May 6, 2021

Greening California Starts With Motor Vehicles

Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it would restore California’s right to set its own, more stringent air quality regulations for motor vehicles. The announcement is a huge win not only for California but also for other states looking to follow its lead in cleaning up one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the nation: the transportation sector, reports Sierra Magazine.

“Transportation is a huge beast of a problem,” Kate Konschnik, director of the Nicholas Institute's Climate and Energy Program, told Sierra Magazine. “In many states, it’s the leading source of greenhouse emissions and a huge contributor of ground-level ozone and particulate matter. We need to tackle this sector, not only if we want to achieve economy-wide greenhouse gas goals, but if we want to improve air quality, particularly in urban areas and along heavy transportation corridors—which, by the way, are often where historically burdened communities of color are located. This is a climate issue; it’s a public health issue; and it’s an environmental justice issue.”

During the interview, Konschnik discussed the need to have a cleaner power grid to go with increased electric vehicle use. A 2019 policy brief from the Nicholas Institute models power sector policies that can be paired with electric vehicle adoption to fully realize their benefits.