Originally published on the ECOreport
Air pollution allegedly kills 21,000 Californians every year. Most of these fatalities are attributed to road transportation or building emissions. According to the American Lung Association, vehicle emissions cost California $15 billion a year in health and climate impacts.
The state legislature is considering a law that would require all new passenger vehicles sold in California after Jan. 1, 2040 to produce zero emissions. Catherine Rehesis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, claims this “would come at the expense of those who can afford it the least both financially and in lifestyle – California’s lower and middle class working families.” Janelle London, Co-Executive Director of Coltura, explains why California needs AB 1745.
Can California Pass AB 1745?
AB 1745 could be vital if California is to reduce carbon emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.
A growing coalition of organizations – like the Sierra Club, Earthjustice, Acterra, Stand.Earth, Center for Climate Protection, 350 Bay Area, 350Sonoma, NextGen California, Brightline Defense, Fossil Free California, and Coltura – support this bill.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt argues that these are national issues and “California is not the arbiter.”
To which London responds:
“Under the Clean Air Act, California has the ability to implement vehicle emissions requirements that are more stringent than federal requirements, provided it gets a waiver from the EPA to do so. The EPA must grant the waiver unless California’s rule is found not to be “at least as protective of public health and welfare as applicable federal standards” or California “does not need such standards to meet compelling and extraordinary conditions.”
AB 1745’s Impact On US Manufacturing
She agrees AB 1745 could have a profound impact on the automotive manufacturing sector:
“This legislation would likely incentivize US automakers to invest in more models of electric vehicles.”
“California, with 2 million new vehicle sales a year, represents about 14% of the US new passenger vehicle market. There are 9 other states (Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont) that follow California’s zero emission vehicle mandates, per a provision (Section 177) of the Clean Air Act. Together, these “Section 177 ZEV states” make up about 28% of the total US vehicle market.”
“In the United States, the Big Three—General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler—make up 45 percent of the domestic new car market, according to auto-sales data from TheWall Street Journal. Overall, 17% of American-made vehicles were exported in 2016, implying that 83% were sold domestically.”
Around The World
“Great Britain, France, China, India, and other countries are phasing out gas- and diesel-powered vehicles, and requiring new vehicles to be zero emissions. These four countries alone account for more than 35 million new vehicle sales per year, which will require global automobile manufacturers to develop, build, and market a full range of ZEV options for drivers. General Motors anticipates that a “substantial portion” of its electric vehicles will be sold in China.”
Can Americans Afford To Switch?
The Association of Global Automakers calls AB 1745 “ambitious” and to “unfortunately be unachievable unless the state substantially increases and maintains public investment in incentives and infrastructure.”
Is it true Americans can not afford the switch to electric vehicles?
“On the contrary, by every indication, making the switch from gas cars to EVs would result in lower costs of vehicle ownership for everyone, including middle-class and low-income families. What’s more, it would provide healthcare cost savings, especially for families living near busy roads, by reducing their incidence of asthma, heart and lung diseases, and other vehicle-emissions-related health problems.
“EV battery costs are dropping. Electric vehicle prices are largely determined by the cost of the battery. As technology improves and EV production increases, EV battery costs have been steadily falling, and are expected to keep falling:”
EVs Will Soon Be Cost-Competitive
EVs will soon be cost-competitive:
“Because of this drop in battery costs, financial analysts predict that the purchase price of new EVs will be the same as (or less than) comparable gas cars by 2025, even without incentives and subsidies. Some predict price parity will come as early as 2020 or 2022.”
“Also, as automakers increase production to serve the growing global demand for EVs, they’ll gain economies of scale. This will enable them to lower their prices to compete for market share.”
Electricity Is Cheaper Than Gasoline
“Additional factors are making EVs more affordable than gas cars even today:
Electricity is cheaper than gasoline – In California, average fuel savings are $752/year with electricity instead of gasoline; it costs around half as much to fuel an EV compared to a comparable gas car. Even assuming you pay extra to charge at public charging stations 20% of the time (such as when traveling longer distances), fuel costs are still less than for gasoline.
California utilities offer a 30% to 35% discount on electricity rates for low income customers, reducing the price of fueling an EV even further.
“Electricity will continue to be cheaper than gasoline. Electricity is highly regulated and locally generated from a variety of sources. Electricity prices have been largely stable (around $1 per gallon equivalent), and are forecast to remain so, especially since renewable sources, which are the majority of new electricity generation coming online, are cheaper than existing fossil fuel sources.
EVs Require Less Maintenance
“There’s less maintenance: EV maintenance is cheaper because EVs have far fewer moving parts and don’t require oil changes. Additionally, EVs have regenerative braking that uses the electric motor to slow the car rather than the brakes, allowing further savings on brake pads and rotors.”
EVS Are Already Cost-Competitive
“Purchase and lease prices are already competitive with gas cars: For new EVs, the average purchase price dropped 11% from 2016 to 2017, to $34,000 — slightly less than the average price of all new cars. For certain EVs, the price is already less than the equivalent gas model after federal incentives (up to $7,500) and state rebates (around $2,500). In 2018, many new EVs are priced around $20,000 after incentives and rebates. (Governor Brown’s January 2018 Executive Order calls for the state rebates to continue for the next eight years.)”
“EV lease deals are competitive as well, at around $4 to $10 per day.Low income families get extra discounts on purchasing and leasing: In California, families making less than 300% of the federal poverty rate are eligible for a rebate of up to $4,500 on the purchase or lease of a new EV. With up to $7,500 in federal tax incentives, the discount can be as high as $12,000. California’s Cash for Clunkers program offers an additional $1,500 to low income families retiring an old, polluting vehicle, for a total discount of up to $13,500. Last year, the city of Los Angeles launched an EV car-sharing program for low-income residents.
“Used EVs are cheap and getting cheaper: In many parts of California, used electric vehicles can be had for well under $10,000. With more sales of new EVs, the market for used EVs will continue to grow.”
We’re At An Inflection Point
According to one of the bill’s authors, Assemblyman Phillip Ting (D – San Francisco), “We’re at an inflection point: we’ve got to address the harmful emissions that cause climate change. Achieving the goal of electrification of transportation is crucial for the health of our people and the planet. Vehicles run on fossil fuels are responsible for nearly 40 percent of California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. By spurring the use of zero emissions vehicles, we’re creating a mechanism to ensure a healthier future for Californians, and the entire region.”
Photo Credit: Los Angeles Skyline as seen landing at LAX Airport in 2004, with plenty of smog to “enhance” the view by TravelingOtter via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License); Coltura Video “The Gas Trap”; Janelle London, co executive director of Coltura, explains Why AB 1745 Is better for California; EV Image Courtesy Coltura; Source: https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles/accelerating-us-leadership-electric-vehicles; Two Colutura EV Images; California Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory – 2017 Edition – courtesy California Air Resources Board