Oregon U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D) and California Representative Mike Levin (D) have introduced legislation to end American sales of new gasoline-powered vehicles in 15 years.
The two describe the proposal, Zero-Emission Vehicles Act of 2020, as 'path-breaking' legislation that would create jobs, improve health, and address climate chaos.
Pollution created by gasoline engines is widely understood by the medical community to cause premature deaths and asthma attacks, and may also increase mortality among coronavirus patients, according to a release from Merkley's office. One in 13 Americans live with asthma, and millions of Americans who have had the coronavirus may suffer from long-term respiratory complications the release stares, adding that carbon pollution from cars is also a leading cause of the climate crisis that has been driving catastrophic storms, wildfires, heat waves, and droughts.
“If we don’t make things in America, we won’t have a middle class in America. And if we don’t save our planet from climate chaos, our entire economy and our nation’s public health will end up in shambles,” Merkley said. “The whole world, with a few science-denying holdouts in America, recognizes the imperative of ending carbon pollution. By moving aggressively and boldly now, we can help save Americans from the dire health and economic impacts of the climate crisis, and make sure American workers are the ones building the next generation of cars for the world.”
“We are already experiencing devastating effects of the climate crisis in California, but we can still protect our planet for future generations if we take aggressive action now,” Levin said. “Transitioning to zero-emission vehicles will drastically reduce harmful carbon pollution, improve public health, and create the cleantech jobs of the future right here in America. I’m proud that my home state has embraced cleaner cars – including the ones in my driveway – and reaped the economic rewards. My bill with Senator Merkley and Congressman Neguse will ensure that the rest of the country experiences the same benefits.”
The introduction follows the Trump administration’s weakening of auto emission standards, and the adoption of legislation by states across America—including Oregon—to dramatically lower vehicle pollution.
The Zero-Emission Vehicles Act would fix what is currently only a patchwork of state-level policies by setting a Federal Zero-Emissions Vehicle standard to boost the market for battery electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The standard would require that by 2025, 50 percent of sales for new passenger vehicles are ZEVs, and ramp up 5 percent each year to 100 percent by 2035. The ZEV standard would only be applied to the sale of new cars.
The Zero Emission Vehicles Act is cosponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) in the Senate, and Representatives Joe Neguse (D-CO-1), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE-At Large), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1), Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), Judy Chu (D-CA-27), Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO-5), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA-11), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA-18), Jared Huffman (D-CA-2), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-7), Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47), Jerry Nadler (D-NY-10), and Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1) in the House.