Electric vehicles at charging station
Electric vehicles lined up at an Ocean Beach charging station. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Rep. Mike Levin introduced legislation in the House of Representatives Wednesday that would fully transition the United States to zero-emission vehicles by 2040.

The Zero-Emission Vehicles Act of 2019 was simultaneously introduced in the Senate by Oregon lawmaker Jeff Merkley.

Levin, who was an environmental lawyer before running for Congress, said the legislation would position the United States to lead the world in vehicle innovation while combating climate change.

“The climate crisis is a defining issue of our time, and we must pursue bold measures commensurate with the enormous challenge we face,” said Levin, who represents the 49th District in north coastal San Diego and south Orange counties.

“We can combat climate change aggressively, improve public health, and lead the world in manufacturing innovative technology by embracing zero-emissions vehicles at the same time. I am proud to lead ambitious legislation that will accomplish all of those critical goals,” he said.

The bill would set a federal standard to boost the market for battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. The standard would require that by 2030, 50% of sales for new passenger vehicles are zero-emission vehicles, and ramp up 5% each year to 100% by 2040. The standard would only apply to the sale of new cars.

Ten states, including California, currently require that a certain percentage of new vehicles be zero-emission types. Sponsors of the new legislation said state commitments are helpful, but a federal policy is needed to ensure the entire country benefits.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.