Editorials

Editorial: The age of the all-electric Valley is upon us

Fresno State president Joseph Castro, center, gets help plugging into an electric-car charging station from project coordinator Devon Fullner, right, at the station’s opening May 6. 2015. The station is at Fresno State just west of the Save Mart Center. The station is open to the public and costs a flat rate of $1 per hour.
Fresno State president Joseph Castro, center, gets help plugging into an electric-car charging station from project coordinator Devon Fullner, right, at the station’s opening May 6. 2015. The station is at Fresno State just west of the Save Mart Center. The station is open to the public and costs a flat rate of $1 per hour. The Fresno Bee File

If we finally are to cleanse our Valley air and make this a more healthy place, we must get belching old cars off the streets and start adding electric cars and plug-in hybrids to our garages.

We wish the path to ending premature deaths and our high asthma rates weren’t so narrow. But the reality is that a combination of the Valley’s bowl shape and warm, sunny weather are the perfect recipe for forming ozone.

What is ozone and why is it bad for us?

It is a corrosive gas that can irritate the lungs and trigger breathing problems, asthma and heart ailments. The Environmental Protection Agency says that a new tougher ozone standard introduced earlier this year will prevent more than 200 premature deaths in 2025, when most of the nation will have complied with the stricter rule.

Change is never easy, but change we must. It helps that the Valley air district has incentive programs to push us in the right direction. These are in addition to the state and federal incentives we cited in a Dec. 23 editorial.

But our ozone problem is so bad that the EPA has given the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Quality Control District until 2037 to meet the higher standard.

Reducing our ozone to the new mark of 70 parts per billion – down from 75 parts per billion, a standard we have yet to achieve – will require us to use cars, trucks, buses, tractors and trains that run on electricity.

“We will have to eliminate emissions associated with fossil-fuel combustion,” said Seyed Sadredin, executive director of the Valley air district.

So, the age of the all-electric Valley is upon us.

Change is never easy, but change we must. It helps that the Valley air district has incentive programs to push us in the right direction. These are in addition to the state and federal incentives we cited in a Dec. 23 editorial.

For example, the district’s “Drive Clean!” program can give an additional $3,000 for the purchase or lease of an all-electric vehicle (with lower amounts for plug-in hybrids). Combined with state and federal rebates, this allows someone interested in going electric to walk into a new-car showroom with $13,000 in incentives.

A person in a low-income household who is driving an old beater, otherwise known as a gross-polluting vehicle, can qualify for $22,500 in district, state and federal assistance for buying or leasing an electric car.

The district determines eligibility for its $9,500 incentive to take gross polluters owned by low-income households off the road at its Tune In Tune Up events.

Employers, too, have an important role to play. The air district provides up to $50,000 a year to businesses and public agencies that invest in charging stations for electric vehicles. There is a caveat: The charging station must be available for public use at least part of the time.

We will have to eliminate emissions associated with fossil fuel combustion.

Seyed Sadredin, executive director of the Valley air district

Our region has a reputation for being skeptical about new technologies. We typically don’t jump on the bandwagon until after others have gone before us.

This time we need to step up and become early adopters.

All of us will benefit from cleaner air, but our children, the elderly and those suffering from heart and lung ailments stand to gain the most, says Gina McCarthy, administrator of the EPA.

And for those who say we can’t afford to go electric, we say, do the math. Be sure to include all the incentives – as well as the staggering costs of missed school days, employee absences, emergency room visits, extended hospital stays and premature deaths.

Upcoming Tune In Tune Up events

  • Jan. 23, Stockton, San Joaquin Fairgrounds
  • Feb. 6, Porterville Fairgrounds
  • Feb. 20, Bakersfield, Kern County Raceway Park
  • Feb. 27, Madera Fairgrounds
  • March 5, Turlock Fairgrounds
  • March 19, Fresno, site to be determined

Additional information: http://valleyair.org/grants/pass.htm

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