Transportation commission chair says Oregon should spend more to entice e-car buyers

“We’re not moving the mode split that quickly on transit, so we’re not reducing congestion, and we’re not reducing carbon… I think there is a chance to see a more dramatic move by people with cars.”

— Bob Van Brocklin, Oregon Transportation Commission chair

Van Brocklin at March 10th meeting.

Late last week the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC), a governor-appointed body that sets policy for the Oregon Department of Transportation, signed off on how to spend $412 million in federal funding via the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Toward the end of a meeting on March 10th, OTC Chair Bob Van Brocklin spoke at length about why he thinks Oregon needs to do more to encourage electric car ownership. The remarks caught my attention because they reveal how one of Oregon’s most influential transportation policymakers feels about the future of mobility and the role cars should play in it.

Given Van Brocklin’s position of influence in Oregon transportation circles, his outlook carries a lot of weight.

Below is a version of Van Brocklin’s comments (emphases mine) from the end of the March 10th OTC meeting that have been edited for clarity and brevity (For context, keep in mind ODOT has committed $100 million to EV charging — $50 million from the IIJA and $50 million from state sources. Van Brocklin is also signaling he wants to spend some of the $82 million set aside in the “carbon reduction” category for electric car subsidies.):

“On EV charging and carbon reduction monies that are directed, this is this is where I’d like to put down a little bit of a flag… we have to transition from today to tomorrow. And specifically in electric vehicles. This is coming. The auto manufacturers are going there, you see it in this bill with EV charging and carbon reduction right in the middle of this bill. That’s $134 million dollars just in our portion of it. Oregon’s ready to go there.

I was talking to a couple of people at DEQ and learned that Oregon is currently one of the top states in the country in converting [to EVs] and this is the moment to listen to Oregonians. My understanding is that our conversion rate on going from fossil fuel to electric vehicles is among the very top states in the country and growing rapidly. And I think we need to be in front of that wave.

Advertisement

I think Oregonians are tuned into two things: One is they like the natural environment of the state. This is not a new thing. Oregonians have been that way forever. And they want to do something personal about it. And the thing they can do that’s personal to them is they can change the kind of car they drive. Now those are the people that can afford cars. I know we have the whole transit, etcetera, whole range of things we need to be doing for people that either don’t have cars or can’t afford them. You need to continue all of that. But I think… we’re not moving the mode split that quickly on transit, so we’re not reducing congestion, and we’re not reducing carbon. I applaud TriMet for transitioning to electric buses, it’s expensive and it’ll take time, but I think there is a chance to see a more dramatic move by people with cars. And I think we need to get behind that.

I think we need to invest the $50 million in EV charging and maybe some of the carbon reduction money or some state money or something else. I would love to see us in for $100 million on electric charging and that won’t even touch what we’re going to need to do. We need to do hundreds of millions in order to cover the state. The other thing I think we need to explore is what we can do to incentivize those transitions… the sooner we’re moving more people who can do it into electric, the sooner we are establishing the first generation of electric cars that will then be the used cars that people who can’t afford the new car can buy. And I think you have a tipping point there. I’m not saying everyone’s gonna own an electric car. But if you go from 5% to 40% You’re gonna make you’re gonna make a bigger impact on carbon than anything else we can do.

Because [emissions are] coming out of the tailpipes of these internal combustion engine cars and trucks. That’s where it’s coming from. So we need to get people doing another choice and people that won’t go on and won’t ride a bus, won’t ride a light rail, won’t get into a vanpool, won’t do any of that stuff. I think they’re showing us this already, they’re willing to change. But this is for me a moment on that directed money for EV charging and carbon reduction to lean heavily into electric vehicles, both on the charging side and on the incentive side and move people off [gas cars] easy. If you want to be in a car, that’s a gas car, I’m not saying anything critical. I’m just saying we need to change the ratio.

I am just trying of follow the trend line. The trend line is it’s coming, the trend line is we’re a leading state, the trend line is we have people that want to [buy an electric car]. And I think we want to we need to facilitate that choice for those who want to go there. In the same way we facilitate choices for people who don’t in terms of other investments we’ve made.

And the driver for me is, we’re sitting here with his $134 million dollars in the directed funds between EV charging and carbon reduction. And I want it to be part of a strong commitment to offering EVs. I almost think of it like a mode split. You could be on transit or you could be in a car; or you could be in transit or you could be in an EV, or you could be on an ICE [internal combustion engine car]. No judgement, just options.

This is a moment and this money is here… So then it’s just how much of the $82 million in carbon reduction we should use to incentivize and maybe beef up the EV charging program statewide.”

You can hear his full comments from the meeting here.

It’s notable how dismissive the chair of the OTC is about the state’s ability to encourage car-drivers to hop on a bus, light rail or other non-driving option, yet he is very enthusiastic about wanting to keep them in single-occupancy cars. A major reason Oregonians drive so much is because all the other options are woefully underfunded while the OTC continues to give ODOT a blank check to expand highways and perpetuate a system based on driving cars.

Instead of using this funding opportunity to go big and start creating a system where fewer people need to use single-occupancy cars, Chair Van Brocklin is saying he wants to further tilt the scales toward driving.

The problem with this approach is illustrated by a graphic I shared on Twitter a few weeks ago: It reminds us how, except for emissions, e-cars share all the social, economic and environmental costs of their fossil fuel brethren:

Electric cars are a piece of what we need to transition to a cleaner energy future, but we should be wary of how big that piece is. If Oregon wants to continue to be seen as an environmental leader and if the OTC wants to remain relevant, they must get over their love-affair with traditional, single-occupancy cars regardless of what is under the hood.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
65 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SD
SD
3 months ago

I guess when he says “We” he might as well mean the OTC is not trying to change the modal split, which is obvious but very frustrating.

dwk
dwk
3 months ago

No, the American public doubles down on driving, Your swipe at progressives is just dumb… Biden is at 40% because gas prices are up a dollar…the public at large screams like a stuck pig over gas prices…it has nothing to do with what progressives want.
You own a car so you are part of the problem also.. can’t have this both ways.
I know you will come back and say that you don’t drive it much..blah blah.

Dwk
Dwk
3 months ago

You own 2 cars but it is progressives that are clueless…
What a statement.. only people who drive like you don’t have carbon emissions, everyone else does…ok…

Matt Meskill
Matt Meskill
3 months ago
Reply to  Dwk

Dwk – you seem to be missing some of the details of this conversation. It’s not a zero sum game. It’s not black and white. You can be very progressive on transportation issues and still own a car (or two). You can also be very progressive on lots of other issues and be completely clueless when it comes to transportation issues.

Dwk
Dwk
3 months ago
Reply to  Matt Meskill

The public is making the decision that they will not stop driving cars, period.
So it is black and white, rising gas prices are going to change the politics of the nation, how do progressives change this?
Brocklin is being practical, there is no other solution except to get more efficient vehicles.
The owner of a bike site has 2 cars, that is the reality.
People will vote for a fascist if they get lower gas prices….
Everybody wants someone else to take mass transit.

Brandon
Brandon
3 months ago
Reply to  Dwk

“the public” will make whatever choice gets them to their destination quickly and inexpensively with what they need. Right now that is by car for most people. If that equation flips, and transit becomes quicker and less expensive than driving, people will switch. As we dump more money into car infrastructure that equation remains tilted toward SOVs, we are incentivizing the less healthy mode of transportation. As long as government continues to tip the scales in favor of SOVs we will not see a change in behavior.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
3 months ago
Reply to  Brandon

Brandon, you are writing about “choice” transit riders, people who are able to choose what mode they will use. Many of the poor have no choice, as well as people who have lost their license to drive, kids, many impaired elders, and those who never learned to drive – the “captured” transit riders, which in many cities is over a quarter of the population.

dwk
dwk
3 months ago
Reply to  Brandon

If you build it they will come right?
Portland has built a lot of bike infrastructure and has less people biking now than 10 years ago..
I know this place hates to hear that but it is true. I just biked Willlams and had the whole bike lane to myself for a mile.
That infrastructure is a waste of space.. not used adequately for the space it takes up…
No one bikes on Broadway and they spent a ton of money on it..

maxD
maxD
2 months ago
Reply to  dwk

dwk- I think you have blinders on about car ownership- the whole country, state and city is built around the car. If you hav e kid or a dog and want to go hiking, there currently is no alternative transportation available. I wish there was, I advocate for it, I vote for it, but it is not here, yet. I think you do have a point about PBOT’s bike infrastructure. It is universally poorly built. and it is all 100% disconnected. I live less than a mile form Williams, but there is not continuous, direct safe connection to it. And the Vancouver bike connection south of TIllamook is bad! stressful, poorly timed lights, unclear/no signamge- you are biking through a freeway interchange and there is no thoghtful, careful design. While there are a few blocks of useful bike lane (shared lane really) on Vancouver/Williams, what is the point if there are not robust, connections to and from? not a rhetorical question, I suspect poor infrastructure may be worse for bike ridership than no infrastructure.

dwk
dwk
2 months ago
Reply to  maxD

You misinterpreted me.. I agree the car is NOT going away and those here who think it is need to get out more..
Go to Socal for instance and tell me that mass transit is going to replace that?
Neither there or in Portland.

soren
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Meskill

It’s not a zero sum game.

It’s interesting that you are making excuses for the decision to purchase a gasoline burning SUV at this moment in time.

Are you a progressive too?

Zachary
Zachary
3 months ago

Oooof. Just painful to read. To his credit: at least he’s honest about his position that it’s SOVs or bust. Now there’s no question (not that there was much before).

Perhaps where advocates can have the most impact is highlighting this to the current crop of governor candidates and express their support if and only if a candidate commits to appointing non-SOV-centric OTC members.

cmh89
cmh89
3 months ago

If anyone in the future is ever confused about why ODOT makes such dangerously terrible decisions, this post will be a nice little thing to link them to. He perfectly explains why the Oregon Department of Cars continues to build and expand freeways at the expense of the people who live around them.

The electric car is great. The electric car is not some kind of environmental panacea. They are built using fossil fuels. They consume natural resources, and they still require huge amounts of fossil fuels to use them and store them.

Governor Brown has been an utter failure in so many ways but her love of single-occupant vehicles is probably one of the longest lasting failures her legacy will have.

Roberta Robles
Roberta Robles
3 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

I think she is one of the best governor’s we’ve ever had, except for her blind eye to transportation. Everybody is taking a pass because they all voted for it in 2016 via HB2017. That’s the elephant in the room and it does no one any good to make it personal. Her area of expertise is public health and it served Oregon well.

She’s not a transportation expert. If she had any skin in the game she would do an actual regional health impact assessment on transport options. I’ve been asking for one for ten years now. All I get is crickets.

***portion of comment deleted by moderator***

J_R
J_R
3 months ago
Reply to  Roberta Robles

Hey, Jonathan. How does this personal attack on the OTC Chair based on his photo match with your rules?

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Roberta Robles

Governor Brown presided over a failure of the unemployment system, the failure of the rent assistance program, a broken foster care system, a poor and unscientific covid response, and many other smaller administrative failures.

Her politics may have been to your liking, but as our state’s chief administrator, I don’t think she’s done a good job at all.

Andrew N
Andrew N
3 months ago

Typically delusional. The trend line is towards the possibility of billions of people starving to death by the end of this century. None of this will matter much then.

Also, does anyone outside Oregon consider the state to be an “environmental leader” anymore? Seems like the perception these days is the opposite. My brother works for ODFW and reminds me that we are troglodytic in our industry-friendliness. He hates the Democrats more than the Republicans because of how insidious their treachery is. Just look at all the clear cutting still happening. The idiotic attempts to expand freeway capacity — I think of the withering criticism of ODOT and PBOT by folks like Janette Sadik-Khan. Depressing.

Mike Quigley
Mike Quigley
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew N

Do you expect the republicans to be any better?

Andrew N
Andrew N
3 months ago
Reply to  Mike Quigley

No. The implication was that the Republicans are even worse – but their boot-licking is at least straightforward.

J_R
J_R
3 months ago

I agree with the OTC Chair. Converting people from driving ICE vehicles to EVs seems like an appropriate plan of action. Moving people to walking, bikes, and transit would be better, but it’s too big a stretch for a majority of people.

Transit ridership has fallen dramatically due to COVID and many office workers’ ability to work from home. Add in the real or perceived dangers of sharing transit vehicles and stations with mentally unbalanced. Remember the MAX murders?

As for cycling, I haven’t seen recent ridership figures from PBOT, but I doubt they are increasing like they did ten years ago. Again, there is the real or perceived hazards of traffic on major roads and even greenways. We know there’s been an lack of enforcement of traffic laws, which in some peoples’ minds makes cycling less safe or desirable. And, of course, there are many riders who’ve forsaken use of MUPs due perceived safety issues.

I don’t think the OTC is “tilting the scales toward driving.” I think they are tilting the scales of driving SOVs toward a less impactful future.

rob s.
rob s.
3 months ago

While I agree with you in principle, Jonathan, I’m also a pragmatist. If I were lord of everything, the country would be all high speed rail, frequent transit service, ubiquitous bike lanes and affordable electric car shares for when you want to throw your gravel bike on the rack and head out into the wilderness for some bike camping. And it would have happened 20 years ago. I would love to see a “new narrative through policy and words and actions that more radically boost the least impactful things” and if you run for office on that platform, I will vote for you. You will also lose, badly. A quick transition to electric SOVs just might be the best we can do in this time and place. Will it be enough? Of course not, but it might buy us some time to do other things.

cmh89
cmh89
3 months ago
Reply to  rob s.

A quick transition to electric SOVs just might be the best we can do in this time and place. Will it be enough? Of course not, but it might buy us some time to do other things.

A “quick” transition to electrics SOVs would necessarily come at the long-term expense of everything else. There are over 250 million vehicles on the road in the US. Reuters says about 1% of those cars are electric. You’d need trillions of dollars of subsidies to gain mass adoption, not only in building and selling the cars, but in building the infrastructure to support them.Even then, we have limitations of time and space where we don’t have the infrastructure in place to actually build that many vehicles.

It’s not a real option. It’s just a scam sold by neo-liberals who want to greenwash carbon-intensive transporation methods.

Of course, Portlanders and Oregonians in general have voted for public transit, walkable cities, and biking facilities. These are not unpopular ideas. Our problem is that ODOT is owned by the freight industry, Metro is owned by real estate developers, and PBOT is run by people who don’t share Portlands values.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

You’d need trillions of dollars of subsidies to gain mass adoption

Or not. We didn’t subsidize folks to transition away from leaded gasoline. Raise the price of gasoline and start phasing it out, and the market will follow. People by and large like electric cars, which will make the transition easier.

soren
2 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

No worries, cmh89. The USA (and Oregon) is failing to electrify “light” vehicles and will almost certainly be among the last nations to stop subsidizing fossil-fuel-burning SUVs/Trucks/(cars):

comment image

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  soren

In “progressive” California, Newsom is proposing what amounts to a Universal Basic Income for cars, and New York is considering suspending gas taxes for the time being.

If that’s the response on the left, I hate to think of what conservatives are cooking up.

soren
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

In “progressive” California, Newsom is proposing what amounts to a Universal Basic Income for cars

And these enormous government subsidies would go predominantly towards use of fossil-fuel-powered SUVs/Trucks (as opposed to “cars”). I find it amazing that the blog owner would admit to buying one of these monstrosities in their widely-read online media.

I have zero interest in critiquing any one’s private life but please, please don’t help sell this culture of fossil-fuel extraction online.

Amit Zinman
3 months ago
Reply to  rob s.

There is nothing prgmatic about transitioning to EVs. As a transition, it only applies to brand new cars, forgetting all about the old cars that people still use. EVs are mostly made of plastic, to counter the weight of their battery. While not filled up with gas, their energy still doesn’t come from the so-called “renewable” energy, as that is totally inadequate to handle current and future energy needs. EVs still have all the downsides of cars, including noise (unless going really slow) and most of the environmental impact, even more if you consider that they need to be MADE and have their own new infrastructure built for them, not to mention the huge mining effort.
The only pragmatic thing (see latest IPCC report) is to decrease our energy use. People can make their own better choices, but without local government support it’s really hard for most people.
If a quick transition to electric cars is the best we can do right now, then we are doomed to blow through 1.5c to 2 and even 2.5c, meaning rising sea levels and frequent weather calamities, making the planet uninhabitable for us and most animals.

soren
2 months ago
Reply to  Amit Zinman

Ironically, electrification of light emission vehicles (e.g. Maus’ SUV) is a primary mitigation pathway for transportation emissions in the recently released AR6 report (as it was for AR5 and AR4).

The only pragmatic thing (see latest IPCC report) is to decrease our energy use

The claim that decreasing our “energy use” is sufficient or “pragmatic” directly contradicts the recently released report. Keeping it in the ground is no where near enough and anyone who claims otherwise is either uninformed or willfully distorting the climate science consensus.

PS
PS
3 months ago
Reply to  rob s.

Maybe an additional dose of pragmatism is the general reality that what we do here without billions of other people doing the same thing doesn’t matter at all. Residents of Oregon put out half the CO2 per capita of residents of Utah and a third of the residents of Texas. So, it really is not all that sensible to enact highly restrictive protocols to driving and mandating transit use whenever we are already a pretty moderate contributor to greenhouse emissions compared to other places, and by all accounts are going to be impacted less aggressively than many other places.

VS
VS
3 months ago

I find your comments and the response to Bob really frustrating. That was a swell graphic you posted from twitter, but you don’t have any data or analysis behind it.

Yesterday we had news of more reporting from the UN IPCC on the need to rapidly decarbonize. We have basically 8 years to cut emissions in half. Could you please share the plan to get vehicle emissions to cut in half in Oregon through increasing transit, walking and biking and please put a price tag on that? Seems to me that to replace driving we’d need to about double the capacity of trimet and then get transit systems to be much more robust in the rest of the state. How much would that cost and how would you fund it? What probability would you put on your plan being effective in actually reducing driving to the level we need to meet the climate challenge?

The mode share for biking in Portland (let alone statewide) is flat for the last decade. The mode share for transit is shrinking. Hell, even in Amsterdam there are still a ton of cars and their emissions levels are above sustainable amounts.

Trimet currently has about a $1.6billion annual budget. My back of the envelope is that your suggestion would require several billion more a year on transit. How would you fund that?

Bob proposes spending a few hundred million on charging stations and on incentives to get people to make a very minor shift that would reap significant reductions at the tailpipe. Can you please share how you can get greater emissions reductions statewide from your plan at the same funding levels Bob throws out?

Me personally, I drive, but not much. Mostly I bike, bus, walk. But I realize I live in a relatively dense and flat part of the Portland east side. Whenever I ride through Happy Valley, Tigard, Bethany, etc I realize just how much built environment is designed around cars and just super unfriendly to switch to transit.

I get it, single occupancy vehicles are bad. But please get some data and practicality not just empty rhetoric.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago

VS wrote: “Seems to me that to replace driving we’d need to about double the capacity of trimet and then get transit systems to be much more robust in the rest of the state.”

Yes, please.

maxD
maxD
2 months ago
Reply to  Fred

And we need transit that is different, transit that is more of an alternative to driving: allows dogs, has space for bike and hauling stuff, goes more places at more times, etc.

Todd/Boulanger
3 months ago

First off, ALL policy makers for Oregon boards and commissions (including OTC Chair Bob Van Brocklin here) should when they publicly speak or write with emphasis should focus in the terminology “electric vehicle” and not just “electric car” as this is more holistic for the mobility toolbox: buses, trucks (Oregonians luv their trucks!), bicycles etc. if he and others are to garner the same effectiveness and affections that may of Oregon’s 1970s political leadership are held to today. Why paint your self into a tighter modal corner?, I ask.

Speaking as a transportation planner, do please take the long view and realize his (and others) narrow focus on fleet electrification will only make our land use and highway financial problems worse than that developed for the 1970 Dodge Dart et al.

Now for Chair Brocklin’s statement, “the sooner we are establishing the first generation of electric cars that will then be the used cars that people who can’t afford the new car can buy.” Oregon is already there…if you shop on Craigslist etc the state of resale has already been there for 4+ years…with the Nissan Leafs being sold for what a low-middle income family typically spends for a solid second hand car often. Do also include support for e-bikes (like e-freight bikes) and other micro mobility as a way to bring more single parents and lower income urban households into fleet electrification.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Todd/Boulanger

I keep wondering: Is a “used” EV even worth anything? A battery that no longer holds a charge is worthless, and a new battery almost = a new car.

Todd/Boulanger
2 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Fred: yes that is a cautionary point. Though there are many first owners of EVs that trade in earlier than you or I might just to get 200% of the range they started with (>300 miles) but that would be great for in town driving.

FDUP
FDUP
3 months ago

How about this? If this is the way we are going, people who drive electric cars are eventually going to act as much like entitled *Richard* heads as any yahoo in a pickup truck or a fancy euro car does today? IMO it will just be another manifestation of car culture. (was going to say more but think I’ll just stop there…)!

Pedro
Pedro
3 months ago

Before we push for electric cars we need to make sure that HOAs, landlords, etc are not allowed to make people park in their garage. You should never park your EV indoors. When they catch on fire, the fires are extremely hard to extinguish. There are also MANY car fires from gasoline powered vehicles.

Write your state legislators. Force them to put this into law, otherwise people’s lives will be at risk, including yours if you live in a multi-family building.

On a side note, I want to buy a cheapo, 20-26 oz traditional plastic water bottle for my bike. No insulation, no interior coating that you can’t scrub, no lights, etc. Anyone know of a place on the west side where you can buy one? Something like this or slightly smaller, but available locally:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0044Q9NX6/ref=ask_ql_qh_dp_hza?th=1

Muchas Gracias

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
3 months ago
Reply to  Pedro

Trion Property Management just purchased the apartment complex I live in (in Beaverton – used to be Brookshire Meadows). Among the most egregious of ass-hattery was the property managers statement to a fellow tenant that “garages are for cars that are used every day”.

I’m just waiting for them to say something about my garage with it’s bikes, trikes and workbench/workstands.

I’ll be moving next spring when my lease is up – but until then they can have my bike parking when they pry it from my cold dead fingers.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

I think that “ass-hattery” is my new favorite word.

Walter
Walter
3 months ago
Reply to  Pedro

I think the risk for spontaneous EV fires is charging inside. I don’t think there’s much risk of fire when just parked inside. But that is a good risk to call out.

Do they put EV charging stations inside garages in multi-family buildings now? They should review the building code.

Brandon
Brandon
3 months ago
Reply to  Pedro
Matt
Matt
3 months ago
Reply to  Pedro

Huh, I thought this was just a general word of caution about charging high-power batteries, but then I stumbled across this article about EV battery fires: https://arstechnica.com/cars/2022/04/multiple-recalls-spark-fed-investigation-of-lgs-electric-car-batteries/

mike owens
mike owens
3 months ago

Keep beating the drum with the wrong POV Jonathan. EVs reduce emissions more than almost any other climate solution. Faster too…one of the most important pieces of this discussion.

Yes, non-car transit is healthy and provides a degree of equity but not much emissions savings. Yes, ODOT and VB are terrible and making bad choices but not the way you think.

PM2.5 are quite minimal from EVs, there is little break dust. And no, they are not much different in weight now.

The majority of vehicle trips are not personal use.

Alternative methods to reduce VMT such as remote work and educating families about care trips…cheap and available today…are nowhere to be found in this “BIKE ONLY” sentiment.

You conveniently leave out the massive amount of emissions to rebuild cities for density and new alternative transit.

75% of which are well outside the 6 mile urban core that really could be low car/no car like the European cities (all 6 of them) that keep getting posted.

You continue to avoid the larger conversation, alienating the larger population and accomplishing way less than would otherwise be possible. I know you’ve read such rebuttals and your choice to ignore the studies and science out there is quite interesting.

Nice spin with the fuckcars graphic too.

Damien
Damien
3 months ago
Reply to  mike owens

Sources, please.

soren
2 months ago
Reply to  Damien

It’s interesting that you demand “sources, please” for the above comment but are, apparently, absolutely fine with some random social media meme from reddit “r/fuckcars”.

One of the many reasons that I’m not a fan “bike [sub]culture” is that many of its strident proponents are epistemologically walled off to any evidence that does not confirm cycling as the best “solution” for climate change[sic], pollution, housing justice, obesity, food sovereignty, cancer, erectile dysfunction, and world peace.

FDUP
FDUP
2 months ago
Reply to  mike owens

Um, good try but in the PNW, EVs run on salmon-killing hydropower. In other parts of the country they run on oil, coal or nuclear. Let’s talk again when the power grid is fully sustainable, otherwise the harms are just being migrated somewhere else, eh?

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  FDUP

Even where EVs are powered by coal fired electricity, they are a big win over gasoline cars from an emissions standpoint. As the grid improves, their advantages will automatically upgrade with no effort by the owner.

Andrew
Andrew
2 months ago
Reply to  FDUP

Is your implication that hydropower isn’t sustainable because of dam projects impact on fish habitats?

The dams have been built already and provide zero emission energy right now. And they provide it in an extremely robust way with natural storage + fast demand matching (really important for power grids). The history of the construction of the dams on the Columbia is deeply sad and absolutely worth learning about in depth, but it would be a big stretch to not call it sustainable electricity.

And nuclear has drawbacks, but is wildly more efficient and sustainable than fossil fuel based power. There are some obvious drawbacks (Uranium mining, nuclear waste proliferation), and they need to be treated with extreme care, as to not repeat Chernobyl or Hansford Reach. But that doesn’t mean they should be discarded altogether.

If you truly want to advocate for a sustainable future, and you are anti-nuclear + anti-already built hydro power I’d ask you want a genuinely sustainable electric grid looks like.

SD
SD
3 months ago

Car will always be more inefficient than walking, bikes and transit.
They require more energy.
They require more space.
They cause more injury.
Cars will always be more expensive.
They are created and promoted to make rich people rich and poor people poor.
In places where cars can be replaced with alternatives like the Portland Metro Area, the goal should be eliminating all necessary car trips.

Metro could lead on this, but they are falling behind.
They shouldn’t be looking toward the status quo for their inspiration.

Solar Power
Solar Power
2 months ago
Reply to  SD

You MIGHT (huge MIGHT), eliminate cars in downtown PDX. NO CHANCE of eliminating them in the Metro Area. None. Zip. Zero.

SD
SD
2 months ago
Reply to  Solar Power

Unnecessary car trips would be good enough.

stephan
stephan
2 months ago

What is missing from the statement in my view us any evidence regarding how much these charging stations will increase EV adoption and thus lower carbon emissions. What is the ROI here in term of reduction in GHG per dollar, and how does it compare with other solutions?

SD
SD
2 months ago
Reply to  stephan

So often, we assume that people leading Metro or the OR legislature’s transportation committee, who presumably have the best access to the most high quality data, are making highly informed decisions. However, when it comes down to it, we find out that they are just behaving like “good ol’ boys and girls” going with their highly biased guts or reflexively choosing the path of least resistance.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
2 months ago
Reply to  SD

Or listening to the folks that make sizeable campaign donations and not to actual data/facts.

Solar Power
Solar Power
2 months ago
Reply to  stephan

Probably no experience with this in the USA, so it is unlikely the evidence exists here, and evidence from Europe is not applicable because we’re too different.

soren
2 months ago

My understanding is that our conversion rate on going from fossil fuel to electric vehicles is among the very top states in the country and growing rapidly

According to a recent report from another branch of Oregon’s government, Oregon is utterly failing to meet it’s own targets for electrification of so-called “light” vehicles (e.g. Jonathan’s ICE SUV):

In Oregon, ZEV registrations at the end of 2020 totaled 33,579 vehicles – below the state goal of 50,000 ZEVs.

https://www.oregon.gov/energy/Data-and-Reports/Documents/2021-Biennial-Zero-Emission-Vehicle-Report.pdf

It’s my base expectation that Oregon and the USA will fail to electrify rapidly and will fail to switch to other more “perfect” but not sufficient modes. I really, really hope that my base expectation is wrong.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Not that more balanced presentation of evidence will stop ICE SUV owners from posting anti-electrification twitter memes but evidence for Tires as a leading cause of particle emission pollution is not so clear cut.

‘Evaluation of Tire Wear Contribution to PM2.5 in Urban Environments’

Currently, very little empirical data is available to characterize tire and road wear particles (TRWP) in the PM2.5 fraction. As such, this study was undertaken to quantify TRWP in PM2.5 at roadside locations in urban centers including London, Tokyo and Los Angeles, where vehicle traffic is an important contributor to ambient air PM. The samples were analyzed using validated chemical markers for tire tread polymer based on a pyrolysis technique. Results indicated that TRWP concentrations in the PM2.5 fraction were low, with averages ranging from < 0.004 to 0.10 μg/m3, representing an average contribution to total PM2.5 of 0.27%. The TRWP levels in PM2.5 were significantly different between the three cities, with significant differences between London and Los Angeles and Tokyo and Los Angeles. There was no significant correlation between TRWP in PM2.5 and traffic count.

https://mdpi-res.com/d_attachment/atmosphere/atmosphere-10-00099/article_deploy/atmosphere-10-00099.pdf

Andrew
Andrew
2 months ago
Reply to  soren

I think you are kind of misrepresenting the conclusions of that study:

TRWP in the ambient air is measurable in both the ambient air PM2.5 and PM10 fractions using chemical markers specific to the polymer portion of the particles. The overall low contribution of TRWP to the PM2.5 that has been reported in the literature was also observed in the measurements made in this study; albeit this dataset indicated much lower absolute percentage contributions. Nevertheless, additional sampling for TRWP in the ambient air would be helpful to establish a more robust dataset
for characterizing the non-exhaust emissions contribution to ambient air particulate from tire wear.

I mean sure, there definitely is not a clear empirical link between Tire Wear and particulate matter in the air.. but that doesn’t mean it never is an issue. In general, this study is way too broad and covers a lot of diverse driving conditions – but does say that the highest particulates came from a tunnel approach in London, and that they hypothesize that braking was a primary driver. (This is for P10)

“The highest levels of TRWP in PM10 were sampled at Brent, North Circular (4.48 μg/m3) and the Blackwall Tunnel Approach (3.24 μg/m3). These TRWP PM10 concentrations were higher than those measured in our previous studies and although the reason is not clear, we hypothesize that with respect to the Blackwall Tunnel Approach, the higher concentrations may be a result of a combination of both very high traffic counts and the amount of braking that occurs at a tunnel approach.”

I think a reasonable follow-up study to this would be to determine particulate matter in the air as a result of braking, and how that affects urban air quality. Although I suppose that would probably just give more fuel to the “every road needs to be free flowing traffic, pave the world” traffic engineer thing.

soren
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

FWIW, this is what I wrote above:

…but evidence for Tires as a leading cause of particle emission pollution is not so clear cut

The conceptual advance of this chemical marker study was that it distinguished between tire particulate materis and other form of PM2.5 (to some extent). Braking very likely contributes to some substantial fraction of PM 2.5 but there are also large industrial sources, as noted by this study. There is also substantial disagreement in the literature about the percentage of PM2.5 that can be attributed to brake wear. Nevertheless, there is agreement in the literature that the bulk of brake particulates come from large trucks, not “light” vehicles like the bloghost’s SUV. In other words, brake particulate pollution is more about The Hidden Environmental Impacts of Urban Overconsumption, than “driving cars”..

CDD
CDD
2 months ago

Without any condescending tones, currently an Electric vehicle is not feasible in case of infrastructure failure. Case in point, I know people in Ukraine. Middle class family from Kiev (friends of friends) had a leased Renault Zoe. When the “troubles” started, they packed lightly + cat in the electric car. Power was out, made it to charge once outside the city and then to the grandparents in the village. Little Zoe was becoming a liability, so 5 people fled the country in an aging soviet Moskwich. You can’t buy a kilo of electricity but you can siphon gas from another car…

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  CDD

I’ll sell you a kilo of electricity.