Green living is the future. But the power of our everyday actions to aid the environment can only be unleashed when green choices become a bigger part of our lives.
This is why Electric Vehicle (EV) Week is so important. All week, events from San Francisco to Silicon Valley are showcasing the potential for electric vehicle technology to change the world – one car at a time. Before the week is over, I urge Governor Jerry Brown to sign legislation maintaining a vital incentive for Californians to buy electric vehicles.
As is the case with any new technology, electric cars must compete on both cost and convenience. Although my efforts to expand electric vehicle tax credits are ongoing, the governor has a chance to ensure that electric vehicles are significantly more convenient than other cars.
If signed into law, AB 266 and SB 286 will extend the Clean Air Vehicle Sticker Program for 5 years. It gives plug-in drivers a fast pass through traffic as an incentive to invest in electric vehicle technology. More specifically, the owners of plug-in cars may drive alone in carpool lanes and for free in carpool lanes converted to toll roads. But first they must obtain and place on their vehicle a set of special stickers from the DMV.
AB 266 extends the validity of the “white sticker,” which extends these fast pass benefits to owners of electric and other zero-emission vehicles. SB 286 extends the “green sticker” that is available to plug-in hybrid owners. Without these bills, the sticker program expires in 15 months. That would be a huge loss.
Across California, there are nearly 30,000 white-stickered cars and 16,000 green-stickered cars. As a percentage, it’s a rounding error among the 28 million vehicles on our roads. We need to up these numbers to get cleaner air, reduce the incidence of respiratory disease, and confront climate change.
California has the toughest clean air and clean fuel standards in the nation. Yet, transportation continues to be the source of 40 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions and smog. Clearly, we must think beyond petroleum and encourage more Californians to buy cleaner cars. Electric cars.
Governor Brown agrees. Last year, he signed an executive order outlining an aspirational goal for California to have 1.5 million zero emission vehicles on its roads by 2025. We have a long way to go and a short time to get there.
This is one among many reasons why we must extend the sticker program. California’s car market is booming. Sales estimates are projected to be 1.7 million new cars this year – nearly double their recessionary low in 2009. Consumer barriers to electric technology are decreasing. Car manufacturers are offering more and less expensive electric cars than ever. And, Californians can finally finance the cost and in-home installation of accelerated charging equipment with a car dealership when purchasing an electric car.
Furthermore, as the home of many electric car companies, extending this program will keep good green jobs right here in California by sending a firm signal to manufacturers that we want to nurture this industry.
We need to build on this momentum and create a mindset for Californians to consider the environment when buying a car. This is the future. We must embrace it so that electric vehicle technology can take off rapidly.
Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes portions of San Francisco and South San Francisco along with Daly City and Colma.