Lung Association report highlights health and climate costs of petroleum-based transportation and the benefits of shifting to ZEVs
A new report produced by the American Lung Association concludes that over-reliance on petroleum-based fuels for transportation costs the 10 ZEV states in the US (California and nine other states that have adopted the California Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program) an estimated $37 billion in health expenses and climate costs every year—with California costs alone hitting $15 billion.
Of that $37 billion, health costs added up to $24 billion in 2015; the $24 billion represents the monetized sum of harmful emissions responsible for an estimated 220,000 work-loss days, more than 109,000 asthma exacerbations, hundreds of thousands of other respiratory impacts, and 2,580 premature deaths.
The report, Clean Air Future: Health and Climate Benefits of Zero Emission Vehicles, was produced by the American Lung Association in California. Under this report’s “ZEV Future” scenario, 100% of the new car sales and approximately 65% of all cars on the road are assumed to be ZEVs by 2050 in the 10 ZEV States.
Under this scenario, the estimated total health and climate change costs associated with passenger vehicle fleet pollution drops from to $37 billion annually to $15.7 billion by 2050. Annual pollution-related impacts drop by more than 85% due to fewer lost work days caused by pollution-related illnesses, fewer asthma attacks and fewer premature deaths.
For the average driver, every tank of gas burned costs $18.42 in hidden health and climate costs. Relying almost exclusively on oil for transportation hurts our air, our health, and our environment. The answer is to move to passenger vehicles that run on clean, renewable energy, and the Zero Emission Vehicle program that has been adopted by 10 states is key.—Bonnie Holmes-Gen, senior director of Air Quality and Climate Change with the American Lung Association in California
In addition to California, the ZEV states are Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. The report analyzes current and projected emissions while looking at the estimated societal benefits of policies designed to transition to a zero-emission fleet over the coming decades.
To clarify regional costs, the report breaks down the costs of smog, soot and climate pollution caused by passenger vehicles in each of the 10 ZEV states. As of 2015, those costs are:
- California: $15 billion
- New York: $7.9 billion
- New Jersey: $4.6 billion
- Massachusetts: $2.9 billion
- Maryland: $2.6 billion
- Connecticut: $1.4 billion
- Oregon: $1.3 billion
- Maine: $513 million
- Rhode Island: $407 million
- Vermont: $347 million
A separate analysis using the social cost of carbon estimated the annual climate benefits from the transition to cleaner vehicles through 2050.
The health benefits of the ZEV Future scenario include an estimated $13 billion annual savings in 2030 and $21 billion annual savings in 2050 from fewer air pollution (smog and soot) related health impacts, including asthma attacks, lost work days and premature deaths. The analysis finds 1,429 fewer premature deaths due to vehicle pollution in 2030 and 2,246 fewer premature deaths in 2050 under the ZEV Future scenario.
Climate benefits include $5.5 billion annual savings in 2030 and $12.8 billion annual savings in 2050. This value is calculated by applying the social cost of carbon to the tons of greenhouse gas emissions reduced each year, demonstrating avoided climate damage, including harm to human health, agriculture and the environment.
The report makes a number of recommendations to realize the estimated benefits presented:
The California Air Resources Board should strengthen the California ZEV program in 2017 to ensure that 1.5 million ZEVs are on the road in California and more than 3 million are on the road in the 10 ZEV States by 2025 and ensure that 15% of all new cars and light trucks sold will be required to be ZEVs. California must also stay the course on ending the loophole (called the “Travel Provision”) that stalls ZEV sales in states outside of California that have adopted the ZEV program.
Federal and state leaders should support key policies to spur sales of BEVs, PHEVs and FCVs, including:
Extend and increase federal, state and local rebates and tax credits designed to support ZEV deployment and make ZEVs accessible to people of all income levels.
Promote non-monetary incentives such as access to preferred parking and access to highway “carpool” lanes for ZEV technologies.
Support public and private investment, including utility programs, to build and expand vehicle charging and fueling infrastructure for workplaces, public spaces and residences, including multi-unit dwellings.
Support programs to increase zero emission technologies across the transportation sector as a whole, including for buses, trucks, and other heavy-duty vehicles and equipment.
Ensure that the cleanest available technologies benefit all communities, including disadvantaged communities and those most impacted by pollution today.
The US Environmental Protection Agency and states must implement the federal Clean Power Plan and strengthen state-level renewable energy goals and programs to shift ZEV power sources from fossil fuels to non-combustion electricity generation as quickly as possible.
Lung Association chapters working in the ZEV states worked together with the American Lung Association in California in producing the report. Lung Association charters that collaborated include: the American Lung Association in California, the American Lung Association of the Northeast, the American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific, and the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic. This report builds on past research published in the American Lung Association in California’s “The Road to Clean Air” series.