Report: Switching to zero-emissions cars could save hundreds of Maine lives

Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 6:04 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WMTW) - A new report from the American Lung Association released Wednesday morning says that a national widespread transition to zero-emission passenger cars could save as many as 330 lives in Maine by the year 2050.

The report, titled “Driving to Clean Air: Health Benefits of Zero-Emission Cars and Electricity,” also says that change would have $3.6 billion in public health benefits in Maine in the same timeframe. The report says it would help avoid 4,770 asthma attacks in Maine and avoid 25,200 lost workdays due to people calling out sick.

Nationally, a widespread transition to electric passenger vehicles, including cars, SUVs and light pickup trucks, would result in up to 89,300 fewer premature deaths and $978 billion in health benefits from 2020 to 2050, the report says.

“Too many people across Maine are impacted by the pollution caused by the transportation sector, including our children, grandparents and loved ones living with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer,” said Lance Boucher, Assistant Vice President for State Public Policy at the American Lung Association. “We urge our state leaders to take action today to invest in the transition to zero-emission vehicles, which will improve our air quality and health.”

Maine is already taking steps to promote ownership of electric vehicles, including offering rebates.

At the end of 2021, there were 5,577 electric and hybrid vehicles registered in Maine, according to a progress report from the Maine Climate Council, a 90% increase from 2019, when the administration of Governor Janet Mills launched the rebate program, but still only 2% of all cars and trucks.

The state’s goal is to have 219,000 electric vehicles by 2030 – one of every six vehicles — in order to curb Maine’s carbon emissions by 45%.