Initially published at the Richmond Times-Dispatch

The 2023 General Assembly session is around the corner, and the partisan fearmongering has unfortunately already begun. Republicans pre-filed seven bills to repeal clean car standards, as called for by Del. Kathy Byron in her recent column [“Virginia must reverse course on clean cars law”].

Let’s be clear. For combating climate change and preserving our beautiful commonwealth, vehicle emissions are our biggest challenge. To meet this challenge, we need to phase in electric vehicles and expand access to public transportation.

Virginia has not yet adopted our stricter emission standards, which call for a percentage of new vehicles sold in the state to be electric, but we are already well on our way to abiding by them. In the first half of 2022, 7% of new vehicles sold in the commonwealth were electric. Next year, when our participation begins, the target number is 8%. Virginians are ready – we just need to maintain our current policy so that manufacturers send us EVs, which are heavily prioritized for states with stricter standards.

We have $106 million in state funds heading out the door to set up charging stations along major highway corridors. There are massive federal incentives for personal charging infrastructure, and plenty more that the state could and should pursue to continue to build out our highway charging system.

Let’s not give into scare tactics. Virginia is ready for EVs, and we need them to take on climate change and improve air quality. Now is not the time to throw in the towel.

-Victoria Higgins, Richmond

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