Report: Illinois would see $49.2B in health benefits with widespread EV adoption
Bloomington-Normal is already well-aware of the economic upside of the electric-vehicle revolution, thanks to Rivian. It’s rapidly become McLean County’s second-largest employer and revived a shuttered auto plant.
But a new report quantifies the potential health benefits of a widespread transition to zero-emission passenger vehicles and electricity. That report was released Wednesday by the American Lung Association. It provides a state-level forecast of what would happen if all new vehicle sales were EVs by 2035, coupled with non-combustion electricity generation.
“We would see benefits across different areas, related to public health, including premature deaths, fewer asthma attacks, and fewer lost workdays,” said Kristina Hamilton, the Chicago-based advocacy director for the American Lung Association.
In Illinois, the transition would generate $49.2 billion in public health benefits by 2050 and result in up to 4,490 avoided deaths, 113,000 avoided asthma attacks, 549,000 avoided lost workdays, according to the report, titled “Driving to Clean Air.”
Illinois has already taken some steps in this direction, including passage of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) in 2021. That law sets a goal to get 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030 and includes funding to build EV infrastructure across the state and provide rebates to customers for electric vehicle purchases.
Hamilton praised Gov. JB Pritzker and the General Assembly for passing CEJA.
“To take that further, we would like to see the state of Illinois adopt the Advance Clean Cars II rule that six states have already adopted,” she said. “That would spur our zero-emission transition even more. We’d see an adoption of 100% zero-emission vehicle standards for all sales by 2035. It also requires stronger emission standards for combustion vehicles to 2035.”
There’s a long way to go. Around 5.8% of new vehicle sales in the U.S. were EVs in 2022, up from 3.2% the year before, according to Kelley Blue Book estimates. Cox Automotive is forecasting 1 million EV sales in the U.S. for the first time ever in 2023, which will push EV share higher.
A separate report from the American Lung Association called “State of the Air” found that over 35% of all Americans — about 120 million people — live in areas impacted by unhealthy levels of ozone and/or particle pollution. People of color make up the majority of those living in communities with unhealthy air, according to the group.