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EV rebates wont move the needle significantly’ on carbon emissions


(The Center Square) – Last month, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee announced a $50 million electric vehicle rebate program through the state Department of Commerce to be implemented later this year and early next year allowing qualifying residents to get subsidies for leasing or purchasing an EV.

The EV rebate program is part of a larger effort to electrify the transportation sector in the state in preparation for a 2030 gasoline vehicle sale and registration ban, all of which is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The $50 million program is expected to subsidize the lease of 1,750 to 3,500 EVs and the sale of 3,400 to 7,000. The program would have the buyer immediately receive a discount upon purchase, while the EV dealer would be reimbursed by a contractor, who would then be reimbursed by the Department of Commerce.

At a Thursday meeting of the Washington State Transportation Commission, Transportation Electrification Policy Lead Steven Hershkowitz told the commission “this program in and of itself is not going to move the needle significantly on climate emissions. But, this is the way for the state to push forward in accessibility and access to the program while still reducing emissions to some extent.”

According to Commerce, the program is estimated to reduce carbon emissions by between 18,800-24,000 metric tons. That makes up 0.06% of the total emissions emitted by the transportation sector as of 2019, which is the most recent data available through the state Department of Ecology. According to Ecology, the transportation sector that generated emitted 40.3 million metric tons of carbon.

If applied to the 2019 statewide total emissions of 102.1 million, the EV rebate program would reduce emissions by 0.02%.

In an email to The Center Square, Communications Manager Caroline Halter wrote that Ecology publishes the statewide greenhouse gas inventory every two years, with the next one to be published by the end of this year and include data up to 2021. She noted that “Over time, we will start to see the effects of the CCA and other climate policies show up in this dataset.”

She also noted that the agency relies on federal data for its inventory, but expects that to change after 2024 as they rely more on state-based data.