Washington state residents may see more electric vehicles on the roads in the coming years as state lawmakers currently make a push for a new measure, House Bill 1075, to ensure ridesharing companies reduce their emissions starting by 2025.
The bill is sponsored by 11 lawmakers, with Democratic Rep. Liz Berry being the lead sponsor, and it was pre-filed for introduction on Jan. 4. With this measure in place, ridesharing companies, like Uber and Lyft, will have to submit plans by 2024 detailing how they will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Washington state. Companies will then have to report annual data to the state’s Department of Ecology, with the emission reduction plans being implemented by 2025.
House Bill 1075 comes in response to legislation Washington state enacted in 2008 to reduce greenhouse gases. In this legislation, the Department of Ecology is responsible for monitoring and tracking the state’s progress toward the emission limits to under 1,990 levels in 2020. Washington state is currently still above 1,990 levels and car emissions make up more than half of that number.
“Automobiles make up a major chunk of carbon emissions in Washington state. Although we have cleaner vehicles now, the problem is that because of population growth there are more people and that means there’s more cars,” said Benjamin Cheng, a natural science professor at Pierce College.
Although greenhouse gas emissions come from all vehicles on the road, the decision to specifically have this bill tackle the impact added onto emissions from ridesharing companies comes from the large mark they’ve made.
Rides from Uber or Lyft are more environmentally unfriendly than drivers who drive their own vehicles. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a typical rideshare trip is about 70% more polluting than the average trip it replaces.
“When you drive personal vehicles you’re just getting from point A to point B, but you don’t drive around without a purpose,” said Cheng. “Whereas with rideshare drives, they try to drive to places in which they think they can get big fairs, so to make money they keep having to circulate their vehicles around.”
Although the bill doesn’t include any specific demands about what rideshare companies will need to do, electric vehicles have been strongly suggested, this coming as Uber publicly announced their dedication to transitioning to all-electric vehicles by 2040 last September.
Cheng explained how the effectiveness of electric vehicles would rely on vehicle battery life improvement breakthroughs in the upcoming years.
“They’re kind of betting on battery technology improving, which, right now, there hasn’t been a lot of breakthroughs with so that’s the big variable here with the question of if they can improve or not,” said Cheng.
No matter what plans are formed if the bill passes, if companies don’t comply with their new set of regulations they will face fines established under the Clean Air Act adopted in Washington state in 2016.
Cheng suggests that Washington residents who want to help reduce their carbon footprint should limit using rideshares by walking, biking or using public transportation when they can.
House Bill 1075 has currently been placed on its second reading with further action to be announced on the Washington State Legislature webpage.
Interviews and article by @alexisg_news on Twitter.
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