Statement Concerning Filing of Petition for Review Concerning EPA’s Mid-Term Evaluation of Vehicle Standards

On Tuesday, Seattle City Light and other electric utilities filed a petition for review in the Washington, D.C., Circuit Court of Appeals, challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) determination that EPA’s existing greenhouse gas emission standards for cars and trucks are not appropriate and must be revised.

Electrification of the transportation sector is a key strategy to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change.

“City Light is making significant investments in electric vehicle infrastructure and charging facilities to help advance our customers’ adoption of clean vehicles and achieve emission reductions,” Interim General Manager and CEO Jim Baggs said. “We have already installed two fast charging stations and are working to install 18 more. We also are investing heavily in charging facilities for electric vehicles in the city’s fleet. These investments are part of our overall commitment to modernize the electric grid and continue delivering clean, reliable power to our customers.”

The determination we have challenged is an abrupt reversal of the conclusion EPA reached just 15 months earlier, when it found that the standards were appropriate based on a comprehensive technical assessment conducted in coordination with the Department of Transportation and California.

Late last month, EPA’s own Science Advisory Board voted to review the adequacy of the science cited by EPA in support of its reversal, after a board work group found that EPA had relied extensively on information that had not been adequately validated or peer reviewed.

City Light remains committed to moving forward in support of electric vehicles and opposes EPA’s reversal.  We will continue to support strong greenhouse gas emission standards that will accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles across the country and help mitigate climate change.

Drive Clean Seattle – Leading by Example

Several weeks ago, at the Climate Leadership Conference, Mayor Murray announced a major new initiative to tackle climate change at the local level and take meaningful action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A sector-wide transportation initiative, Drive Clean Seattle is a key piece of the City’s climate action agenda, is one of the most comprehensive plans in the country to electrify transportation at scale, and sets us on a path to transition away from oil.

Drive Clean Seattle leads by example by investing in transforming the City of Seattle fleet. The Mayor has committed to reducing global warming pollution from the City’s fleet 50% by 2025. The tools to achieve this ambitious goal are already available. With Drive Clean Seattle we are ramping up our use of cleaner fuels and more efficient vehicles. Using a variety of types of electric vehicles, our new electric fleet will replace nearly 120,000 gallons of gasoline per year – that’s the equivalent of about 400 passenger sedans across the city’s fleet.

Cutting pollution depends not just on what fuel we use, but on the size of the fleet as well. Right-sizing our City vehicle fleet and investing in computerized idle control and other fuel saving technologies will save money and reduce pollution.

The City is taking the lead here, and we are challenging the private sector to match our commitment. Transitioning to electric fleets will save businesses money, introduces many more drivers to electric vehicles, and keeps fuel dollars circulating in the local economy. It is the right decision for the bottom line and for the environment. The key now is to expand opportunities for transportation electrification to everyone in the City. With Drive Clean Seattle, we are committing to make Seattle a brighter, cleaner and more vibrant place to live for all of our residents – starting right now with our own fleet.

 

Mayor Murray launches Drive Clean Seattle

Initiative to electrify Seattle’s transportation system among most comprehensive in the nation

Today at the Climate Leadership Conference, Mayor Murray announced a bold new initiative focused on leveraging Seattle’s clean electricity across the transportation sector. Drive Clean Seattle is a comprehensive plan to accelerate and increase the use of electric vehicles to move people, goods and services around the City.

“Drive Clean Seattle is an aggressive plan to electrify our transportation at a broad scale,” said Mayor Murray. “We will work with residents, transit agencies, and businesses to promote the use Seattle City Light’s carbon neutral electricity to move around the city. Transportation is Seattle’s leading source of greenhouse gases and this plan will allow us to work aggressively to reduce climate impacts.”

“Transportation is the largest source of climate and air pollution in Seattle. Air quality is a major environmental justice issue here,” said Craig Kenworthy, Executive Director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. “Getting cleaner vehicles on our roads will support better health outcomes for some of our most vulnerable residents in Seattle. I applaud Mayor Murray and the City of Seattle for making this commitment.”

Mayor Murray announced the following specific goals and actions:

  1. Leading By Example: Transform the City of Seattle Fleet

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the City’s municipal fleet 50 percent by 2025 through a combination of cleaner fuels, more efficient vehicles, and significant investment in electric vehicles.

  1. Accelerating EV Adoption: Enable and support the adoption of 15,000 electric vehicles by 2025

This goal represents a five-fold increase in the number of electric vehicles currently on the road. To help accelerate the pace of adoption, the City will launch several projects over the next year to triple the number of publicly available DC Fast Chargers throughout Seattle. Seattle City Light will also launch a pilot project to support residential charging stations in homes through innovative on-bill repayment and time-of-day pricing.

  1. Improving Air Quality: Reduce congestion and improve air quality

Electric transit and other modes of shared transportation means better air quality in busy transit corridors. Transit systems provide the best opportunity to reduce emissions at scale and ensure everyone can participate in the electrified transportation economy. In addition to welcoming a new electric car share company to the Seattle marketplace, the City will continue to partner with King County Metro, Sound Transit, and other regional transit agencies to identify opportunities to continue to use our clean electricity as a transit fuel.

  1. Growing the Economy: Electricity as a transportation fuel keeps our fuel dollars in the community

Direct the Office of Economic Development and the Office of Sustainability and Environment to develop a strategy to help businesses, organizations, and residents participate in the electrified transportation economy, as well as align City regulations, policies, codes, and plans to encourage electric vehicles and private sector investment in cleaner transportation choices.

“From the time we embraced the goal of Seattle becoming a carbon neutral city, we knew clean solutions for the transportation sector would be critical,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, chair of the Transportation and Environment Committee. “Drive Clean Seattle sends a strong message that we are serious and optimistic about being able to significantly reduce the climate impacts of our transportation system.”

“While Seattle appears to have a lot of electric vehicles, the charging infrastructure is sorely lacking,” said Larry Weis, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s nominee to become the next CEO and general manager of Seattle City Light. “I’m committed to finding a way to improve charging and other infrastructure to support electric vehicles.”

“MacDonald Miller has made conversion to electric vehicles a priority for our fleet,” noted the company’s fleet manager, Bruce Birdsell. “Mayor Murray’s Drive Clean Seattle initiative will create the infrastructure necessary for our continued conversion, saving carbon emissions from our transportation fleet as we continue to help our customers save carbon emissions through building energy efficiency.”

“Electric vehicles in Seattle reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality. Climate change is one of the greatest human health threats of our time. The Mayor’s initiative is smart leadership that will help protect the health of our community for generations to come,” said Brenna Davis, Director of Sustainability at Virginia Mason.

Center City Connector Streetcar recommended for $75 million grant

re-posted from the Mayor’s blog

Last week the City of Seattle’s Center City Connector Streetcar Project was recommended for a $75 million grant in President Obama’s 2017 Budget. The project would link the existing South Lake Union and First Hill Streetcar lines, creating a system that would connect over a dozen Seattle neighborhoods in Seattle’s Center City.

If approved by Congress, this $75 million grant would be one of the largest federal grants the City has received for a transportation project in recent history.

“Seattle thanks President Obama and our Congressional delegation for the incredible support so far for downtown transit,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We look forward to working with our supporters in Congress to change how downtown residents, workers and visitors move around the urban core. With a dedicated lane for the new streetcar, as well as connections to existing streetcar lines and transit hubs, the Center City Connector would deliver frequent, reliable service for thousands of riders every day.”

By linking existing streetcar investments, the Center City Connector is designed to provide a seamless streetcar system that will serve major visitor destinations, employment centers, and areas where the city is experiencing significant growth. The fully integrated system is projected to carry up to 30,000 average weekday riders.

Once completed, the Connector will serve Seattle’s three intermodal hubs at Westlake, Colman Dock and King Street Station. The system would provide convenient transfers to the Third Avenue Transit Spine at both ends of Downtown, to Link Light Rail via multiple Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel station entries, and to Sounder Commuter Rail at King Street Station.

The project would:

  • Address current and future mobility needs for residents, workers and tourists
  • Meet the growth in demand for Center City circulation trips
  • Address constraints on expansion of Center City transportation
  • Provide affordable transportation access to key social and human services located in the Center City
  • Mitigate greenhouse gas emissions resulting from vehicles and traffic congestion

Additional information about the Center City Connector can be found here:  http://www.seattlestreetcar.org/centercity.htm.