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Think globally, act locally: new electric vehicle toolkit for local governments

As international leaders set global climate goals at COP26, toolkit offers solutions for U.S. cities and counties to act on back home
For Immediate Release

PHILADELPHIA -- To successfully address the challenges under discussion at the U.N. climate change conference COP26, the United States needs to clean up its top source of global warming emissions: transportation. Transitioning to electric vehicles needs to be a key part of any plan. As Congress debates major EV infrastructure investment, a new report by Environment America Research & Policy Center (the research partner of Environment America), U.S. PIRG Education Fund (the research partner of U.S. PIRG) and Frontier Group shows that state and local governments can pave the way for cleaner transportation.

“Even though more electric vehicles than ever are on the road, cities and counties need to step up their drive to get more Americans to come along for the ride ,” said Morgan Folger, Destination: Zero Carbon Campaign director with Environment America Research & Policy Center and co-author of the report. “By taking the steps detailed in the toolkit, local governments around the country can energize their communities to make the switch to clean electric vehicles.”

The toolkit highlights 20 tools and policies that leading cities have adopted to make it easier to buy and own an EV, including: 

  • Municipal purchasing of EVs

  • Expansion of EV charging infrastructure

  • Electric buses and bikes

  • EV-friendly building codes and zoning requirements

  • Incentives to purchase EVs

  • EV advocacy and resolutions 

The toolkit can also help prepare local government officials for federal investment in electric vehicles. If Congress passes the bipartisan Infrastructure and Investment Act, it will invest $7.5 billion in grant money that local officials can apply for to expand EV charging stations in their communities. The complementary Build Back Better framework would create new funding opportunities for electric vehicle purchasing incentives. To make the most of those investments, local governments will need to play a role in educating the public and in swiftly permitting new charging stations and infrastructure.

“Pollution from cars, trucks and buses makes us sick, hurting our lungs, hearts and more,” said Matt Casale, PIRG Education Fund’s Climate Campaigns director. “To clean the air in our communities, we have to take local action. Local leaders should prioritize electric vehicles to protect our health.”

The EV toolkit outlines the key role local elected officials can play in the transition to electric vehicles. Municipal policies across the country, from building codes in Boise, Idaho to charging station partnerships in Mobile, Alabama, have shown the importance of government action in advancing EV adoption. More cities, towns and counties should look to the initiatives detailed in the report as a guide for promoting EVs in their communities. 

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