California has been a leader in adopting strategies to combat climate change and to reduce air pollution. Attacking pollution from cars and trucks powered by fossil fuels has led to major improvements in air quality and the strict emission standards pioneered by California have been adopted by 13 states and the District of Columbia. Nonetheless, continuing progress requires shifting from petroleum to electricity or alternative energy sources to power vehicles. What will happen to these plans if federal subsidies for electric vehicles disappear and corporate average fuel standards are relaxed? Del Mar may already have the answer. Over 7% of Del Mar residents own electric vehicles, making us regional leaders in adopting clean transportation by a wide margin.
If federal tax credits are removed, we do have state incentives for electric vehicles. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is using these incentives to accelerate development and deployment of the cleanest feasible vehicle technologies for all vehicle and equipment sectors, from light-duty passenger cars to heavy-duty trucks and off-road equipment to meet California’s mandated goals. These goals include:
• Reducing green house gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050
• Reducing GHG emission to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030
• Meeting the federal health-based ambient air quality standards for ozone (smog) by 2023 and 2031 as well as the fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air quality standards. CARB staff estimates meeting the 2031 ozone standard will require oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emission reductions of up to 90 percent compared to 2010 levels.
• Meeting the Governor’s goal of deploying 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2025 and the related goal of deploying 1 million ZEVs and near-zero emission vehicles by the start of 2023
• Reducing petroleum use by 50 percent by 2030
• A 10 percent reduction in the carbon intensity of California’s transportation fuels by 2020
• Continuing to reduce health risks from exposure to toxic air contaminants such as diesel particulate matter, particularly in disadvantaged communities where exposures can be substantial.
These goals are important for all of us and establish California as a leader in climate change policy. If federal subsidies disappear, we urge the state to step up and increase rebates for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The City of Del Mar supports a revenue neutral carbon fee instead of the current subsidies to the petroleum and coal industries. The Guardian reported that US taxpayers were subsidizing fossil fuel exploration and production alone by $21 billion a year in 2014, mainly in tax credits. By comparison, there were 116,548 all electric or plug-in hybrids sold in 2015 that qualified for $874 million in tax credits. Spending 24 times more to subsidize highly profitable global companies like Exxon/Mobil and Shell instead of investing more in innovative clean transportation is a colossal mistake that risks the health of the planet. Meanwhile, let’s get to 14% owners of electric vehicles right here in Del Mar.