Officials hope electric vehicles can drive an economic and environmental spark in Iowa.
State officials gathered Thursday to talk about the ways Iowa can change its infrastructure to combat climate change and its devastating consequences. Electric vehicles were the key to the conversation.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, State Rep. Marti Anderson, Des Moines City Councilmember Josh Mandelbaum, Dr. Maureen McCue and Karin Stein of Moms’ Clean Air Force all joined a press conference urging more action and support to make that move.
Already, the state invests significantly in wind energy, leading the country. Last year, 60 percent of Iowa’s energy came from wind turbines.
Electric vehicles and the infrastructure to support them are the next step in Iowa’s efforts, Miller said.
“Iowa has done such a great job in wind energy, one of the key renewables,” he said. “As we make progress in dealing with generation of electricity, it becomes more and more important to make huge progress in the area of transportation.”
Transportation is the largest source of environmental pollution in the nation, so investments in manufacturing electric vehicles and in building the infrastructure to support them—mainly, charging stations—would go a long way to reduce the amount of air pollution and carbon dioxide.
McCue said four main areas have to be addressed on the federal and local levels to make sure the efforts are complementary and effective. They include strict standards for vehicles and heavy trucks, an expanded market for electric vehicles and more investment in charging stations to make the vehicles broadly usable, even for rural areas.
At the same time, expanding the use of electric vehicles in Iowa adds more jobs to the economy.
“An investment in building charging stations and electricity grid updates will create opportunities to retool Iowa’s lost manufacturing centers and create thousands of construction and manufacturing jobs. This is a win-win for all Iowans,” Anderson said.
Electric vehicles also save money in refueling costs and maintenance. And improved air quality leads to cleaner air for everyone.
Des Moines Area Regional Transit (DART) has a pilot program of seven electric buses on the highest-traffic route in the city. Mandelbaum said those buses have already made the air cleaner and saved the city money.
“We have the blueprint, now we need to build on this model across Iowa,” he said.
Mandelbaum said by the end of the year, Des Moines will have 18 electric vehicles in its city fleet. He and others expect that to do even more to save money and increase public health.
“Whether we’re talking about air quality or extreme weather, there is a direct link between our transportation infrastructure and the health of our constituents,” Anderson said. “Transitioning to electric vehicles, including buses, is not just about protecting the environment, but about protecting the people of our state.”
by Nikoel Hytrek