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Republicans have put Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress; state legislatures are missing people from working-class jobs, and FDA has advice for formulating the next COVID vaccine for a new strain.

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House Republicans vote to hold AG Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress. The Senate battles it out over federal protections for in vitro fertilization. North Dakota becomes the first state to impose an age cutoff to run for Congress.

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Rural America's job growth is up, but still hasn't recovered from the pandemic, about one in five rural Americans lives in a town with a prison, rural women seeking birth control have a new option, and dark skies beckon as summer arrives.

Four Pivotal Electric-Vehicle Bills Advance to Virginia Senate

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021   

RICHMOND, Va. -- Following Virginia's landmark passage of the Clean Economy Act last year, four bills advancing to the state Senate would help make the Commonwealth more environmentally friendly by electrifying its transportation sector.

Studies show cars and trucks are the leading cause of air pollution in Virginia, and House Bill 1965 would establish stricter clean-car emissions standards.

Harry Godfrey, executive director for the group Advanced Energy Economy, said the bill also would require carmakers to send more electric vehicles, or EVs, to Virginia's auto dealers to encourage folks to buy electric.

"Low-emission vehicle standards and zero emission vehicle standards are an important aspect of making certain folks actually have access to these vehicles when they go out to buy a new or used vehicle," Godfrey explained. "So this is about making certain those vehicles are actually coming to Virginia."

He noted General Motors' announcement it will only produce electric cars and trucks by 2035 sends a clear message that manufacturers are behind bills such as Virginia's, that tackle emissions pollution.

All four bills have passed the House and face a Senate vote by the end of February, with most Democrats in favor.

With more clean-car policies, tailpipe emissions from cars and light trucks in Virginia could be reduced from 5% to 15% by 2040, according to a Georgetown Climate Center study.

James Bradbury, mitigation program director at the Center, said passing clean-car standards would result in an economic boon with thousands of additional jobs for Virginians.

"That comes from a range of different things," Bradbury observed. "You have more people installing electric charging infrastructure. You have more people at electric utilities building out the grid needed to supply the electricity."

The three other bills that passed from the House to the Senate would provide an EV rebate program, a grant fund to encourage Virginia schools to replace diesel school buses with electric ones, and one to expand the state's EV charging infrastructure.


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