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Charge Ahead California Initiative Passes Overwhelmingly

Max Baumhefner

Posted August 25, 2014 in Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming, U.S. Law and Policy

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A child’s drawing posted on the door of Assembly Member Christina Garcia of Southeast Los Angeles, outlines a vision of placing 1 million electric cars, trucks, and buses on California’s streets within 10 years – a vision that  moved one step closer to reality today when the California Assembly passed Senate Bill 1275 by a vote of 46 to 23.

The Charge Ahead California Initiative (SB 1275), authored by Senate President Pro Tempore-elect Kevin de León, passed out of the Senate in May and having cleared the Assembly today, now goes to back to the Senate for a final concurrence vote later this week before heading to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.

SB 1275 is sponsored by the Coalition for Clean Air, Communities for a Better Environment, Environment California, The Greenlining Institute, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and has widespread backing from a diverse set of business, environmental, health, minority and religious groups, who have all recognized the need to move beyond oil and to ensure every community benefits from cleaner transportation:

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Charge Ahead codifies the state’s goal of putting 1 million electric vehicles on California’s roads in the next 10 years and making sure the state’s low- and moderate-income residents aren’t left out in the drive to zero out tailpipe pollution and reduce pain at the pump.

The measure:

  • Provides a long-term vision for the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project that is largely responsible for bringing about 100,000 of the nation’s 240,000 electric cars to California, with rebates of up to $2,500 available to buyers today that will gradually decrease over time as the market grows and costs come down.
  • Directs the Air Resources Board to limit eligibility for such rebates based on income in order to improve the cost-effectiveness of the program without undermining progress toward the million electric vehicle (EV) goal.
  • Increases consumer access to financing options to purchase EVs that will help families realize lower car payments and lower fuel costs (electricity is roughly the cost equivalent of $1 per gallon gasoline).
  • Creates programs for electric car sharing and deployment of charging stations multi-unit residential buildings.
  • Provides incentives for trading in old gas-guzzling clunkers for new or used electric vehicles potentially worth up to $9,500 for low-income drivers in specific disadvantaged communities.
  • Creates a “mobility option” as an alternative to car ownership by offering vouchers for transit and electric car sharing in lieu of vouchers for purchasing replacement vehicles for those who scrap older polluting vehicles.

Money in Our Pockets and Cleaner Air in Our Lungs

SB 1275 fits neatly within the state’s broader Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) – a clean energy law to reduce carbon emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020 – that will save Californians thousands of dollars in energy costs while reducing pollution and improving pubic health. NRDC analysis shows AB 32 could save the average household over $380 in fuel expenditures in 2015, $850 by 2020 and as much as $1,560 per year by 2025.

Numerous independent studies conducted by government laboratories, agencies, academic institutes, and non-profits have come to the same conclusion – meeting long-term climate goals will require a dramatic transformation of our vehicle fleet. In response to this consensus, the Charge Ahead California Initiative addresses the fact petroleum-based transportation fuels are responsible for 38 percent of the state’s carbon emissions and a significant amount of dangerous air pollution.

American Lung Association research shows a 100 percent electric fleet in California would avoid $13 billion in health, climate, and other societal damages annually, remove 275 tons of criteria pollutants every day, and stop 10,000 asthma attacks every year. In sum, Charge Ahead California is good for lungs, good for the environment, and good for the pocketbook. 

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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