Advocates: Governor Newsom’s zero-emissions plan ignores blacks and working class
Manny Otiko | California Black Media
(CBM) – California stands as a leader among states in bringing about progressive policy change in the United States. And one of its most ambitious policies is to ban the sale of all gas-powered vehicles in the state by 2035.
But some African-American leaders worry that while the governor has good intentions, his plan doesn’t take into consideration how the resulting policy might affect people living in working-class and middle-class communities. .
Salena Pryor, president of the Black Small Business Association of California and CEO of Pryor Consulting, says “the devil is in the details.”
Pryor said most black residents of communities across the state aren’t sold to the program, primarily because of the expected costs.
“Barriers to access, incentives, rebates, lack of charging stations in communities of color, and lack of information about policies and programs — these things, coupled with the high cost of electric vehicles, will leave blacks behind,” Pryor said.
She says if the governor wants black people to join this program, he needs to organize more outreach programs — especially through trusted organizations.
“People listen to people who are like them,” she said.
Pryor cites the example of the state’s electric vehicle program, recommending that it be promoted to African Americans through black media, religious and civic leaders, and groups like the NAACP.
Newsom has committed $10 billion to California’s zero-emission vehicle program.
Critics like Pryor are curious how the switch to clean-energy vehicles will affect people
who live in urban communities. According to Edmunds.com, a car shopping site, the cheapest electric vehicle (EV) is the Nissan Leaf, which costs around $30,000. That’s still out of most working-class people’s price range, Pryor says.
According to a 2021 report from the Fuel Institute, titled “EV Consumer Behavior”, the average driver of an electric vehicle is a middle-class white male.
“The average electric vehicle owner continues to be male, ages 40 to 55, with an annual household income of more than $100,000,” the report said.
A 2017 Morgan State University study of electric vehicle drivers showed that 75% were white and only 13% were black.
Another problem, critics say, is that increased use of electric vehicles will mean greater demand for electric power. According to a Pacific Research Institute report, “Zapped: How California’s Punishing Energy Agenda Hurts the Working Class,” California families already spend an average of $1,400 on electricity.
“California’s current approach to energy regulation places much heavier financial burdens on low-income families, especially families living in the Central Valley, Inland Empire and eastern regions of the State. In too many cases,
high costs plunge too many families into the scourge of fuel poverty,” the report says.
The report blamed the high cost of energy in California on energy regulations.
The Pacific Research Institute also suggests that nuclear power is a cheaper source. However, nuclear energy carries its own political and environmental risks.
“Nuclear power is another market-tested technology that can significantly reduce emissions while ensuring Californians have access to safe, affordable, and reliable electricity. As noted by the International Atomic Energy Agency ( IAEA), “nuclear
Electricity is the second largest low-carbon energy source used today to generate electricity, after hydropower,” the report states.
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