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Uber to Boost EV Network With Driver Incentives

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Uber launched a new program to increase access to electric vehicles for drivers and riders, the company announced Tuesday.

The "EV Champions Initiative" offers financial incentives to some EV drivers; an in-app feature that alerts EV drivers of trips lasting 30 minutes or more to help combat fears of range anxiety—or the fear that the car's battery will die without timely access to a charging station; and from now on, Uber riders will receive a notification if they are matched with an EV driver.


Among other measures, Uber has partnered with researchers from the University of California, Davis and the non-profit Veloz to raise awareness and encourage adoption of clean transport. Participating drivers may provide riders in-car materials with basic information on the benefits of EVs and the importance of electrification, according to Adam Gromis, Uber's global lead on sustainability and environmental impact.

"We anticipate this initiative will facilitate at least 5 million Uber EV rides over the next year," Gromis wrote in a blog post.

The goal is not too far of a stretch. Roughly 4 million Uber rides were taken in EV last year in the U.S. and Canada, Curbed noted.

After successful pilots in Pittsburgh and Portland, the initiative rolled out yesterday in seven more cities—Austin, Los Angeles, Montreal, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.

The program is tailored differently for each city. For instance, Uber drivers in San Diego, San Francisco and Pittsburgh will be given a $1-per-ride bonus for using plug-in hybrids or full battery EVs, according to the Los Angeles Times. In Sacramento, Uber partnered with the local public utility district to give $1.50 back per trip, Mashable reported.

In Los Angeles, drivers will not get any financial perks for driving an EV, but Uber will notify them of the benefits of owning such a car, such as state rebates, the Southern California Edison clean fuel rebate, HOV-lane access for single occupants and city-specific rebates on installing electric chargers, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"We're excited to continue working with riders, drivers, and cities around the world to facilitate access to more sustainable transportation and work towards solutions that can improve our lifestyles and our cities," Gromis said.

Transportation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, and electric vehicles have been touted as one of the keys to help clean the polluting, gas-guzzling sector. Although EV sales are growing rapidly around the world, only a small percentage of cars on the road are electric. In 2017, of the 17 million new cars sold in the U.S., only 200,000 were EVs, ArsTechnica calculated.

Increasing EV adoption will help facilitate "reliable transportation for everyone, everywhere and [make] our cities more efficient and less reliant on personal car ownership," Gromis wrote.

"Studies by the International Transport Forum, UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab found that when shared and electric mobility are properly combined, along with automation, we can shrink the number of vehicles on the road and reduce transportation's climate footprint," he added.

Uber's move follows rival ridesharing service Lyft's announcement that it will make all of its rides carbon neutral by investing millions of dollars in projects that offset its emissions.

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Protesters gathered outside US Bank and Wells Fargo locations around the U.S. to protest investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline on Dec. 1, 2016. This photo is from a protest outside US Bank in south Minneapolis, Minnesota. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

By Jake Johnson

As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.


Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.

AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.

"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."


The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.

"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.

As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."

"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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