Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is calling for a comprehensive statewide plan for electric vehicles (EVs), as well as new, ambitious goals to meet electric power needs with clean energy.
Healey testified at a hearing last Thursday before the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on its use of $75 million in mitigation funds that the AG’s office helped secure for Massachusetts as part of the multibillion-dollar settlement with Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi following their diesel-emissions cheating scandal.
“Massachusetts can lead the nation with a comprehensive plan for electric vehicles that will transform how we move around,” Healey said. “This is a critical moment to invest in electric vehicles and grow our clean energy economy.”
Massachusetts is receiving the environmental mitigation funds to reduce air pollution as part of a series of state and federal settlements totaling $15 billion with Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche for their marketing, selling and leasing of diesel vehicles equipped with illegal and undisclosed software that cheated emission tests, explains a press release from the AG’s office. These settlements included multistate settlements led by Healey that required Volkswagen to pay more than $720 million for violating state consumer protection and environmental laws. Massachusetts received more than $40 million of those settlements, including the largest-ever civil environmental penalty recovered by the state, according to the AG’s office.
In her testimony before the DEP, AG Healey laid out the office’s position on three major topics:
Use VW Mitigation Trust Dollars as a Catalyst for Future Investment
- Use funds as a catalyst to advance EV infrastructure (consistent with a comprehensive state plan).
- Work with mayors; state environmental, energy and transportation agencies; utilities; and regional transit officials to discuss how to leverage the funds to build out needed EV infrastructure.
- Continue to work with the DEP to ensure optimal priorities for funds.
Commitment to Electric Vehicles
- Develop a comprehensive EV plan to exceed the state’s current goal of 300,000 registered zero-emission vehicles by 2025, including comprehensive plans for charging infrastructure and rate design, including “Time-of-Use Rates.”
- Make 100% of new buses purchased in Massachusetts electric by 2030.
- Advance policies that make EVs accessible to families of all incomes, including making rebates available for used EV purchases.
- Create better incentives for buildings to put charging stations in parking lots and garages.
Clean Power Goals
- Advance a credible plan to meet most of the state’s electric power needs with renewable energy by 2050 and 50% or more by 2030.
- Modernize the state’s renewable portfolio standard and drive advances in energy efficiency, renewables and residential storage.
- Continue incentives in expanding solar while making landmark investments in offshore wind.
“The Volkswagen settlement is an unprecedented opportunity for Massachusetts to accelerate transportation electrification and achieve statewide energy and environmental goals,” comments Colleen Quinn, senior vice president of global public policy for ChargePoint. “We strongly support Attorney General Healey’s call to maximize Environmental Mitigation Trust investments in EV charging infrastructure and ensure equitable access to clean transportation by electrifying buses and trucks.”
“At Mass Energy, we see great opportunities for our state’s economy, public health and greenhouse-gas reduction by shifting from gasoline and diesel to EVs of all kinds,” says Eugenia Gibbons, clean energy programs director at Mass Energy, a Boston-based nonprofit consumer and environmental advocacy organization. “Massachusetts needs tangible policies that align with its clean energy and climate goals, including EVs. Mass Energy is pleased to see Attorney General Healey call for a comprehensive plan that includes investments in public charging infrastructure, electrification of buses and a path to achieve 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.”
Healey’s full testimony can be found here.