by Phil Ting, San Diego Union Tribune
Everyone deserves to breathe clean air.
Unfortunately for many Californians, they don’t have the choice.
According to a 2017 Los Angeles Times investigative article, more than 1.2 million people live within 500 feet of a freeway in Southern California. The American Lung Association estimates that in 2015, California suffered $15 billion in health costs due to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution from passenger vehicles, including respiratory illness, premature mortality and lost workdays.
Sound walls are a fixture in neighborhoods throughout the state, but these walls only mitigate the ubiquitous rumble of the freeway and don’t stop car emissions. In short, the tons of toxic air surrounding our roadways, and consequently our homes, are killing us and our children.
While one of the answers to solving this issue is to not to build homes within these zones, affordable housing in California has reached crisis levels, and many families don’t have choices when it comes to where to live.
The only way to protect our families from the devastating impact of transportation emissions is to ensure that clean cars are driving by these homes every day.
Well more than 100 years ago, the first internal combustion engine was patented. Gas and diesel-powered cars on the road today are still using this centuries-old technology. But technology has enabled us to have cleaner, greener zero-emission vehicles available, and it’s time that we begin to fully adopt their usage.
Other countries from around the world are responding to their climate challenges by moving toward zero-emissions vehicles. Great Britain and France have announced deadlines of 2040 for all new vehicles to be zero-emissions. China and India, which together sell more than 30 million new vehicles per year, have announced plans to move away from traditional gas-powered vehicles to zero-emissions vehicles.
The global auto market is shifting and California needs to keep pace with the market by setting down a clear marker that zero-emission vehicles are the future of transportation.
Beyond the flashy electric supercar press releases making the news are real-world cars that make financial sense for working families. Electric vehicles are increasingly affordable and accessible for all people. All Volvo vehicles will be full or hybrid electric vehicles by 2019. General Motors will be releasing 20 new all-electric models by 2023. Two-thirds of Ford’s vehicles will be electric by 2030. Toyota has announced partnerships for electric vehicles with Mazda and Suzuki.
With this increase in availability of electric vehicles, it will be cheaper to buy them in America as soon as 2025. Additionally, electric vehicle drivers spend about $5 per 100 miles to power their cars whereas those with gas cars spend $12 per 100 miles.
California has made major strides in protecting our environment and battling climate change. Still, the transportation sector accounts for 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, with cars and light-duty trucks making up 70 percent of those emissions. Accelerating the transition to 100 percent clean vehicles will improve Californians’ communities, health and the air they breathe by reducing greenhouse gases and polluting emissions.
The next step in cleaning our air is to push for greater adoption of zero-emission vehicles. With this in mind, I have introduced Assembly Bill 1745, the Clean Cars 2040 Act, to require all new passenger vehicles registered in California to be zero-emissions after Jan. 1, 2040. The bill would not force anybody to get rid of their existing gas-powered car, but families in the market for a new car would have dozens of zero-emission models to choose from to suit their needs.
Clean Cars 2040 is necessary not only to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets, but because the air that our children and grandchildren are breathing when playing outside is detrimental to their health.
Once zero-emission vehicles are fully adopted, families living near freeways and busy boulevards won’t have to worry about their children breathing toxic fumes in the air. Parents won’t need to be concerned about asthma, lung cancer, pre-term births, or the other numerous adverse effects of traffic pollution.
Breathing clean air is not a right that should only be held by those who are lucky enough to live farther away from the freeway. It is possible to have clear skies all over our state so we owe it to future generations to get more clean cars on the road.