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.

24% of dealerships currently have EVs on their lots

53% of buyers are willing to consider an electric car for their next purchase

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.