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Dirty air calls for cars powered by clean energy, say advocates

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Dana Gentry, Nevada Current
February 29, 2024

Clean air and clean energy advocates are calling on the Biden administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enact the strongest standards possible to reduce emissions from vehicles beginning with 2027 models in an effort to improve health and combat climate change.  

Last year the EPA announced proposed standards to be phased in on models from 2027 through 2032. Transportation is the leading domestic source of carbon pollution, according to the EPA

“The tangible health benefits of strong clean car standards for our communities are clear,” Melissa Ramos of the American Lung Association said during a media event Thursday at the East Las Vegas Library, the site of one of just a few electric vehicle charging stations in the low-income area. 

East Las Vegas “has historically grappled with disproportionate amounts of air pollution,” said Mercedes McKinley of Moms Clean Air Force, adding the valley has the 15th worst air quality of 227 metropolitan areas ranked by the American Lung Association, and a higher asthma rate than the national average, according to the Centers for Disease Control.   

“The implementation of robust clean car standards is not just about environmental stewardship; it is also a strategic move to strengthen our economy and create sustainable job opportunities,” said State Sen. Dina Neal, a Democrat. “As we advocate for these needed standards, we’re securing a healthier planet and a resilient economic future for all Nevadans.”

But not all Nevadans share equally in the benefits of electric vehicles.

James Jackson, a teacher who travels among ten schools in East Las Vegas, said EV charging stations are plentiful near his Centennial Hills home, but not where he works. 

“There aren’t a lot of EVs in this neighborhood,” he said while stopping at the library during his lunch break for a quick charge that will add 10 to 15 miles to the battery range on his electric BMW. He doesn’t think it’s fair that low-income residents will pay a fee on their electric bills for charging stations, essentially subsidizing EV owners in wealthier areas. 

NV Energy’s Economic Recovery Transportation Electrification Plan is approved for up to $100 million in infrastructure programs to facilitate EV use, especially in historically underserved communities, the company says.  The cost has not yet been added to electricity rates.

“There is true inequity in the EV space in regards to affordability,” acknowledges Neal. “That has been a national conversation within the National Congress of Black State Legislators, that if we don’t have any cars in our neighborhood, then why are we paying for it?”  

Paul Bordenkircher of the Nevada Electric Vehicle Association says new standards from the EPA for EVs “will drive down costs, making them more affordable for more people.” 

He agrees EV owners are not paying their fair share by using charging stations subsidized by low-income residents and by avoiding paying road taxes at the gas pump. He favors a DMV-imposed tax instead, based on miles driven. 

In January, 16 Republican governors, including Gov. Joe Lombardo, wrote a letter to Biden opposing proposed EPA emission standards, claiming the administration was mandating EV production and urging it to hit the brakes.

Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: info@nevadacurrent.com. Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Nevada Current under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.