Clean Cars Are the Future – It’s Time to Update Oregon’s Standards

It is (past) time we break up with oil! Not only do the big changes in the price of gas affect our wallets, but burning fossil fuels is bad for the climate and our health. Oregon has the opportunity to be a leader in the transition to electric vehicles and get on the path to meeting our climate pollution reduction goals by adopting the Advanced Clean Car II Rules.

CLIMATE

Transportation is the largest climate-polluting sector in Oregon, making up about 40 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions. Over 60 percent of this pollution comes from passenger cars and trucks. As we have seen the past few summers with unprecedented heat waves and wildfires, the effects of climate change are being felt here and now in Oregon. We do not have time to wait to take action.

HEALTH 

Toxic vehicle pollution is not only fueling the climate crisis, but is also linked to higher rates of premature death, cancer, heart disease, and breathing problems like asthma in kids and adults. The American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report Card gave Oregon failing grades for nearly all counties where data was collected. This air pollution disproportionately affects Oregonians living on low-incomes and communities of color, who are located next to busy trucking corridors, bus depots, distribution hubs, and ports, in part due to racist public policies like urban renewal districts, redlining, and highway construction. 

WHAT NOW?

While we are working to ensure that we have more options to get around, like expanding clean public transit and safe ways to walk and bike, we also need to ensure that we are cleaning up the passenger vehicles that make up a large portion of our transportation system. Over a decade ago, OEC pushed for adoption of Oregon’s Clean Car Standards, which made Oregon a leader in cleaner, less climate-polluting vehicles, but those standards are now outdated and expire in a few short years. Oregon has the opportunity to regain its leadership role and join a growing number of states in updating its vehicle emissions standards.  

The Clean Air Act allows California to adopt vehicle emission standards that are stronger than the federal standard and other states, including Oregon, can choose to adopt those standards identically. This summer, California adopted the Advanced Clean Cars II (ACCII) Rules, updating its vehicle emission standard for 2026 through 2035. If Oregon adopts these rules, each year car manufacturers will be expected to increase the sale of Zero-Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) in Oregon so that all new cars by model year 2035 will be zero-emissions. 

Oregon must ensure that ZEVs are an affordable option for everyone. Many car manufacturers have already announced plans to transition all of their models to electric vehicles of all shapes, sizes, and price ranges, with an increased number of options by 2025. With the price of batteries declining, the difference between the upfront price of an EV and a gasoline vehicle is rapidly decreasing. On top of that there are many state and federal incentives for EVs. Oregon has one of the best EV rebate programs in the country! These benefits can be combined with federal tax credits as well. This means that qualified Oregonians will soon be able to take advantage of up to $15,000 off the cost of an EV at time of purchase.

The Clean Cars rule has the opportunity to ensure that car manufacturers improve access to ZEVs in underserved and frontline communities through Community-Based Clean Mobility Programs, which would provide access to electric vehicles without having to own a car, including supporting e-bikes, e-scooters, electric car sharing, vanpools and more. 

Oregon’s Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) will be voting to adopt these rules in December. The comment period is open now through 4pm on October 21st, 2022.  

Tell the EQC to adopt these rules this year!

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