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Va. Senate Approves Bills Boosting Electric Vehicles

Car plugged in
An electric vehicle plugged in to charge. (Photo: Rathaphon Nanthapreecha)

Virginia is set to adopt a package of bills that seek to get more electric vehicles on the road after Senate approval this week.

Electric vehicle legislation is a big ticket item for environmental advocacy groups this year. Federal data shows that transportation alone accounts for nearly half of all of Virginia’s carbon emissions.

One would charge the state regulatory agency with developing policy proposals for electrifying Virginia’s transportation system. Those recommendations aren’t due until after the 2022 General Assembly.

Another proposal would adopt California’s definitions for low-emissions and zero-emissions standards for vehicles. Those definitions would also be delayed, not taking effect until the beginning of 2024.

The Senate also approved a bill that would institute a point-of-sale cash rebate for consumers buying new and used EVs. That would take effect much sooner, at the start of next year, and provides a $2,000 incentive, with an additional $2,500 for Virginians within 300% of the poverty line.

Advocates say these bills cover Virginia’s bases by addressing concerns with supply, demand, cost, infrastructure and more.

Opponents of the bills argue that adopting California’s standards would cede Virginia’s power to the west coast state, but proponents say Virginia would have a say, along with other states that have adopted the standards, and that current federal emissions rules are more restrictive.

The changes made by Senators now have to be approved by the House of Delegates. Then, the bills will either go to a conference committee to be worked out or straight to the governor’s desk for signing.

Patrick Larsen is VPM News' environment and energy reporter, and fill-in host.
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