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Exploring how the way we live influences climate change and its impact across the Carolinas. You also can read additional national and international climate news.

Charlotte leaders support new clean car standards to boost ‘environmental justice’

An electric vehicle charging at a charging station.
New federal clean car emissions standards are expected to drive up the production of electric vehicles.

The 2027 model-year lineup will feature more electric vehicles and hybrids, following a new EPA ruling that aims to cut tailpipe emissions. Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Dante Anderson said this week that the new transportation emission standards will help protect marginalized communities disproportionately impacted by traffic pollution.

“For too long, we’ve asked these Charlotte communities to carry the burden,” said Anderson on Tuesday. “So, yes, this is what we call environmental justice.”

That’s especially true in a car-dependent city like Charlotte, where a large majority of commuters drive to work solo.

Don't miss WFAE's 2024 Carolinas Climate Summit on April 18. We have an exciting lineup of speakers who will address the impact of climate change on the Carolinas; climate and environmental justice; solutions; individual action; and other key issues that are shaping our region.

“It is huge for us at CleanAIRE NC,” said Jeffrey Robbins, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy and research group, in a written statement to WFAE. He pointed to the figures released by the Biden administration that indicate the new standards would avoid an estimated 7 billion tons of carbon dioxide, saving the United States an estimated $13 billion in health care savings due to improved air quality.

The rule will also prove a boon to the electric vehicle economy. The Southeast is emerging as a “battery belt,” Biden officials have said.

“Just in the Charlotte region alone, we have hundreds of millions of dollars of private investments announced and thousands of jobs forecasted,” said Zach Amittay, an advocate for the nonprofit Environmental Entrepreneurs.

Amittay said the state is already seeing more EV satellite industries, including projects like the Toyota battery manufacturing plant, Atom Power’s EV charging station manufacturer and the Albemarle lithium mine. In South Carolina, electric vehicle battery maker AESC announced another $1.5 billion investment in Florence County to build a second battery cell manufacturing facility.

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Zachary Turner is a climate reporter and author of the WFAE Climate News newsletter. He freelanced for radio and digital print, reporting on environmental issues in North Carolina.