RELEASE: “CHARGE AHEAD CALIFORNIA” GOALS WOULD SPEED STATE’S TRANSITION TO A MILLION ZERO-EMISSION VEHICLES

February 24, 2014

 Proposal Will Bring One Million Electric Cars, Trucks and Buses in Ten Years;

 Promote Clean Air and Focus Benefits in Low-Income Communities Most Impacted by Pollution

 SACRAMENTO –Senator Kevin De León (D-Los Angeles) has introduced a bill to commit California to a goal of one million electric cars, trucks and buses on the state’s roads within the next ten years. The “Charge Ahead California” bill (SB 1275) is geared toward improving air quality across the state, and ensures that the benefits of electric transportation and clean air reach low-income communities and communities of color most directly impacted by fossil fuel pollution.

“If we’re going to clean our dirty air, electric vehicles can’t just be driven by the wealthy,” Senator De León said. “This legislation will make electric vehicles available to all Californians.”

The policies proposed by Charge Ahead California would be funded with proceeds from industrial carbon emitters participating in the state’s cap-and-trade auctions. Governor Brown’s 2014-2015 budget proposal recommends directing $200 million in auction proceeds to electric transportation. Under the provisions of SB 535, a law De León authored in 2012, proceeds from the auctions must prioritize disadvantaged communities that have been most impacted by pollution and climate change.

California has seven of the ten worst polluted U.S. cities. Forty percent of the state’s population lives near a highway or other busy road—more than any other state. Cars and trucks are the single largest source of global warming pollution in California. They are also the largest contributor to air pollution that harms public health.

The bill deploys a number of strategies to speed California’s transition to an electric transportation system, including:

  • Extending and improving the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. The CVRP has been instrumental in facilitating the sale of over 47,000 clean cars in California. The Charge Ahead California legislation seeks to expand funding for the program and to improve access to electric cars for working class households.
  • Financing options and expanded charging infrastructure to increase access for low-income communities. The bill supports new charging infrastructure in multi-unit dwellings. It also boosts car-sharing programs and improves access to credit for electric vehicle purchases, with better financing options to bring down the upfront cost of vehicle ownership for low- and moderate-income consumers.

Bahram Fazeli, policy director for Communities for a Better Environment, an environmental justice organization that works with community members in De León’s district and is one of the sponsors of the Charge Ahead California bill, says the bill will help communities near busy roadways that have been most affected by pollution and climate change.

"The need to address tailpipe pollution in our communities with its devastating health impacts is urgent and the solutions are available. This bill paves an equitable and effective path to putting one million electric vehicles on the road," Fazeli said.

“Accelerating the transition to electric vehicles will bring tremendous benefits to all Californians,” said Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate with Environment California, a statewide environmental organization and one of the sponsors of the bill.  “This bill will put California in the driver’s seat when it comes to reducing air pollution and climate change, while saving consumers money at the pump.”

SB 1275 is sponsored by the Coalition for Clean Air, Communities for a Better Environment, Environment California, The Greenlining Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Media Contacts:
Claire Conlon, Office of Senator Kevin De León
claire.conlon @ sen.ca.gov or (916) 651-4022

Bahram Fazeli, Communities for a Better Environment
bfazeli @ cbecal.org or (323) 826-9771 x100

Michelle Kinman, Environment California
michelle @ environmentcalifornia.org or (310) 621-8935

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