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BALTIMORE -- In early August, Maryland released its draft plan to spend the $75 million it is receiving as part of the Volkswagen emissions cheating settlement. While it allocates the maximum allowable 15 percent ($11.3 million) to electric vehicle charging infrastructure and makes some money available for the purchase of electric buses, the plan still allows for much of the money to be used on new diesel or compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle replacements.
“The Volkswagen Settlement provides Maryland with a historic opportunity to move forward in the march towards transportation electrification,” said Emily Scarr, director of Maryland PIRG. “This draft plan is a step in the right direction, but it could have been a giant leap.”
Transportation is the single largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. today. On top of that, the pollution from cars and trucks can have other frightening impacts on our health and environment, causing asthma, allergies, acid rain and smog. Reducing pollution from our transportation system is vital to our air quality and for addressing global warming.
“We need to electrify our transportation system -- and fast,” Scarr continued. “Electric vehicles have no tailpipe emissions, meaning people are exposed to far fewer toxic fumes.”
Under the draft plan, approximately $12.5 million will be used to purchase ten new electric buses to transport airport travelers to and from BWI Marshall Airport. An additional $8 million will be made available for the replacement of old transit and school buses. That money can be used to purchase new electric buses, but could also be used to purchase new diesel or CNG buses.
“Investing even a penny of the VW settlement in diesel and natural gas technologies is a dangerous mistake and a missed opportunity,” concluded Scarr. “We should be using this money to accelerate the transformation to an all-electric, clean transportation network that will help reduce illness, save lives and protect the planet. Maryland gets part-way there, but we urge the state to revise the plan so that all the money is spent on electrification.”
Maryland PIRG recommends that, in addition to allocating the maximum allowable 15 percent to electric vehicle charging infrastructure, the state should spend the entire remaining 85 percent on electric buses. Ensuring that the funds are used in this way has several distinct benefits including, but not limited to:
- Drastically reducing NOx, ground-level ozone (smog) and particulate matter to protect our health and environment;
- Significantly reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions;
- Reducing long-term fuel consumption, maintenance and operating costs of public fleet vehicles;
- Since electricity prices are more stable than gas and diesel prices, this adds needed stability to the price of powering vehicles; and
- Increasing public awareness and adoption of electric vehicles as cleaner alternatives to traditional gas-powered vehicles.
Maryland PIRG is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.
For more on why we need to make the switch to electric buses, see Maryland PIRG’s report: Electric Buses: Clean Transportation for Healthier Communities and Cleaner Air.
For more on the need to invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, see Maryland PIRG’s report: Plugging In: Readying America’s Cities for the Arrival of Electric Vehicles.
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