The U.K. plans to ban new fossil-fuel-powered cars by 2030. The Netherlands and Germany have the same goal. Now the state of Washington plans to follow, making it the first in the U.S. to move as quickly to phase out polluting cars. In nine years, if you want to buy a new car or light truck in Washington, it will have to be electric.
“When you really look at the issue, there’s not any single factor that would prevent a state from doing it,” says Matthew Metz, co-executive director of Coltura, a nonprofit that led a coalition of organizations in the state that started advocating for a new bill in 2017, after seeing how European policies were changing. “Given that we’re in a climate crisis, and that we’re way below our targets, in terms of reducing emissions, this is actually a pretty credible path for taking care of a lot of those emissions.” The bill, which sets a target for all model-year-2030 passenger vehicles to be electric, just passed the legislature and is expected to be signed by the governor.
In the state, as in the U.S. overall, emissions from vehicles now have a bigger carbon footprint than anything else. Ironically, the bill doesn’t talk about emissions because of a quirk in the Clean Air Act that means that states can’t set stricter emissions standards than the federal government. (California is the exception, because it had emissions standards in place to combat its smog problems before the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970.)
Instead of talking about climate change, the bill talks about the other reasons to shift to electric cars. The billions that residents spend on gas each year go out of state, because the state doesn’t produce gas; electric cars can run on locally generated electricity, a large percentage of which is renewable. [Continue reading…]