By Nick Cahill
SAN FRANCISCO – California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a pack of climate change bills late Thursday that he hopes will rid the state’s notoriously crowded freeways of “dirty cars and trucks.”
In a signing ceremony aboard the San Francisco Bay Area’s first-ever hybrid electric ferry, Brown inked 16 bills including a measure aimed at increasing the number of electric vehicles in Uber and Lyft’s ride-share fleets, and a new program that will reimburse Californians who buy replacement electric vehicle batteries.
“Whether we travel by car, bus or boat, the need to move to zero-emission transportation is urgent,” Brown said in a statement. “These bills will help get more clean cars on the road and reduce harmful emissions.”
The transportation package is supposed to push California toward Brown’s mandate of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on state roads by 2025 and 5 million by 2030.
According to the latest state update, there are around 323,000 clean cars, trucks and buses currently in operation out of more than 24 million total registered passenger vehicles.
Senate Bill 1014 directs two state agencies to work with ride-share companies to infuse more zero-emission vehicles into their fleets and subsequently reduce greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile.
The state’s utilities regulator recently reported that adding electric vehicles to ride-share companies is the best and quickest way to reduce emissions from California’s transportation industry.
State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, said her bill will force Lyft and Uber to partner with regulators in reducing the number of fossil-fuel burning vehicles.
“By increasing [electric] and other zero-emission vehicles, SB 1014 gets transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft on board with California’s ambitious climate protection and clean air goals,” Skinner said in a statement.
A major concern for Californians shopping for their first electric vehicle is the looming cost of buying a replacement battery, as new ones can range from $5,000 to $15,000.
Assembly Bill 193, by Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes, creates the Zero-Emission Assurance Project and offers new battery and maintenance rebates for electric vehicle owners. It also creates a rebate up to $1,800 for used zero-emission purchases and Cervantes says it will encourage middle-class and low-income Californians to swap in gas guzzlers for zero-emission cars.
“AB 193 will make zero-emission vehicles more accessible to the working families of California, and provide a level of consumer protection for early zero-emission vehicle investors,” Cervantes, D-Corona, said.
Brown also signed legislation to make permanent an agricultural worker vanpool program, open up more clean vehicle rebates for low-income households and Senate Bill 957, which allows certain owners of used zero-emissions cars to receive carpool lane access.
The signings capped off the second day of the Global Climate Action Summit hosted by Brown in San Francisco. Government leaders from across the globe have gathered to make clean air commitments and discuss plans to stem climate change.
“We have to replace fossil fuel vehicles with hydrogen or electric,” Brown said Thursday during a talk with the governors of Hawaii, Connecticut and Washington state.