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Report says electric vehicles could save Arkansas billions in health costs

An electric vehicle charging station along Interstate 30 in Texarkana, Texas near the Arkansas border.
Michael Hibblen
An electric vehicle charging station along Interstate 30 in Texarkana, Texas near the Arkansas border on June 20, 2021.

A new report from the American Lung Association says transitioning completely to electric vehicles over the next 20 years could save Arkansans over $9 billion in medical costs by 2050.

Laura Turner with the group says there are many lung-related issues linked vehicle emissions.

“Factoring in all of the issues that we know are connected to pollution and figuring out, based on that, if we [could] reduce those health issues proportionately, such as asthma attacks,” Turner said.

The report released Wednesday predicts 20,300 asthma attacks would be avoided, 865 fewer Arkansans would die from lung disease, and 90,700 fewer workdays would be lost to pollution-triggered events. All of that, the report claims, would result in $9.5 billion in savings over a 30-year span.

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic lower respiratory diseases, a category which includes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma, are the third leading cause of death in Arkansas.

The American Lung Association projections assume that certain goals would be met regarding the electric vehicle transition.

“All new passenger vehicles sold are zero-emission, [or electric-powered], by 2035, and all new heavy-duty vehicles sold are zero-emission by 2040,” said Turner.

She also said Arkansas is taking steps toward increasing the percentage of electric vehicles on the road.

“The state is going to be investing $54 million in electric cars. What I think of when I think of what is going on in Arkansas is the Future of Mobility Council that has just been established by Gov. Hutchinson. I know that policy recommendation is going to be one of the roles of that council.”

Turner also pointed to the recent news that two electric vehicle manufacturers, Canoo and Envirotech Vehicles, have announced plans to locate plants in the state. The manufacturing facilities in Arkansas are expected to give a major boost to the state’s economy.

Last month, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced the creation of the new council to study how to best position the state for economic opportunities through futuristic technologies.

David Monteith worked as a reporter for KUAR News between 2015 and July 2022.