In a new report, the American Lung Association claims that transitioning away from gasoline- and diesel-powered cars and trucks to battery-electric vehicles would result in significant health and financial benefits for the nation. It claims that if all personal passenger vehicles are electric by 2035 and all heavy duty trucks are electric by 2040, the United States will see more than $1.2 trillion in health benefits and $1.7 trillion in additional climate benefits by 2050.
The transition would result in up to:
- 110,000 avoided deaths
- 2.79 million avoided asthma attacks
- 13.4 million avoided lost workdays
Harold Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association, says:
“Zero-emission transportation is a win-win for public health. Too many communities across the U.S. deal with high levels of dangerous pollution from nearby highways and trucking corridors, ports, warehouses and other pollution hot spots. Plus, the transportation sector is the nation’s biggest source of carbon pollution that drives climate change and associated public health harms.
“This is an urgent health issue for millions of people in the U.S. The shift to zero emission transportation and electricity generation will save lives and generate massive health benefits across the United States. It is critical that we ensure these benefits are realized in the near term in communities most impacted by harmful pollution today.”
The research finds that significant benefits from this transition may be concentrated in counties with higher populations of people of color, according to Engadget. For example, the 100 US counties (3% of all counties assessed) with the highest percentage of populations of people of color could experience $155 billion in public health benefits, or 13% of the total benefits seen in the national study through 2050. An equitable transition to zero emission transportation and electricity must begin with communities most impacted by harmful pollution today.
Now, if you are a Republican, saving lives and promoting better health for people with black or brown faces is not even on your radar. How dare they ask for clean air! But consider this, you free market types. The American Lung Association study also says that up to 13.4 million lost workdays could be avoided with cleaner air. That is the sort of statistic that should make even the most flinty-hearted capitalist sit up and take notice. Air pollution — much of it from burning gasoline and diesel fuel — is taking money out of your pocket! Is that reason enough to act? It certainly should be.
American Lung Association Top 10 List
The report claims that the 10 urban areas in the US most at risk from airborne pollution are:
- Los Angeles-Long Beach
- New York-Newark
- San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland
- Miami-Port St. Lucie-Fort Lauderdale
- Houston-The Woodlands
- Detroit-Warren-Ann Arbor
- Dallas-Fort Worth
In order for all new cars and trucks to be electric by 2040 and for the electrical grid to be decarbonized by then, the association says a number of policy initiatives need to be put in place as soon as possible. They include increased funding for renewable electricity generation and transportation that is not based on burning fossil fuels. They also include extending and expanding incentives for zero emission vehicle purchases, and support for “converting public fleets to zero emission vehicles immediately.” The association is urging Congress to pass legislation that would accelerate the transition to renewable energy and for the EPA to adopt standards requiring lower carbon emissions from vehicles before the shift is complete.
“Achieving these major benefits to our health and our climate will require dedicated and sustained leadership,” the association says. “Investment at all levels of government, public education, and engagement will ensure the transition to zero emission vehicles provides clean air for everyone. The American Lung Association is asking the public to sign our petition calling for a rapid transition to zero-emission vehicles and electricity at Lung.org/EV.” All of us here at CleanTechnica support that request.