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Advocates call for more electric vehicles

by: COURTESY ENVIRONMENT OREGON - The benefits of electric vehicles are expalined in a report released Thuesday during a press conference at Electric Avenue at Portland State Univeristy. Speakers included (center) Ashley Horvat, the State of Oregon Chief EV Officer.Oregon and nation leaders should continue working to increase number of electric vehicles on the road, according to a report released Tuesday by the Environment Oregon Research and Policy Center.

The report, titled “Driving Cleaner: More Electric Vehicles Mean Less Pollution,” found there are already more than 220,000 all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in use in the country today. In Oregon alone, such vehicles could prevent more than 213,000 metric tons of climate-changing carbon pollution annually by 2025 — the equivalent of saving nearly 24 million gallons of gasoline per year, or eliminating tailpipe pollution from 45,000 of today’s cars and trucks.

“It’s time to charge ahead,” says Rikki Seguin, conservation advocate with Environment Oregon. “It’s not just because electric cars are speedy, quiet and cool-looking – they are also one of the most important tools we have to break our dependence on oil, clean up our air, improve our health and protect our climate.”

The report was released during a press conference at Electric Avenue on the Portland State University campus that includes a half-block of charging stations. In addition to Seguin, speakers included: Ashley Horvat, State of Oregon Chief Electric Vehicle Officer; John Christian, Chairman of Oregon Electric Vehicle Association; Jeff Allen, Executive Director of Drive Oregon; and Patrick Connor, Plug In America.

The report found that EVs are cleaner than vehicles that run on oil, even when charged with coal-fired power. That’s because electric motors are much more efficient than internal combustion engine, the report says.

EVs in Oregon are even cleaner because the state incorporates more wind, solar and other forms of zero-emission energy in its electricity system. Ultimately, an EV charged completely with wind or solar power can operate with little to no impact on public health or contribution to global warming.

“If you love this beautiful place we call home, likely proudly displaying that love with the ‘Heart in Oregon’ bumper sticker, ditch the gasoline car and show Oregon how much you really love it. Drive an EV in Oregon and keep its air, communities, forests, coast, wildlife, and ultimately its economic resiliency strong and healthy so you can travel Oregon forever,” says Horvat.

Because of the increasing sales of EVs — ranging from all-electric models like the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model-S to plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt — Americans are traveling increasingly longer distances on electricity alone.

“But we need more electric vehicles on the road,” says Seguin. “So we’re calling on our leaders to get in the driver’s seat and make electric cars as convenient, affordable and widespread as cars currently powered by oil.”

Oregon was praised in the report for partnering with private utilities and EV manufacturers to increase the number of public charging stations. Efforts led by Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber include the completion of the fast-charging network known as the West Coast Electric Highway.

But the report said that more needs to be done, including:

• Oregon should follow through on the ambitious goals for electric vehicle deployment set through the Zero Emission Vehicle program. In particular, by following through with the electric vehicle action plan that Governor Kitzhaber announced at the end of May, Oregon can get more electric vehicles on the road.

• Governments at all levels should make it easier for people to own and drive electric vehicles, for example, ensuring convenient access to charging infrastructure is also important. Through projects such as the West Coast Electric Highway and the TIGER II Grant for EV infrastructure, Oregon continues to install EV fast-charging stations along major corridors.

• Oregon’s own Clean Fuels Program is good for Oregon jobs, economy, and health by requiring transportation fuels to become cleaner and less carbon-intensive over time. Oregon can continue to support these diversified fuel choices for business and consumers by lifting the clean fuels sunset.

• America should generate at least 25 percent of its electricity from clean, renewable sources of energy by 2025, much like Oregon’s own Renewable Portfolio Standard.

• And finally, the EPA should help clean up the electricity system by finalizing the recently announced federal carbon pollution standards for power plants, and Oregon should support and implement them.

“Let’s steer toward a safer climate and a cleaner, healthier future,” says Seguin. “Future generations will thank us for it.”