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Environment & Energy

As EPA Cuts Loom, Peduto Encourages PA Residents To Buy Electric Vehicles

Kathleen J. Davis
90.5 WESA
A Tesla parked on Pittsburgh's north shore on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017.

The fuel efficiency of new cars has improved by 10 percent in the last five years, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, but advocates at PennEnvironment fear the federal standard that required car manufacturers to make those changes could be in danger.

President Donald Trump has suggested cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency since before his election last year. His administration's proposed budget would decrease EPA funding by 31 percent next fiscal year and cut 50 programs nationwide.

Though Pennsylvania residents have been slow to adopt electric vehicles, Mayor Bill Peduto said the city is trying to set a standard for the state.

"Fuel efficiency and the end of wasted energy need to be at the forefront of our economic development strategy, not just our environmental strategy," Peduto said.

Peduto said the city plans to create electric corridors throughout the city, increase the number of charging stations and introduce seven hybrid police pursuit vehicles to Pittsburgh's roads.

Turning Second Avenue into an electric corridor was part of Pittsburgh's Smart Cities Challenge bid in 2016, one aspect of an overall plan to reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas by 50 percent by 2030.

Of more than 8 million total passenger cars registered in Pennsylvania, only 3,600 are electric.

There have been state-level initiatives to encourage residents to buy electric. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is currently accepting applications for an alternative fuel rebate program; 500 rebates are available for low-income residents who purchase a new or gently used electric vehicle under $50,000.

Officials said the program will be reevaluated after all rebates are paid.