Edison, NJ --  Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin and Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak joined local lawmakers at Lake Papaianni Park on Wednesday to celebrate National Drive Electric Week.

Edison residents tried out cars like the Audi eTron, Chevy Bolt, and Tesla Model 3, after local leaders and environmental advocates called for policies that ease the transition to cleaner, greener, electrified vehicle travel in New Jersey.

“Edison is especially proud to host this event during National Drive Electric Week. As Mayor, as a consumer, and as someone who breathes New Jersey’s air, I recognize that electric cars are among the most efficient solutions to reduce exhaust emissions and air pollution, and to decrease greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Doing this will provide a cleaner, safer environment for everyone,” said Mr. Lankey.

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In the most densely populated state in the country, with 9 million people, New Jersey has more than 3 million registered vehicles, and New Jerseyans suffer from some of the worst regional air pollution, according to the Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center. 

According to the American Lung Association’s 2019 State of the Air report, Middlesex County failed to meet ozone protection levels under current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) health standards. Middlesex County suffered 26 orange alert days and has more than 71,212 pediatric and adult asthmatics.

“In order to secure a future of clean air and sustainable infrastructure, our state must face the issue head on by making zero-emission electric vehicles affordable and available to all,” Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak said. “I’m a proud sponsor of several bills that would establish statewide programs to lay the groundwork and infrastructure for electric vehicles in New Jersey. My hope is that through careful planning and incentive structures, Edison and central New Jersey will become the hub of EV dealerships and charging stations. The future is here now and EVs will be a boom across New Jersey.”

“Increasing the number of electric vehicles on the road is a crucial step to meeting New Jersey’s emissions reduction goals,” said Debra Coyle McFadden, executive director of New Jersey Work Environment Council. “Transitioning our transportation infrastructure to electric is an opportunity to create good paying jobs, improve public health by reducing air pollution along well-traveled routes and mitigate our impact on the changing climate.”

In response to the challenge of climate change, Governor Phil Murphy’s proposed Energy Master Plan (EMP) has called for increased electric vehicle infrastructure as well as a transition to clean energy to reduce carbon emissions.  The EMP’s public comment period closed on Monday, and the plan will be under review by the Board of Public Utilities until the end of this year.

“Electric vehicles are here now, and New Jersey needs to do more to make it easier to plug in,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center. “Electrifying our transportation sector is one of the most critical things we can do to fight air pollution and climate change. By taking steps to improve our EV infrastructure and accelerate the transition to electric transportation, New Jersey can create a roadmap for other states to follow. But we need to provide more resources and funding to communities like Edison to install more EV charging stations around the state.”

This February, NJDEP announced the first round of VW settlement money for EV charging stations in 55 municipalities and counties including 17 Level 2 dual port chargers at Rutgers New Brunswick, 1 in East Brunswick, and 10 in Woodbridge.

“For New Jersey to combat climate change and meet our goals to reduce emissions, we have to improve how we get around by expanding options such as public transit. And for trips that have to be made by car, electric is the way to go,” said Amy Folkerts, Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center campaign organizer.

“Electrifying our transportation sector is both one of the most powerful steps we can take to fight global warming and the best way to reduce ozone air pollution across Central Jersey” said Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin, Chair of the Assembly Environment Committee. “Establishing a 21st century electric vehicle charging infrastructure across New Jersey would be a vital step toward the goal of eliminating greenhouse gases from our transportation system.”