On EV tour Lawmakers say, IRA incentives for Energize Pittsburgh, and EV adoption, will make the city a model for others to follow

Along with strong EPA clean car standards, PA’s transition to EVs will improve health, and help ensure energy security

June 20, 2024
Contact: Ramona Cornell du Houx
Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA)
Cell: 207.319.4727

PITTSBURG, PA. During the Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) United for Health, and Energy Security Electric Vehicle Tour that stopped in Pittsburgh, PA the non-profit organization highlighted Energize Pittsburgh, made possible with incentives from the IRA, and the city’s  Climate Action Plan 3.0  vehicle emissions goals. After the press conference there were EV demonstrations on this educational tour.

Energize Pittsburgh is a pilot program designed to help low-to-moderate income, single-parent homeowners, in Extreme Need and High Need neighborhoods spend less household income on utilities while improving homeowner equity. The goal is to reduce the energy burden of these households in Pittsburgh that face high climate vulnerability. The IRA incentives provide an opportunity for Pittsburgh to access the $4 billion available over the next decade.

Pittsburgh’s goal of reducing emissions 50 percent by 2030 is the same target that President Biden set for the entire country.

“While the City has effectively reduced emissions from commercial buildings. We have noticed an emissions increase in four sectors: residential energy, industrial energy, transportation and waste,” said Jake Pawlak, Pittsburgh Deputy Mayor & Director of the Office of Management and Budget. “The Energize Pittsburgh Initiative is expected to maximize the impact of the IRA funds by layering electrification incentives with weatherization, installation of solar panels, and the removal of indoor toxins. As well as providing the tools and resources people need to determine eligibility for grants, loans and other local, state, and federal support.”

The transportation sector accounts for approximately 45 percent of NOx emissions in the U.S.; tailpipe pollution contains toxic and harmful compounds that pollute air quality and harm public health. EVs have zero emissions.

“Electrification is our opportunity to protect public health, bring prosperity, and help ensure our energy security while we combat the climate crisis. As we electrify the transportation sector and our buildings, more electricity generated by renewables will feed our grid on our road to 100 percent clean energy, said Alex Cornell du Houx, former Maine State Representative, Marine combat veteran, and President of EOPA. “Even though Pennsylvania is considered a fossil fuel energy producer state, the city of Pittsburgh has positioned itself with unique programs to become the epicenter of a clean energy economy with Inflation Reduction Act incentives. Thousands of jobs for Justice40 communities will be created. Businesses and commerce will grow, and residents will benefit from neighborhood homes that are no longer burdened by fossil fuel energy that negatively impacts our health. Energize Pittsburgh, along with EV adoption, is making Pittsburgh a model for other communities to follow.”

In the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air Report, Allegheny County was graded with a D, the only PA County to receive this debilitating grade of particle pollution.

“The fossil fuel industry has neglected public health across the state, and held back clean energy production for too long. With Inflation Reduction Act climate provisions and the Environmental Protection Agency’s new strong clean vehicle standards Justice40 communities will finally have access to clean air. Pittsburgh is a shining example of how a city can utilize federal incentives to lift up everyone for a brighter future, while combating the climate crisis,” said Sara Inamorato, Allegheny County Executive, Former State Representative.

The state, nation and world will be positively impacted by the transition to EVs.

As the new EPA standards reach peak strength, they will achieve a 58 to 70 percent reduction in NOx emissions from MDVs compared to the current standard. Exposure to this air pollution can lead to health problems including increased risk of asthma attacks, strokes, heart attacks, cancer, and premature deaths. The EPA’s new vehicle emissions standards are critical as a bridge on the road to a zero emissions future

“We at EOPA are grateful for Pittsburgh having recognized and taken action to protect environmental justice communities with unique programs and IRA incentives. On a daily basis the invisible toxic particulates from gas emissions invade the lungs of unsuspecting people just by breathing air. Tragically, Justice40 communities suffer disproportionately the most from these pollutants that can lead to lung and cardiovascular disease, and premature death,” said Christian Brock, Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) Chief Executive Officer, Air Force veteran. “Lower tailpipe emissions are key as we transition to zero-emission vehicles. They will protect millions who can’t avoid breathing in dirty emissions. In the process, the EPA’s new vehicle standards with more EVs manufactured in the U.S. will spur job creation, economic growth, and family cost savings. Importantly, new EPA standards promote American energy security, averting 14 billion barrels of oil imports by 2055 through reduced gasoline consumption.”

The goal of President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative is to ensure 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal climate, clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, and other investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution. All of the funds awarded through certain IRA programs, like Solar for All program will be invested in these communities.

“The severe effects of the climate crisis only exacerbate public health problems caused by toxic fossil fuel air pollution, especially in environmental justice communities that are next to highways or near manufacturing and shipping facilities,” said Councilmember Khari Mosley, Pittsburgh District 9. “Electrification is our opportunity to reverse this course, and help ensure our energy security as we address the climate emergency. Pittsburgh is moving our state in the right direction on the road to a clean energy economy where environmental justice can be realized.”

With the successful passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, production and sales of EVs have exponentially increased. For consumers the IRA EV incentives are up to $7,500. Pennsylvania promotes clean vehicle adoption by offering a $2,000 to $3,000 EV rebate, depending on family income.

The IRA incentives that are making Energize Pittsburgh possible, provide an opportunity for the city to access the $4 billion available over the next decade. According to data collected in an analysis conducted by Bloomberg, 53 percent of households in Pittsburgh’s predominantly Black communities would benefit from the addition of solar panels. Furthermore, many older homes in Pittsburgh would benefit from proper weatherization and appliance updates.

“Especially in Justice40 communities, Energize Pittsburgh has the potential to lower residents’ energy bills and improve the air quality in homes and neighborhoods. It will complement other environmental initiatives to reduce the region’s carbon footprint, stimulate economic growth, and facilitate the widespread adoption of EVs,” said Councilperson Erika Strassburger, Pittsburgh District 8. “Pittsburgh can—and will—serve as an example of how other cities can seize a clean energy future that drives prosperity for all.”

The Keystone State has seen a dramatic influx in EV purchases. In December of 2023, there were 47,440 registered EVs in the state, up from 4,400 in 2017. In 2022, registered EVs had about an 82 percent increase from 2021. EVs are essential to Pittsburgh’s 2030 100 percent fossil fuel free fleet.

In 2023, a record 1.2 million EVs were bought in the United States, with sales consistently greater each month than in the prior two years. EV interest will continue to grow as consumers gain more familiarity with them, and fast-charging public infrastructure is built out.

“As we transition to zero emission cars we will need the strong EPA clean vehicle standards as a bridge. I implore Congress to uphold these standards for the health of millions. Asthma is such an insidious disease that tends to disproportionately affect the poor and children, and every step we take to improve the quality of air we breathe will reduce the burden on our healthcare system and improve the lives of millions of Americans,” said Commissioner Martin Miller, West Norriton Township, EOPA National Leadership Council member.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation was awarded $34 million in federal grants for businesses to build fast-charging stations for EVs in 35 counties, including Allegheny, as part of a Federal Highway Administration program to spur development of EV infrastructure.

Currently, there are 130,000 EV charging stations across the country, and The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides funds for 500,000 more to be installed. There are also incentives in the IRA for home plug in ports. Additionally, companies are providing innovative solutions so that every EV owner can feel safe knowing their EV will find a charging source.

“Six months ago, Pennsylvania was one of the first states in the country to complete a NEVI-funded charging location. As the state looks to continue its rapid expansion of its alternative fuels corridor, Lynkwell is prepared to partner with local authorities and stakeholders to provide a seamless integration and deployment of EV charging infrastructure,” said Kate Kruk, former NY school board member, director of partnership and engagement for Livingston Energy Group, a Lynkwell company.

Livingston Energy Group, a Lynkwell company, is a full deployment electric vehicle charging solutions provider that has close to 10,000 charging stations active and in development on its cloud-based software platform, which hosts dozens of EV charging networks.

Previously the tour made stops in New York. New Jersey and Philadelphia. The tour continues on to Georgia.

The tour is led by Elected Officials to Protect America. EOPA partners for the tour include Climate Action Campaign, National Electric Vehicle Association, Alliance for Clean Energy New York, Charge EVC, and the Lightning Clubs of America. The Tour is made possible by the Environmental Defense Fund, PSG&E, Zeem, and Lynkwell.

Elected Officials to Protect America is a network of current and former elected officials who care deeply about protecting the planet and people. EOPA is committed to solving the climate crisis, ensuring environmental justice, and protecting our lands, waters, and democracy. EOPA educates through value-based storytelling, trains lawmakers, and connects elected officials to inspire strong environmental leadership.