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Resolution on WTA bus electrification at April 23 General Membership Meeting

[DRAFT] Resolution on Public Transit Electrification

Referred by unanimous vote of the Issues & Resolutions Committee on April 13. The meeting will be on Zoom Saturday April 23 starting at 10:30 am (Zoom link will be in our April Newsletter), and will include appearances by 2022 candidates for US Congress, State Legislature (40th and 42nd LDs), and Whatcom County Prosecutor.

Whereas, climate change is an existential threat to humankind and much of life on earth,

Whereas, according to Saul Griffith, author of Electrify, the only chance we have of meeting climate goals is to immediately commit to not purchasing any new infrastructure dependent on fossil fuels; to continue using such existing infrastructure through the end of its lifetime but that when replacements are necessary they should be electric,[1]

Whereas, transportation accounts for 29% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, making it the largest contributor of greenhouse gasses,[2]

Whereas, Washington State GHG emissions from transportation have increased by more than 9% between 2015 and 2018, including a 9% increase in the emissions created by on-road diesel fuel,[3]

Whereas, the City of Bellingham Climate Protection Action Plan seeks to reduce emissions within Bellingham city limits by 40% from the 2000 baseline emissions by 2030,[4]

Whereas, Whatcom County climate targets seek to reduce emissions throughout the county by 45% of 1990 levels by 2030 and government emissions by 85% of 2000 levels,[5]

Whereas, The Washington State Legislature has set the target to eliminate GHG emissions by 95% of 1990 levels by 2050,[6]

Whereas, the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transportation District has been operating battery-powered electric buses since 1991, and four years ago adopted a goal of a 100 percent zero-emissions fleet by the year 2030,[7]

Whereas, as of four years ago, the city of Shenzhen, China, had already electrified all of its more than 16,000 buses,[8]

Whereas, although electric buses are twice as expensive to purchase as diesel buses, they are considerably less expensive in lifecycle costs, because maintenance is far less expensive, and the price of diesel fuel is at an all-time high, up roughly 50% from last year,[9] way beyond the cost of electricity,

Whereas, federal and state grants are currently available for purchase of electric buses,[10]

Therefore, be it resolved, the Whatcom Democrats calls on the Whatcom Transportation Authority to reverse its decision to order eight new diesel buses and instead purchase only electric buses going forward, and immediately implement strategies to achieve the goals of the WTA 2040 Long Range Plan,

Therefore, be it further resolved, the Whatcom Democrats calls on the Washington State Legislature to set electrification targets for local transportation agencies in line with statewide zero-emissions targets and to establish a grant program to fund such modernization.

[1] “It has to be now—not 10 years from now, or even a month from now. We have arrived at the last moment when we can shift global energy infrastructure without passing a 1.5°C/2.7°F-2°C/3.6°F temperature rise. … The notion that we have 10 years also fails to recognize “committed emissions,” those that are locked in because we have already invested in infrastructure that will emit carbon dioxide throughout its useful life. An example is the car sitting in your driveway that burns gasoline but is too new to trade in for an electric vehicle. … This scenario of replacing everything that uses energy with a zero-carbon solution when it’s retired is called a 100% adoption rate. Today, when a car reaches retirement age, there is only a small chance that it will be replaced by an EV. If 1 in 10 people buys an EV, then we say the adop­tion rate is 10%. Because machines like your car have long lifetimes, that means that traditional gas-powered cars will remain on the road for a long time. To reduce emissions, though, our world can no longer afford those slow adoption rates. We need everyone buying electric vehicles. …While that sounds dramatic, it doesn’t mean you have to run out to buy a new EV today. It means that the next time you need to retire a car or any other machine, it should be replaced with one that doesn’t emit CO2.” Saul Griffith, Electrify: An Optimist’s Playbook for Our Clean Energy Future (MIT Press, 2021).

[3] Washington State Department of Ecology. “Washington State Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory: 1990-2018.” 2021.

[4] City of Bellingham. “Climate Protection Action Plan.” 2018.

[5] Whatcom County. “Whatcom County Climate Action Plan.” 2021.–20211022-ver2

[6] RCW 70A.45.020(1)(a).

[8] World Resources Institute, “How Did Shenzhen, China Build World’s Largest Electric Bus Fleet?”

[10] Connecticut Dept. of Transportation, “CTDOT Receives $11.4 Million Federal Grant to Replace Diesel Buses with Efficient Battery Electric Buses,” March 15, 2022,

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