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Electric vehicles could save lives and money in Connecticut and New York, study finds

electric car charging
Kindel Media

Transitioning to electric vehicles across the United States has the potential to save thousands of lives, according to the American Lung Association. The group released a report on Wednesday detailing the public health and financial benefits of using zero-emission vehicles.

According to the report, replacing fossil fuels on the road would prevent:

  • 1,250 deaths in Connecticut, and 6,200 in New York;
  • 27,400 asthma attacks in Connecticut, and 159,000 in New York;
  • 43,000 lost workdays in Connecticut, and 825,000 in New York. 

The switch would generate:

  • $68.2 billion in public health benefits in New York;
  • $13.7 billion in public health benefits in Connecticut;
  • $1.2 trillion in public health benefits nationwide.

Ruth Canovi, director of advocacy for American Lung Association in Connecticut, said the public health aspect of pollution is often overlooked, as people instead focus on climate change.

“For a long time, people have framed the conversation around climate change and the environment space,” Canovi said. “But it really is a very big, real public health issue that we need to look at and do our best to ensure we have clean air to breathe.”

The transportation sector is a leading contributor to poor air quality and climate change, Canovi said. Transportation is responsible for about 40% of regional carbon emissions.

Connecticut's General Assembly is considering two bills, proposed by Democrats, to tighten fuel standards for heavy-duty vehicles and allow customers to buy electric vehicles directly from car manufacturers.

Senate Bill 4, An Act Concerning The Connecticut Clean Air Act, would make purchasing electric vehicles cheaper for Americans. House Bill 5039, An Act Concerning Medium And Heavy-Duty Emission Standards, would impose higher regulations on vehicles that use large amounts of fossil fuels.

Similar to Connecticut, New York is considering legislation to move toward environmentally friendly transportation. Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul proposed that the state electrify all of its school buses by 2035, a proposal that has been supported by some New York Democrats.

Trevor Summerfield, the American Lung Association’s director of advocacy for New York, Massachusetts and Vermont, said while the road ahead may be difficult, it is important to make the switch to electric vehicles.

“It is definitely an ambitious goal, but it is an achievable one,” Summerfield said.

The New York-Newark metro area was ranked second on the list of metro areas that would benefit most from the transition. This is one of the reasons, Summerfield said, it is important for the switch to be made soon.

“We need our state leaders to act to implement equitable policies and invest in the transition to healthy air today,” Summerfield said. “This is an urgent health issue for millions of people in the United States.”

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.