I know what you’re thinking: Aren’t electric vehicles (EV’s) only for rich people? Don’t worry, I used to think the same way. The word EV made me think of $80,000+ Teslas or similar high-end cars that I or my family could never afford. However, with technology moving forward at a fast rate, EVs have become more common, more accessible and more ready to bring clean air and fuel savings to the neighborhoods that need these benefits most.
Those neighborhoods tend to be in communities of color, with lower incomes and high levels of air pollution. And help is on the way in the form of a new campaign called Charge Ahead California!
I grew up close to the U.S. – Mexico border, the most crossed border in the world. My family and I lived two blocks from Interstate 5, a busy highway that saw many commercial trucks and buses make their way north towards Los Angeles. Because this was all my family could afford, we had no choice but to live in a home close to the highway and be exposed to high levels of air pollution every single day.
Our communities face major health problems because of exposure to higher levels of air pollution. They, like my own family, live near busy roads and highways. A recent MIT study found that traffic pollution causes almost 6,000 premature deaths in California, almost twice the number of traffic accidents. This must be stopped, our communities need to be able to breathe clean air and not suffer from asthma or any other disease related to air pollution.
Since transportation produces almost 40% of California’s air pollution, the Charge Ahead California! Campaign will aim to put 1 million cars, trucks and buses on California roads over the next ten years to help California reduce air pollution. Such an aggressive approach to change from gasoline to electric will not only improve air quality, but will also stimulate the economy by creating more jobs and reduce our dependence on gasoline.
This campaign is not just about giving rebates out to the rich so they can buy Teslas. This campaign is about making EVs more affordable for everyone, help reduce air pollution that comes from trucks and buses, and create more jobs. The campaign will focus on directing current polluter fees on oil companies to fund existing incentive programs and develop infrastructure to increase access to zero-emission transportation in disadvantaged communities.
All this will help families like my own, who faced a constant threat from air pollution to benefit from the conversation of gasoline to electric vehicles. It’s time to bring these benefits to the neighborhoods that need them the most.