Widening the possibilities for electric cars to help customers, changing the environment

Lawmakers are hearing a popular song from the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association (VADA) for the 2021 General Assembly session in Virginia beginning this week: they “fully support” the introduction of electric vehicles (EV), maybe not this year. “Last year, VADA was strong and vocal that “thanks to our [VADA’s] initiatives” pro-EV legislation was rejected. There are different negotiating angles this year (“concerns about the timetable,” let’s “research the issue”) but the same overall theme: Vote no.

Evidence shows that very soon, there will be substantial development in the EV market. Over half (53%) of Virginians say they will buy an EV for their next vehicle, and by the completion of 2024, almost 100 new electric vehicles are expected to enter the market. Virginia will be bypassed by heavily awaited new cars such as a hybrid F-150 pickup truck, instead of states like Maryland or even New Jersey, which have pro-EV measures in place (and the Virginia car customers will head there, too). Virginia will also do well to align itself now to draw on the Biden administration’s big public spending, which has sent strong signals to prioritize electric transport.

Another topic that absolutely cannot wait: the enhancement of Virginians’ welfare. Transitioning to electric cars means fixing an issue of air pollution, which accounts for roughly 92 deaths, 2,600 cases of aggravated asthma, as well as 10,000 workdays missed last year in Virginia. Data reveals that this misery cruelly affects disadvantaged people and groups of color the most. We have been dealing with a science that we now know harms many of our organs for 100 years. We have better technologies ready for launch now. Delaying is not an appropriate choice.

Finally, the pressing overview of the climate crisis calls for action. Science has made it perfectly clear that we’ve now reached a crucial decade: the decisions we are taking (or failing to take) will now decide to a large extent what the future looks like. More simply put: it’s time to move up. Although Virginia was identified as a renewable energy pioneer by the Virginia Clean Economic Act by addressing greenhouse gas pollution from the power market, it is time to tackle pollution from the biggest component: transport. The Clean Cars bill’s critics are marshaling their cases. There is not much interest, they claim. Let’s research even more on this. Let’s watch to see what’s being done by the federal government.

The theme is to generate fear that Virginia could stick too far out of his neck. Perhaps this would be a viable perspective in a particular situation. The region is facing a crisis, though, in which the only wise, responsible, morally defensible step is to move on. They have already investigated ways to promote EVs’ implementation in the commonwealth better, and the conclusions are straightforward. Today’s implementation of pro-EV policies means preparing Virginia to take advantage of the economy, boost public health, and put us on track toward a healthier future. This is a chance that Virginia can absolutely not afford to lose.