Merkley bill seeks 100% shift to zero-emission vehicles

Merkley bill seeks 100% shift to zero-emission vehicles

WASHINGTON - Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-OR., and Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA-49) introduced Wednesday in the Senate and House the Zero-Emission Vehicles Act of 2019, which they said presents a bold plan for transitioning the United States to 100% zero-emission vehicles.

The lawmakers said their plan will position the United States to lead the world in vehicle innovation, tackle climate chaos and reduce asthma attacks and premature deaths caused by the pollution gasoline engines produce.

“The future of our planet is at stake, and so is the future of our economy,” said Merkley. “If we lead the world in cutting-edge vehicle deployment, we can beat our global competitors, create good jobs here in America, and win the innovation race for new technologies. This legislation embraces the opportunity for America to sell to the world the revolutionary technology that will make our air cleaner, communities healthier, and workforce stronger.”  

“The climate crisis is a defining issue of our time, and we must pursue bold measures commensurate with the enormous challenge we face,” said Levin. “We can combat climate change aggressively, improve public health, and lead the world in manufacturing innovative technology by embracing zero emissions vehicles at the same time. I am proud to lead ambitious legislation that will accomplish all of those critical goals.”

According to a 2016 report issued by the American Lung Association, transitioning to zero-emission vehicles would deliver $33 billion in total health and climate savings by 2050. The 90% reduction in the pollution that causes smog and soot would translate to 195,000 fewer lost workdays, 96,000 fewer asthma attacks, and 2,200 fewer premature deaths.

Ten states currently require that a certain percentage of new vehicles sold within the state must be zero-emission vehicles. While state commitments like these play a vital role in the transition to electric and zero-emission vehicles, Merkley and Levin said a federal policy is needed to ensure the entire country experiences the benefits of ZEVs in protecting public health and reducing lost workdays.

How the Zero-Emission Vehicles Act of 2019 Works

The Zero-Emission Vehicles Act would set a Federal Zero-Emissions Vehicle standard to boost the market for battery electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The standard would require that by 2030, 50% of sales for new passenger vehicles are ZEVs, and ramp up 5% each year to 100% by 2040. The ZEV standard is only applied to the sale of new cars.

The Zero Emission Vehicles Act is cosponsored by Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) in the Senate, and Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO) in the House.

A copy of the Zero Emission Vehicles Act of 2019 can be found here.