Valley Air District helps lower-income people get electric cars to help reduce pollution

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Valley consistently ranks high on a list of polluted places in the United States. The American Lung Association says more than 135 million Americans live in areas where just breathing is a health risk.

The Valley Air District is helping to reduce pollution by providing access to electric vehicles where it used to be limited with its Drive Clean in the San Joaquin Program.

"We really want to ensure that Valley residents have the opportunity and access to clean vehicle transportation," said Brian Dodds, the program manager at the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

The program puts equity at the forefront, helping qualifying lower-income people navigate the process of securing vouchers for smog repairs and rebates for zero-emission cars.

"Incentives under the program include up to $9,500 for residents replacing their car with a battery-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle," Dodds said.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates vehicles make up nearly 75 percent of the carbon monoxide pollution in the U.S., which can cause severe health complications, including asthma, cancer, and birth defects.

"Unfortunately, southwest Fresno is home to the most polluted zip code in the state," said Emilia Reyes, CEO of the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission. "A clean air vehicle has the possibility of increasing the quality of life. They will have lower fueling costs, mechanic bills, a more reliable vehicle, more money for basic needs."

A UCLA study compared four California air districts implementing programs like this.

It found the San Joaquin Valley model was the most successful in serving disadvantaged groups and could be a model in other places across the state.

Vehicle Program:

https://www.valleyair.org/drivecleaninthesanjoaquin/

Charging Program:

http://valleyair.org/grants/chargeup.htm
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