Drivers urged to consider hybrids

House-passed climate bill provides tax credits as incentives

August 13, 2022

The local, state and federal government are trying to make it easier for people to transition to zero-emission vehicles, and electric vehicles aren’t the only or necessarily the best option for all cases.

On Friday, the House of Representatives passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which focuses on addressing health care costs, taxes and the climate crisis. The bill is a whittled-down version of what was initially proposed in the president’s agenda, but North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) said there are still incentives and policy changes in the legislation that could create a real turning point in creating a clean energy economy.

“This is by far the biggest step the U.S. has ever taken to combat climate change, but I know that this is by no means a ‘mission accomplished’ moment,” Huffman said in a statement. “There are still a lot of priorities that were left on the cutting room floor that I will keep advocating for, and we must get off the fossil fuel roller coaster that has been driving inflation and killing our planet once and for all.”

A 2015 inventory of greenhouse gas emissions in Humboldt County found the largest contributor to the county’s emissions was transportation, accounting for about 53.2% of total emissions. The county has been working on reducing those emissions in a variety of ways, including developing new houses that are already in populated areas to reduce the number of miles people have to travel in vehicles to go to work or to shop.

That may not be possible in areas of the county that are more rural, prompting the need for the type of zero-emission vehicles consumers are incentivized to buy through the Inflation Reduction Act.

One of the areas of the legislation that could have used improvement is the electric vehicle tax credit, Huffman said.

The bill includes a new tax credit worth up to $4,000 for buying used all-electric and hybrid plug-in vehicles and extends a tax credit worth up to $7,500 for new vehicles of that kind through 2032. For the latter, however, an increasing percentage of the raw materials would need to be sourced domestically over time for the car to qualify for the credit.

“I would like to fine-tune that because we do want to see all of this domestic manufacturing and responsibly sourcing of raw materials, but to have that phase in immediately instead of over the next several years runs the risk that the tax credit won’t be available to consumers for several more years,” Huffman told The Times-Standard earlier this week. “And I would like to see it help spur EV sales immediately.”

Matthew Marshall, executive director of the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, said there are already a lot of local incentives for people to buy electric vehicles and more broadly electrify their homes. The county has also been expanding its electric vehicle charging stations, but Marshall said those aren’t as significant in helping people transition to electric vehicles since the majority of charging takes place at home.

“There are also incentives for vehicle manufacturers to transition to building electric vehicles, helping make the vehicles themselves more affordable,” Marshall said, “both through those upstream funding mechanisms for manufacturers as well as the tax credits for the people buying the vehicles.”

By:  Sonia Waraich
Source: Eureka Times Standard