Electrifying Virginia's Transportation
UPDATE: Virginia Passed Clean Car Standards
A major win for Virginia, this new legislation will make it much easier to purchase electric vehicles within the Commonwealth.
But there’s more work to be done to curb vehicle pollution and increase transit equity. We’ll be pushing to join the Transportation Climate Initiative and fund public transportation across the Commonwealth. Stay tuned.
Read Virginia Director Kim Jemaine’s statement to learn more about this victory.
When it comes to the climate crisis, we're driving off a cliff
The science is clear: climate change is a serious threat to our well-being and economy. In Virginia, transportation is the single largest polluter. Luckily, there are many clean alternatives. But we have to act fast.
We know climate change is incredibly dangerous in and of itself. Virginia is dangerously at risk for the worst effects of climate change as a coastal state. We’re already experiencing sea level rise and low-lying, beloved communities like Hampton Roads and Virginia Beach are set to be wiped out within decades. Adaptation is possible, but we need to take serious climate action, especially in the realm of transportation, because that’s what has the biggest impact in Virginia specifically.
Everyone in Virginia is impacted by fossil fuel pollution, but poor communities and communities of color often face the brunt of it. These communities often are hit hardest by hurricanes and floods because they do not have as many financial resources to prepare or recover. Predominantly Black communities face a higher risk of premature death from particle pollution than whites do. This is due to the long-lasting effects of racialized housing policies, which resulted in greater exposure to things like busy, dirty highways. Adopting the clean car standards is an important step in cleaning up the air near these communities — less transportation pollution means a lower risk of premature death. In fact, the American Lung Association listed the DC metro area as ranked 6th nationwide to benefit the most from pollution reduction and transition to cleaner transportation options.
Solution: Advanced Clean Car Standards
This 2021 Legislative Session, we’re pushing for the Advanced Clean Car Standards Act, which will implement clean car standards for new vehicles and join the Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Program to increase the number of electric vehicles (EVs) sold in Virginia.
This bill would allow auto dealers in Virginia time to source an increased number of EVs from manufacturers to meet the 2025 EV inventory goals when the policy goes into effect.
Equipping the public with EVs is a crucial step on the road to decarbonization as Virginia aims to reimagine its transportation infrastructure towards a cleaner and more reliable transit system.
Further, an expansion of Virginia’s EV infrastructure will minimize the number of new carbon-emitting vehicles. This will reduce air pollution in communities of color and low-income communities.
This is How Virginia Would Benefit
Investing in clean transportation and transitioning to cleaner cars is a long-run initiative, but it also has major payoffs. Nationally, transitioning to electric transport values climate savings at $113 billion by 2050, as well as an 82% reduction in nitrous oxide emissions, which is the primary substance coming from automobiles.
Interestingly, investment in clean public transportation specifically can result in an overall economic stimulus. According to a CCAN memo, in a case study of Kansas City’s fare-free and soon to be electric transit system, transitioning to an all electric public transit fleet can save millions in fuel costs annually. As for Virginia, a study from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation shows that for every dollar invested in transit, it translates to $2.86 in additional economic activity. This report showed that public transit is a net benefit to society, and not just through economic activity.
Click here for a factsheet about Advanced Clean Car Standards 2021: CCAN Action Fund
Click here for background about vehicle pollution: VA Conservation Network
Click here for a fact sheet about vehicle pollution in VA: VA Conservation Network
Click here for a list of states that have adopted clean car standards: Maryland Dept. of the Environment
Background about clean car standards: Environmental Defense Fund
Click here for background about the VCEA: Virginia Mercury
Click here for information about fare free transit: Greater Greater Washington
“Opinion: Expand electric vehicle options to benefit consumers, improve climate” The Virginian-Pilot, 1/14/2021
“Pollution from vehicles next challenge to address,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/5/2020
“Major automakers strike climate deal with California, rebuffing Trump on proposed mileage freeze,” Washington Post, 7/25/2019
“Electric buses arrive in Alexandria,” DCist, 10/19/2020
“For Virginia transit agency, electric buses help to meet climate, equity goals,” Energy News Network, 11/5/2020
“Virginia Governor signs Hampton Roads Transportation Funding Law, welcomes new electric transit buses,” Mass Transit Mag, 9/21/2020
“Electrify your ride: Blacksburg Transit to add 5 all-electric buses in 2021,” Collegiate Times, 8/21/2019
“Hampton Roads to deploy first electric buses in VA,” Virginia Business, 9/18/2020
“Fund climate programs to restart the economy | Reader Commentary,” Baltimore Sun, 7/15/2020