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Transition to zero-emission vehicles, energy sources could prevent North Dakota deaths, report finds

Nationwide, if all new passenger vehicles sold are zero-emission by 2035 and all new trucks and buses sold were zero-emission by 2040, the U.S. would generate more than $1.2 trillion in health benefits, the report states.

Wind turbines generating electricity
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BISMARCK — If the United States were to make a widespread transition to electric passenger vehicles by 2035 and electric trucks and buses by 2040, more than 130 premature deaths in North Dakota would be prevented and $1.5 billion in public health benefits for the state would also be created, according to a new report by the American Lung Association.

On Wednesday, March 30, the American Lung Association released its Zeroing in on Healthy Air report, which details the effects that a widespread shift to electric vehicles and renewable, non-combustible energy could have on public health. For North Dakota, the shift to zero-emission transportation and energy would prevent 133 premature deaths, 3,300 asthma attacks and 14,800 lost workdays statewide, according to the report.

Making the transition to zero-emission vehicles and energy production would create numerous improvements to public health, especially in low-income communities, because the transportation industry is one of the country's leading causes of air pollution, according to the report. Four in 10 Americans live in communities impacted by high levels of air pollution, the report states.

"Thankfully, the technologies and systems are in place to make these benefits a reality, especially in communities most impacted by harmful pollution today," said Jon Hunter, senior director of clean air at the American Lung Association, in a statement. "We need North Dakota’s leaders to act to implement equitable policies and invest in the transition to healthy air."

ALA Zeroing in on Healthy Air Report by Michelle Griffith on Scribd

Nationwide, if all new passenger vehicles sold are zero-emission by 2035 and all new trucks and buses sold are zero-emission by 2040, the U.S. would generate more than $1.2 trillion in health benefits, the report states.

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Although the report highlights the public health benefits North Dakota could see with a transition to electric vehicles, it didn't detail the difficulties that shift would have for many in one of the country's top oil-producing states. Extremely cold weather, for which North Dakota's bitter winters are notorious, hinders the range of electric cars, and the vast distance between cities and the state's limited number of charging stations brings additional challenges to the viability of electric cars.

The American Lung Association in its report urged states to make investments in the needed infrastructure for electric vehicles and develop zero-emission standards.

"To reduce air pollution burdens and disparities, and to protect public health against the worst impacts of climate change, policies and investments must align with rapid reduction and elimination of combustion in (transportation and energy)," the report states.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Michelle Griffith, a Report for America corps member, at mgriffith@forumcomm.com.

Michelle (she/her, English speaker) is a Bismarck-based journalist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and Report for America, a national service organization that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities.
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