Freeman joins county and Easton city officials to promote clean vehicles
EASTON, Pa. — State Rep. Robert Freeman joined Northampton County and Easton officials Tuesday to promote transition to zero-emission transportation and advocate for the strongest possible federal clean car standards.
With an influx of funding directed to charging infrastructure and battery manufacturing as well as tax incentives for consumers from President Biden’s administration, numerous federal, state and local officials are pushing for a shift to zero-emission vehicles across the country.
- State Rep. Robert Freeman joined local and county officials to push for a transition to zero-emission vehicles in Easton on Tuesday
- Freeman noted the economic, environmental, and health benefits associated with electric vehicles over gas vehicles
- Freeman and his fellow speakers urged the Biden administration and EPA to finalize proposed safeguards
Beyond that, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency introduced draft safeguards in April 2023 for the next round of clean car standards covering model years 2027 through 2032, aiming for an estimated 67% of all new car sales to be electric vehicles by 2032.
As the EPA’s announcement was merely a draft rule, speakers at Tuesday’s event called out the agency to finalize the rule by the end of the year to speed up the national transition to zero-emission vehicles.
“To successfully combat climate change and mitigate its worst impacts, we need to transition to a future without harmful pollution and stronger federal clean car standards will be key to doing that,” Freeman said.
“But their benefits don’t stop there. These standards will spur innovation in the EV industry, which will lead to growth in good-paying jobs, make EVs more affordable, help drivers save money at the pump and lower transportation costs for Pennsylvania families.
"The growing number of Easton residents who commute long distances, in particular, will realize the benefits of these advancements.”
Transportation sector is highest polluter
According to a release from Freeman’s office, the transportation sector is one of the largest sources of carbon pollution, which has been shown to push climate change.
The Lehigh Valley already experiences issues with the amount of carbon emissions in the area. Keystone Cement Co. in Bath and Lehigh Cement Co. in Nazareth sit at 10th and 11th place on PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center's “Dirty Dozen” rankings of the state's top polluters.
“Less transportation pollution and great consumer savings will make a positive, long-term impact on the quality of life in our community and across our state.”Easton Councilman David O’Connell
Those companies emitted 697,880 and 679,570 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, respectively, into the atmosphere.
But emissions from vehicles across the region are considerable as well: according to the EPA, a typical passenger vehicle emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, assuming a fuel economy of about 22.2 miles per gallon for a vehicle driven 11,500 miles per year.
A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.
According to a Pennsylvania Highway Statistics 2019 Highway Data report, vehicles travel 14,823,542 miles each day in the Lehigh Valley, meaning those vehicles put out nearly 5,930 metric tons of carbon dioxide daily.
Over the course of a year, that accumulates to over 2.16 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, even more than the cement companies pump out.
“If we hope to create a cleaner future and a robust clean energy economy for our city’s residents — and all Pennsylvanians — the EPA must finalize the strongest possible fuel economy and carbon pollution standards by the end of this year,” Easton Councilman David O’Connell said at Tuesday’s event.
“Less transportation pollution and great consumer savings will make a positive, long-term impact on the quality of life in our community and across our state.”
Transportation sector is highest polluter
Beyond the climate and financial advantages linked to cleaner vehicles on the road, speakers at city hall emphasized the significant effects on public health such a transition would yield.
Northampton County Commissioner Tara Zrinski noted Northampton only receives a “C” grade from the American Lung Association for the ozone and particulate matter pollution in the air, “much of which comes from cars and trucks.”
“Research has shown that the more zero-pollution vehicles we have on the road, the less pollution we have in the air."Northampton County Commissioner Tara Zrinski
“But research has shown that the more zero-pollution vehicles we have on the road, the less pollution we have in the air,” Zrinski said.
“For the thousands of children and adults in Northampton County and the hundreds of thousands across the state who suffer from asthma, as well as communities of color who have long suffered disproportionately from this pollution, we can’t act soon enough.
"Stronger standards for clean cars are an absolute necessity if we want to improve the air we breathe.”
The speakers continued to press the urgency of a new round of clean car standards, encouraging Biden’s administration and the EPA to finalize the proposed safeguards by the end of the year to address “the problem of tailpipe pollution from vehicles.”
Both the federal and state government have promoted buying electric vehicles by offering tax credits. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, as of Dec. 31, 2022, Pennsylvania has 47,440 all-electric vehicles registered.
That figure is dwarfed by the total number of vehicles in the state — about 10.7 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That's eclipsed by California, Texas, Florida and Illinois.
However, according to the Pew Research Center, 38% of Americans have said they are very or somewhat likely to seriously consider buying an electric car when they go to buy their next vehicle.
Further incentives from federal and state governments could provide assistance, in addition to establishing infrastructure to make those vehicles a viable option for buyers.
Just recently, the state Transportation Department announced $798,869 has been designated for a charging station at the Turkey Hill Mini Market off of I-78 Exit 57 at 2855 Lehigh St., Allentown, and $727,420 has been designated for a charging station at the Wawa off Interstate 78 Exit 49 A-B at 7572 Schantz Road, in Upper Macungie Township.
Similar projects are in the works across 35 counties in the state, all in an effort to “expand access to, and [increase] the reliability of, electric vehicle charging within Pennsylvania,” Secretary of Transportation Mike Carroll said in a release.