state to reduce green house gas emissions.

"If Telsa or Rivian or Lucid could open up direct sales stores, it would greatly increase the number of electric vehicles on the road, and it would also provide an incentive for the traditional dealers moving electric cars that they definitely lag on pushing in their sales."

She says New York offers incentives to buy electric cars, but makes it difficult for consumers to get them. Conversely, Florida allows direct sales but offers fewer incentives. Reynolds says a similar barrier exists for school districts looking to buy cleaner buses and power them.

"School districts should have the ability to use their transportation school aid to buy electric buses or lease electric buses, and to use the funds to buy electricity. Now you can only use your transportation aid for diesel fuel for your school buses."

Reynolds says rules need to change before Hochul can achieve her stated goal of 100 percent electric school buses by 2035.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at