33 Virginia Businesses, Nonprofits Urge State Legislators to Prioritize Transportation Electrification in 2021 General Assembly

December 22, 2020

The Honorable Eileen Filler-Corn
The Honorable Charniele Herring
The Honorable Todd Gilbert
The Honorable Dick Saslaw
The Honorable Louise Lucas
The Honorable Tommy Norment, Jr.

Re: Support for Transportation Electrification Legislation

Dear Virginia General Assembly Leadership,

We are writing to encourage you and your colleagues to make transportation electrification a top priority for the Commonwealth during the 2021 General Assembly. Transportation is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Virginia, making up 48% of our carbon dioxide emissions. To address this, Virginia must transform its transportation sector while also electrifying the vehicles on the road. Supporting the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) can help to ease this transition and is an important component of our evolving transportation system. EVs provide major benefits for consumers, the local economy, energy independence, public health, and the environment. With your leadership, we can accelerate our progress into an electric mobility future.

This year, Virginia faced recurrent flooding, wildfires raged throughout the West Coast, and countless communities struggled to adapt as a historic number of hurricanes bombarded their shores. The impacts of climate change are already here, causing real, tangible harm and our response must match the severity of the challenge. Virginia recently took significant strides to reduce emissions from the power sector by passing the Virginia Clean Economy Act and joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Now it is time to build on this progress and address emissions from the transportation sector.

As we work to tackle transportation-related emissions, we must remember that it is a challenge we will have to fight on multiple fronts. Addressing transport-related emissions in the Commonwealth will require us to rethink how we design our communities, what our transit and rail services looks like, and the type of vehicles we drive. Given the breadth of this undertaking, we know that state-level leadership will be more important than ever. We commit to working toward thoughtful, deliberate, and equitable solutions as we tackle transportation-related emissions, and we ask you to join us in this work.

Demand for EVs already exists in the Commonwealth, but Virginia is lacking in pro-EV policies. According to a recent report,1 75 percent of Virginians think it’s important for Virginia to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, and 71 percent have a favorable view of EVs. This same report shows that over half of Virginians are likely to consider an EV for their next car.

Nearly every auto manufacturer has introduced one or more plug-in electric models, and Virginians deserve access to these vehicles. While many other states have taken steps to support a robust EV market, Virginia has yet to do so. The upcoming 2021 General Assembly session presents a critical window of opportunity to advance the benefits of transportation electrification in Virginia, helping the Commonwealth reap numerous economic, health, and climate benefits associated with the transition to EVs.

Even when charged using Virginia’s current electricity generation mix – which includes natural gas, coal, nuclear, and renewables – an EV averages 70 percent less carbon dioxide emissions compared to a gas powered vehicle. As the Commonwealth works to modernize our grid and move towards 100 percent clean energy sources in accordance with the Virginia Clean Economy Act, the EVs on our roads will get cleaner, too. Powering EVs with 100 percent clean energy helps to completely eliminate these emissions, but EV benefits span far beyond the environment.

Driving an EV instead of a gas-powered car can save consumers thousands of dollars in fuel costs over the life of the vehicle. Virginians spend $25 million dollars per day on imported petroleum, and these savings on fuel purchases give consumers more money to spend in local economies while decreasing our dependence on foreign and out of state oil. Transportation electrification also supports public health. Air pollution from cars, trucks, and buses is linked to asthma attacks, heart attacks, other health complications, along with premature deaths. Furthermore, communities of color in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic breathe 66 percent more air pollution from vehicles than white residents on average. Since EVs have little or no conventional tailpipe emissions, they can be a key component to improving air quality, reducing transportation-related emissions health burden, and addressing disproportionate impacts.

This legislative session we ask that you join us in supporting transportation electrification and solidify Virginia’s role as a leader on climate policy in the United States.


Apex Clean Energy Lynnhaven River NOW
Center for Sustainable Communities MOM’s Organic Market
Ceres Mothers Out Front
Charlottesville Renewable Energy Alliance Mothers Out Front Virginia
Chesapeake Climate Action Network NRDC
Community Climate Collaborative Rockbridge Area Conservation Council
Drive Electric RVA Sierra Club Great Falls Group
Electric Vehicle Association of Washington DC Sierra Club Virginia Chapter
Electrify NoVA Sigora
Environment Virginia Solar United Neighbors
EVHybridNoire Southern Environmental Law Center
Fermata Energy The Greater Prince William Climate Action Network
Generation180 Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action
Greater Prince William Climate Action Network Virginia Conservation Network
Green New Deal Virginia Virginia League of Conservation Voters
GRID Alternatives Virginia Organizing
Indivisible Virginia