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Report Offers Blueprint for MT's Clean Transportation Future

Finding a charging station can induce anxiety for electric-vehicle owners, but six stations are located in and around Yellowstone National Park. (Herbert/National Parks Service)
Finding a charging station can induce anxiety for electric-vehicle owners, but six stations are located in and around Yellowstone National Park. (Herbert/National Parks Service)
February 27, 2020

HELENA, Mont. -- Montanans will have to change how they get around in order to cut their carbon footprint, and a new report offers a road map on how to get there.

Among the recommendations in "Destination: Zero Carbon" is phasing out fossil fuel powered car sales by 2035.

Skye Borden, state director of the Environment Montana Research and Policy Center, says range anxiety is a barrier to electric vehicle sales.

She notes about eight EV brands have single charges ranges of 200 miles or more, and even in Big Sky Country, most Montanans' car trips can be done without charging away from home.

"But it does impact the psychology of EV drivers, and as we know, psychology impacts consumer choices," she states.

Borden says large Mountain West states need to invest more in infrastructure for charging stations.

By 2030, the report suggests states electrify school and transit buses and double the number of people who walk, bike or use public transit through infrastructure improvements.

Borden says one source of funding for these projects could be states' settlement with Volkswagen, after the car company was found cheating on emissions tests.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality will have $12.6 million to spend over the next decade.

Borden maintains the country has the tools to accomplish the ambitious goals in this report.

"Things that seemed completely impossible just 10 years ago now seem totally reasonable and are doable because of the technological advances that we've made and because of the changes in human sentiment and political will," she points out.

The transportation sector is the second largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in Montana, and the largest nationwide.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - MT