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Report Urges Virginia to Boost Electric-Car Use to Meet Climate Goals

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020   

RICHMOND, Va. -- After passing the Clean Economy Act this year, Virginia is in the vanguard of states moving toward 100% clean electricity. But a new report shows barriers such as low electric-vehicle inventories could prevent the Commonwealth from reaching that goal.

The Virginia Drives Electric report shows more than half of Virginians say they are likely to consider an electric vehicle for their next car, according to Stuart Gardner, program director at Generation 180, which put out the report. But the state lacks pro-EV policies such as those in neighboring Maryland, including requiring automakers to sell a certain number of low-emissions cars.

"We compared six comparable cities in Maryland vs. Virginia and we found, of those six cities, Virginia had 44% - 54% fewer electric vehicles in stock," Gardner said. "So inventory is really a barrier that the average Virginian, even if they want to go electric, they can't because they're just not there at the dealer."

The president of the Virginia Automobile Dealer's Association says it supports efforts to increase EV sales, but policymakers need to conduct additional studies about financial incentives and battery-charging infrastructure in the state.

Gardner said spending time on more studies will just delay taking action on what he thinks is an alarming level of transportation emissions in the Commonwealth. He said the time is right because the General Assembly convenes January 13, and is considering two bills related to EVs. One is a clean-car standard that requires manufacturers to send a certain number of EVs to the state.

"And the other is an incentive, an equitable incentive, that puts, as they say, cash on the hood to help people buy the electric vehicle, to really drive demand, to get people to switch, have their next car to be electric," he said.

In a letter to Virginia's General Assembly leadership, a coalition of environmental groups called on lawmakers to make transportation electrification a top priority for the upcoming session. The group said transportation is the single largest source of greenhouse-gas emissions in the state, making up 48% of carbon-dioxide emissions.


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The climate resilience package includes $1.5 billion for measures to better defend the state against wildfires. (Peter Buschmann/U.S. Forest Service)

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