Climate change in California is not a future threat; we are already dealing with extreme droughts and destructive wildfires. We need to curb global warming, and to do that, we need to greatly reduce emissions from passenger cars and trucks. In California, these vehicles produce more than a quarter of the state’s man-made emissions, more than agriculture, commercial and residential buildings combined.
Switching from gasoline and diesel engines to electric motors is one of the most effective ways to reduce both global warming emissions and air pollution. In California, driving on electricity using an average plug-in vehicle can reduce emissions to that of a hypothetical gasoline car that achieves a fuel economy of 116 miles per gallon. Put another way, driving the average electric car in California reduces emissions by more than 70% compared to the average new gasoline car. And this benefit will only grow over time as California’s power grid gets cleaner with more generation from renewable sources.
This November, California voters have the opportunity to accelerate the transition from gasoline to electricity by passing Proposition 30. This proposition would support both incentive programs for zero-emission vehicles and investments in charging infrastructure, while would complement existing regulations on clean vehicles.
What does Prop 30 do?
If adopted by voters, the measure would raise about $4 billion annually from raising taxes on income in excess of $2 million (just the wealthiest 0.2% of taxpayers) and direct the revenue to:
- Incentives for zero emission vehicles (ZEV) and other clean mobility options (45%),
- Charging and fueling infrastructure for zero emission vehicles (35%)
- Suppression and prevention of forest fires (20%).
Incentives to help buy cleaner vehicles
The purpose of the ballot initiative is to make ZEVs accessible and affordable to all California residents and reduce emissions from passenger ZEVs, which are the state’s largest single source of global warming emissions and a major source of air pollution as quickly as possible.
Most of this money should be used to help households, businesses, and governments pay for part of the cost of new passenger ZEVs (such as electric cars, vans, and vans). The rest of the money would be available for other programs. These include payments to businesses and governments to help buy large ZEVs (such as trucks and buses) and programs that encourage less driving and improve local air quality.
The money raised would also go to programs focused on:
- Conversion of medium, heavy and off-road vehicles to ZEVs with a focus on benefiting air quality in low-income and disadvantaged communities.
- Increase access to clean, zero-emission mobility options that do not require car ownership.
- Provide access and financial assistance to moderate-, low-, and disadvantaged communities and consumers to purchase or lease ZEVs.
- Convert passenger vehicles used for high-mileage purposes to ZEVs as quickly as possible to reduce global warming emissions as quickly as possible.
Investments in charging stations
This money would be used to install and operate ZEV fueling and charging stations in places such as apartment buildings, single-family homes, and public places.
For both vehicle and charging station investments, at least half of the money must be spent on projects that benefit people living in or near heavily polluted and/or low-income communities. The rest of the money could be spent on projects anywhere in the state.
Why is Lyft involved?
If you’ve seen the coverage of Proposition 30, you probably know that the ride-hailing company Lyft supports this proposal. Lyft would indirectly benefit from programs that accelerate California’s transition from oil to electric vehicles because its drivers would have greater access to zero-emission vehicles. Lyft, along with Uber and other “transit network companies” are required by the Clean Miles Standard to reduce their emissions and switch to ZEVs by 2030, and policies accelerating ZEV adoption and use among California drivers They will help you comply. UCS was a leader in shaping and championing the Clean Miles standard to ensure these carriers’ emissions are as low as possible.
Prop 30 will mean more ZEVs on the road at an earlier date and therefore should help Lyft and Uber reduce emissions from their operations. But the incentive and infrastructure investments are not designed to specifically benefit these companies, but to help California drivers transition to cleaner transportation more quickly. The claim that Proposition 30 benefits only one company is simply false.
Who supports Proposition 30 and why?
UCS supports Prop 30 because it will reduce air pollution and global warming emissions in the state. something we need to do as quickly as possible to curb climate change and reduce exposure to harmful air pollution. The investments possible with Proposition 30 funds are complementary to regulatory advances that UCS has championed in the state, including the Clean Mileage Standard, the Clean Advanced Cars II (including ZEV) regulation, the Clean Advanced Trucks rule, and the next Advanced Clean Fleet Rule.
UCS is not alone in supporting Proposition 30. Other advocacy groups like the Coalition for Clean Air, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the American Lung Association, and the California Environmental Voters, to name a few, also support this effort.
Mayors across the state also support Proposition 30, including the mayors of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Long Beach, and San Jose.
California voters will soon be receiving ballots in the mail. A “yes” vote on Proposition 30 will help slow climate change, mitigate wildfires caused by global warming, and clean the air.