The Southern Berks News

Charged up for electric vehicle future

- By Flora Cardoni, Dr. Steph Lee and Dr. Maya Ragavan Flora Cardoni is Field Director with PennEnviro­nment; Dr. Steph Lee is a pediatrici­an & preventive medicine specialist; Dr. Maya Ragavan is a pediatrici­an

Electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining speed in Pennsylvan­ia. In the past three years alone, EV registrati­on has more than tripled with over 28,000 electric vehicles (EVs) now on the road in the Keystone State. In order to keep up with growing demand for clean cars, and drive the adoption of electric vehicles even further, it is crucial that the state provide ample access to public charging stations.

The Infrastruc­ture Investment and Jobs Act — which passed Congress with bipartisan support and was just signed into law — includes funding to help install up to 250,000 EV charging stations across the United States, including thousands right here in Pennsylvan­ia. And it came at a critical time.

We must speed up our transition from gas guzzlers to zeroemissi­on vehicles if we’re going to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis. Transporta­tion is the greatest contributo­r to global warming emissions in the U.S., and the majority of those emissions come from everyday cars and trucks. In Pennsylvan­ia, these vehicles account for nearly a quarter of our state’s global warming pollution. It’s clear that the time for climate action is now and electrifyi­ng our vehicles has a huge role to play.

Cars and trucks also emit harmful air pollutants that cause serious respirator­y and cardiac illnesses like asthma and heart attacks. Children are particular­ly vulnerable, with air pollution leading to limited lung growth and function, higher rates of asthma, and even infant mortality. Children’s health is directly impacted by the policies we implement. And sensible solutions, like improving EV infrastruc­ture, are essential to improving their health and wellbeing.

In order to rein in climate and air pollution, we need a plan to transition the nation’s fleet of cars and trucks to 100% electric vehicles. To get there we need to do three things: strengthen emissions standards for remaining gas powered cars, make electric vehicles cheaper and easier to buy, and build out infrastruc­ture to support electric cars.

The bipartisan infrastruc­ture package puts one key piece of this puzzle into place — a historic investment in America’s electric vehicle infrastruc­ture. To make electric cars competitiv­e with their gasoline-powered counterpar­ts, it needs to be as easy to charge up your battery as it currently is to fill up your tank. Under the Infrastruc­ture Investment and Jobs Act, Pennsylvan­ia is expected to receive $171 million over five years to support the expansion of an EV charging network in the state.

Pennsylvan­ia will also have the opportunit­y to apply for the $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicated to EV charging. These funds will help support charging station expansion across the Commonweal­th, including the Pennsylvan­ia Department of Environmen­tal Protection’s (DEP) Driving PA Forward program, so all Pennsylvan­ians can charge up when they need to.

These investment­s will help Pennsylvan­ia’s electric vehicle market continue to expand in the coming years, especially when combined with other state programs. In February of 2021, Gov. Tom Wolf started the process of joining the Advanced Clean Cars program, which could include setting a goal of 100% EV sales by 2035. A recent report released by PennEnviro­nment found that joining the program could reduce vehicle global warming pollution equal to removing nearly 4 million cars off the road. Participat­ing in this program would not only protect Pennsylvan­ians’ health and climate, but would also increase the availabili­ty of electric cars for sale in the state, and help us electrify our transporta­tion sector even faster.

We are happy that Congress passed the bipartisan infrastruc­ture package, which will help make sure Pennsylvan­ians have the charging infrastruc­ture in place that they need to travel across the state. Now, Congress should swiftly pass the Build Back Better Act and the state should complete the process of joining the Advanced Clean Cars program, both of which will help clean car sales increase even further and make it easier for Pennsylvan­ians to purchase electric vehicles. Our health and climate will thank us.

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