LOS ANGELES (November 14, 2013) – Today a diverse coalition of community-based, public health, science and conservation groups across the state launched a campaign to help clean up California’s transportation system and improve air quality in communities across the state – particularly those historically exposed to a disproportionate share of pollution – by putting one million electric cars, trucks and buses on the road within ten years. Shifting to electric vehicles will also keep more transportation dollars in-state, boosting the economy and creating new jobs.
The campaign will focus on directing current polluter fees on oil companies to fund existing, highly successful purchase incentive programs and to increase access to zero-emission transportation in disadvantaged communities.
“Low income Californians want and need the cleaner air and fuel savings that electric vehicles can bring our communities,” said Vien Truong, director of environmental equity at The Greenlining Institute. “Driving on electricity significantly reduces emissions and is equivalent to paying only one dollar-per-gallon in a gasoline vehicle. Bolstering our electric vehicle industry also means good-paying jobs in manufacturing and related fields that communities of color so urgently need.”
Cars, trucks, and buses are the single largest source of air pollution in California and are responsible for 34 percent of the state’s soot and smog-forming pollution. A recent MIT study found that traffic pollution causes almost 6,000 premature mortalities annually in California, almost twice the number killed in traffic accidents. Four in ten Californians, more than in any other state, live close enough to a freeway or busy road that they may be at increased risk of asthma, cancer and other health hazards. Lower income households in communities of color tend to live closest to heavily trafficked areas and suffer disproportionately.
“Over-reliance on fossil fuel is threatening the health of our families and communities,” said Bill Gallegos, executive director of Communities for a Better Environment. “By expanding the market for zero emission technologies and green infrastructure for transportation, charging and manufacturing, we can make significant improvements to our air quality as well as provide sustainable job opportunities for Californians – particularly those in underserved communities.”
“More Californians live near a freeway or busy road than anywhere else in the country and it is no surprise that communities living near these pollution hot spots experience higher rates of asthma,” said Bonnie Holmes-Gen, senior director of policy and advocacy for the American Lung Association in California. “One of the most effective ways to reduce health emergencies from asthma and other respiratory illnesses is to cut vehicle pollution and support the transition to clean, emission-free cars and trucks. That’s what this campaign is all about.”
California is one of eight states that have agreed to work together to put 3.3 million electric vehicles on the road by 2025. The leaders of California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia just signed the historic Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy, which also calls for scaling up the use of electric vehicles. Because it is the nation’s largest single market for electric cars, California holds the key to meeting the eight state and Pacific Coast Action Plan goals.
“Deployment of zero-emission delivery trucks eliminates air pollution and supports good jobs in the heart of California,” said Ricky Hanna, CEO of Electric Vehicles International (EVI), a Stockton-based electric vehicle manufacturer. “Clean vehicles help address localized health impacts for communities throughout California, particularly those near commercial hubs and transit corridors.”
Companies such as EVI, Boulder EV (Chatsworth), Complete Coach Works (Riverside), El Dorado National (Riverside), Altec (Dixon), Vision Industries (Long Beach), Transpower (Poway), Quantum (Lake Forest) and Tesla (Fremont) are already expanding and creating new manufacturing jobs in response to increasing electric vehicle demand.
Californians spend $70 billion on gasoline and diesel annually, $40 billion of which leaves the state in payments to oil companies and foreign oil producing countries. The use of electricity as a transportation fuel can help keep those dollars in the state, stimulating the economy, and insulating family budgets from gas price spikes. Filling California’s cars, trucks and buses with electricity instead of oil would help grow the state’s economy, creating up to 100,000 additional jobs by 2030.
Automakers are beginning to bring a diversity of advanced electric drive vehicles to the market, which don’t rely on gasoline and appeal to families across the income spectrum. Most automakers today are either selling or making zero-polluting cars for sale within the next few years.
The campaign’s supporters include American Lung Association in California, CALPIRG, Coalition for Clean Air, Communities for a Better Environment, Environment California Research & Policy Center, The Greenlining Institute, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club California and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
For more information, visit ChargeAhead.org.
Statements from other organizations supporting the campaign:
“The technology exists today to make all vehicles – from delivery trucks to minivans and sedans– more fuel efficient, less polluting and affordable,” said Michelle Kinman clean energy advocate with Environment California Research & Policy Center. “This is our opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and head off the worst impacts of global warming while cutting the air pollution that is slowly poisoning our communities, improving the quality of life for all Californians.”
“California has the opportunity to continue its long history of pioneering clean technologies, such as catalytic converters, hybrids and solar energy,” said Roland Hwang transportation program director with NRDC. “With the electric vehicle market at a critical tipping point, California’s leadership can ensure that drivers and communities across the nation can realize the clean air and fuel savings benefits of electrification.”
“Investing in clean cars, trucks and buses – particularly in our most polluted and impoverished communities – means cleaner air, healthier neighborhoods and less money spent on respiratory illness,” said Bill Magavern, policy director of the Coalition for Clean Air.
“California’s leadership has paved the way for a promising market for electric vehicles to help us meet our climate, air quality and oil saving goals,” said Don Anair, deputy director of the Clean Vehicles Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “However, sustained investment is necessary to enable this technology to reach its potential of providing clean, efficient transportation for the state and the nation.”