In summary

California can continue to lead in the transportation energy markets of the future by making investments that stimulate green transportation.

By John Boesel, Special to CalMatters

John Boesel is president and CEO of CALSTART, a national nonprofit focused on clean transportation, [email protected]

California may be down but it’s far from out, thanks in large part to the way Gov. Gavin Newsom has managed the state through the COVID-19 crisis. While state leaders grapple with immediate intervention and budgeting measures, innovators at the forefront of clean transportation technologies stand by to continue the important fight for our economy and the environment.

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Right now, the Legislature, governor and the task force co-led by Tom Steyer have the chance to boost the economy in this area with investments and programs that will help California continue to lead in the transportation energy markets of the future. Making investments that stimulate continued decarbonization through clean, green transportation is imperative.

Equally important right here in California, state leaders have an opportunity to encourage vehicle and transportation solutions that will help move people, goods and services efficiently and electrically.

Even amid the global pandemic, actions big and small matter, especially if they help us come out of the current health crisis in a way that addresses the climate crisis. We can and should work hard to meet California’s ambitious emissions reduction goals for a better, cleaner future while addressing a recession. Recovery efforts need to include clean transportation.

Respiratory issues have become front and center of this global health emergency, and pollution has exacerbated the effects. But stay-at-home orders have received some of the credit for the cleaner air we were breathing up and down the coast this spring. As drivers start to return to our roads and highways, imagine the continued progress we would make toward a clean air reality if more were done to give people added access to the best and highest-impact vehicles with incentive programs as we come out of this crisis.

CALSTART has successfully managed a variety of incentive programs for California, Illinois and New York state. And in every case, whether car, truck or bus, the demand for these clean vehicles has outpaced available funds. Programs like rebates can encourage electric vehicle sales for both heavy- and light-duty vehicles like cars and SUVs, resulting in more clean vehicles on the road to provide a win-win for consumers, innovators and our economy. The state can make it happen with smart use of existing programs.

We need legislators working on economic recovery efforts to help get more people into long-range electric vehicles with proven emissions benefits. This means directing scarce resources to the best vehicles available through simple incentives like rebate offers for the best performing vehicles. We need all Californians – from families to businesses to local governments – to have access to the very best, most capable vehicles America makes. It makes both environmental and economic sense.

People will need a long-range view and ways to save, and this is one tangible way. We have the ingenuity and technology to come together and co-create a decarbonized future as well as a healthy one if lawmakers and regulators embrace this mindset and open transportation options to all.

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