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My View: Clean technology can put us in the driver’s seat

As leader of a group that counts hundreds of member companies across the state and beyond, it’s no surprise that their interests are as varied as the people reading this column right now. Getting these companies to agree on one subject has been nearly impossible.

Until now.

I can tell you the business community recognizes the explosion in clean technology growth is certain to continue. And it’s no secret that this progress is only going to accelerate in the next few years.

That’s good news for our members such as EnPower, ER2 and Sundial Energy who are deeply involved in this sector. Add yourself to the list of beneficiaries.

Steven G. Zylstra, President & CEO
Arizona Technology Council

I was part of a group of clean vehicle advocates this week who called for modernizing the transportation sector by investing in advanced vehicles and transportation infrastructure, as well as expanding electric vehicle (EV) tax incentives. Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego was among those who urged Congress to pass a budget that makes ambitious investments in EVs, creating jobs and spurring economic opportunity for all Arizonans.

Sound like new ideas for just a younger generation? Well, do you like breathing bad air? Consider that the transportation sector is the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution. Investments in and expanded tax credits for EVs would help reduce air pollution and protect our health. Air pollution exacerbates respiratory diseases like asthma, which afflicts more than 132,000 children and nearly 550,000 adults across Arizona, according to the American Lung Association.

And are you OK with the effects of climate change? Pollution-free vehicles and investments in clean transportation infrastructure are some of the most effective tools to combat climate change, which has made extreme weather events like heat waves, droughts and wildfires more frequent and intense. In fact, Arizona experienced 13 extreme weather events from 2010 to 2020, costing the state up to $10 billion in damages, according to data contained in the American Jobs Plan.

We already have the pragmatic, on-the-ground work of state and local governments, and entrepreneurial and business communities with a tremendous capacity for innovation. If we can add the full muscle of an engaged federal government, these efforts will pay financial dividends to Arizonans for decades to come.

To help accomplish this, we need our representatives in Congress to pass a budget bill with strong, aggressive support for efforts to modernize the transportation sector by moving to zero-emissions vehicles, to expand production of manufacturing of clean technology, and to invest in the infrastructure needed to support electric cars and buses.

Benefits for Arizona

Arizona can experience the benefits of this transformation. We have the willpower and the goals. A budget with major investments in clean infrastructure will boost technological innovation and bring the economic development that Arizona needs to become competitive in the EV space.

I applaud Senators Krysten Sinema and Mark Kelly for their demonstrated climate and business leadership. They can help again by bringing these investments in the EV market to our state to grow our clean vehicle economy and create opportunity for all Arizonans. Achieving this transformation is critical for establishing market certainty and fostering economic growth here.

Electric vehicles create local, high-quality jobs such as what we’ve witnessed with Lucid Motors and soon to be ElectraMeccanica, and serve as catalysts for economic growth in Arizona. A recent analysis indicates that on average, every electric vehicle manufactured between now and the year 2030 will add $4,100 per vehicle to the local economy.

Supporting our nation’s transition to advanced vehicles will create additional economic opportunities. Nearly 274,000 jobs already are associated with advanced vehicle technologies nationwide, according to the national group E2. The Biden administration has an ambitious plan to build 500,000 new EV charging stations across the U.S. by 2030, bolstering our nation’s growing clean vehicle economy.

At the same time, tax incentives and the expansion of electric vehicle manufacturing will continue to make it more affordable for cities, families and individuals to go electric. Statewide, this will amount to hundreds of millions of dollars of savings over the cost of gasoline.

I encourage you to join us in urging Sinema, Kelly and other members of Congress to get behind advanced vehicles, an updated transportation infrastructure and EV tax incentives. It’s not often that a return on investment can keep us in the driver’s seat for years to come.

Steve Zylstra is president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council.


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