By Corinne Murdock |
Last Tuesday, the Tucson City Council mandated new multifamily residential, office, and commercial buildings increase their costs by requiring them to be outfitted with electric vehicle charging stations. The new requirement, Ordinance No. 11953, takes effect on December 1 (the council agreed to that date during last Tuesday’s meeting, not the one written into the ordinance linked).
The council also allowed builders to reduce regular parking by up to 30 percent in order to incentivize electric vehicle usage.
This latest mandate is an expansion of an ongoing initiative by the council to make all of Tucson electric vehicle-friendly. Last summer, the council mandated that all new single and duplex homes have electric vehicle charging. As part of that mandate, the council launched planning efforts to draft this latest requirement.
Mayor Regina Romero insisted during last Tuesday’s council meeting that the city needed to keep up with the federal government’s climate change initiatives. Romero alluded that electric vehicles were the answer to the historically high gas prices, which she acknowledged was hurting people.
The resounding sentiment of the council was that climate change necessitated immediate action in the form of electric vehicle infrastructure expansion.
However, some researchers report that the mining and production of electric vehicle batteries negate the environmental benefits of driving electric through carbon emissions and water depletion. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejects those observations, along with concerns that the electricity generated for charging creates other negative environmental impacts.
Yang Shao-Horn, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) engineering professor, indicated that battery production processes aren’t environmentally friendly.
“If we don’t change how we make materials, how we make chemicals, how we manufacture, everything will essentially stay the same,” stated Shao-Horn.
There’s also concern over the toxic waste of expired electric vehicle batteries. Apart from that issue, crashes or manufacturing mishaps may result in batteries emitting toxic fumes at best or fires and explosions at worst.
Only 64 members of the public reportedly offered input to the city council; about 50 (80 percent) expressed support for the requirement, with 26 (40 percent) insisting that the requirement should go further.
Tucson’s electric vehicle initiative aligns with state goals. In June, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) announced the development of a statewide network of electric vehicle charging stations using over $76 million in federal funds. At present, ADOT is gathering public input.
ADOT last held a public meeting in mid-July to provide updates and gather public input.
Watch the council’s decision to require electric vehicle charging at new buildings below:
The city plans to review the impact of their requirement after one year of its implementation.