By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
State’s clean car rebate program update proposed
Cal seal

The small percentage of California drivers who put a lot of miles on their aging, high-polluting, gas-powered cars could be pivotal in helping the state cut its greenhouse gas emissions. Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) has introduced AB 2401, which targets this group of “superusers” and incentivizes their transition to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). The bill modernizes California’s Clean Cars 4 All (CC4A) program by expanding it statewide, making higher rebates available specifically to lower income, high-mileage drivers with older, high-polluting vehicles.

“Clean car rebates have previously gone to drivers who typically don’t need the financial help. It’s time to focus on working families who cannot afford to make the switch. This will bring fairness and equity to the program, while also accelerating the environmental benefits for the state,” said Ting.

California’s transportation sector accounts for about half of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. The CC4A program has helped residents in a handful of air districts buy clean cars, regardless of household income. While these rebates were a key driver in helping the state transition to ZEVs, they mostly went to higher income drivers.

“For too long, redlining, disinvestment, and deliberate government policies relegated people of color to areas surrounded by busy roads, freeways, ports, and areas filled with high rates of toxic emissions. These communities would benefit the most from switching to zero-emissions vehicles,” said Alvaro Sanchez, Vice President of Policy at The Greenlining Institute. “This bill addresses barriers head on, putting California on a path towards cleaner air and environmental justice for communities of color.”

Recent studies support the prioritization outlined in AB 2401. The Greenlining Institute and the Union of Concerned Scientists released research that indicates older cars, built before 2004, make up less than 20 percent of cars, SUVs, and pickups in California, but are responsible for over 70 percent of the smog-forming nitrogen oxides pollution from passenger vehicles. Additionally, a recent Coltura report found that just 9 percent of all private light-duty drivers consume a third of the state’s gasoline. Coltura’s research shows that on average, these gasoline superusers would save $589 a month on fuel alone by switching to an EV.

“Our research shows that older gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles significantly contribute to air and climate pollution, yet it can be difficult for low-income drivers to replace their aging cars with cleaner models that are more affordable to operate,” said David Reichmuth, senior engineer in the Clean Transportation Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “We need this bill to encourage low-income Californians to make the switch to more reliable and less polluting cars, while improving air quality, particularly in disadvantaged communities.”

Hearings on AB 2401 are expected to begin this spring.