PATERSON, NJ - More than 60 elected officials, members of the clergy, and local residents enjoyed bright sunshine as they viewed and learned the benefits of the more than one dozen electric cars, as well as a hybrid vehicle that runs on both gasoline and a battery, on display in the parking lot Paterson’s historic Calvary Baptist Church Wednesday.
The event, hosted by GreenFaith, a coalition for the environment that works with houses of worship, religious schools, and people of all faiths to guide environmental stewardship, was held to highlight an upcoming vote in the New Jersey Legislature on a bill to develop incentives and infrastructure for electric transportation in New Jersey.
Saying it was the second electric car show they have hosted, Reverend Randall Lassiter, Senior Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church, added that there is an urgency to address climate change and air pollution in urban communities. “We are here not only for the educational and economic opportunity, but also, above all else, to care for the voiceless, the blind, and the sick.”
According to a statement released at the event, air pollution in New Jersey causes more than $4.5 billion annually in medical problems and climate change-related damage, with vehicular emissions being responsible for over 40 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Sharing her organization’s vision for an increase in electric cars on the roads and charging stations set up across the state, Debra Coyle McFadden of the Work Environment Council (WEC) said that “we are here today to support working on state based solutions to climate change.”
“We also desire to see all New Jersey Transit buses transition to electric power from diesel fuel,” Coyle McFadden continued, a message her organization delivered in Paterson earlier this year. “All of these initiatives will bring jobs to New Jersey in the fields of innovation, manufacturing, and technology.”
“The American Lung Association has given Passaic County a ‘D’ for air quality,” Doug O’Malley director of Environment New Jersey told the crowd. “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.”
Passaic County Freeholder Assad Akhter called the environmental consideration “an issue of life” and referenced the importance of improving the air quality for children, especially for those growing up in urban areas.
Studies have consistently shown that low income and urban communities are most often negatively impacted by climate change and air pollution.
“This is awesome,” Cynthia Miller, a deacon at Calvary Baptist said from the driver’s seat of a pristine, white, electric Tesla. “I like how clean this car is. I like the computer that comes with it. I would like to have one of these in the future, but I would prefer to have an electric SUV.”
“I’m getting a charge today, pun intended,” Sayegh joked when it was his turn at the podium.
“This is about lungs and it’s about labor,” he continued striking a more serious tone. “We want clean air and we want green jobs, and Paterson has to be at the forefront of this movement.”
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