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Couch's Corner: McFarland EV charging station important for future of Kern

This past Tuesday, District 4 staff had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the McFarland electric vehicle charging station groundbreaking. We love being a part of events like this, most importantly, for what the event foreshadows: More electric cars on our roads and more charging station options available to them. Obviously, the two go hand in hand, and are an important part of our county, state and nation’s approach to renewable energy and clean air.

Last week in Couch’s Corner, we also spoke of energy, of an innovative microgrid technology getting started in Arvin. We stated then and do so again that these are all parts of the county's coherent, thoughtful, environmentally responsible approach to energy that takes all of our energy resources and finds ways to use them in the best way possible, where we can clean our air, save our natural resources, and power our factories, farms and cars. In this day of sound bites where people sometimes think one has to be for or against something, these are proofs that we can be for all solutions that encompass an all of the above approach to energy while still being for pollution control and carbon reductions.

The EV charging station, in fact, gets its funding from fees collected through gas taxes we pay and other sources. Paving dirt shoulders, reconstruction of roads, surfacing of unpaved roads, asphalting, overlays, curbs and gutters are all part of the work done with the Congestion Management Air Quality funds. Much appreciation goes to our local Kern Council of Governments team that manages these funds and finds projects that help us move forward in attaining our air quality and traffic improvements. The past few years, nearly $35 million has been spent in our District 4 using these funds.

These projects are justified in our District 4 communities because we are currently in non-attainment for PM 10 (particulate matter) under federal clean air guidelines. PM 10 has been linked to premature death, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, lost work days, school absences and other things that cause increased health care costs.

The paving of unpaved roads and unpaved shoulders help the region reduce PM10 emissions. As vehicles travel on unpaved roads or paved roads adjacent to unpaved shoulders, the vehicles kick up dust into the air. The communities surrounding many of the projects are within economically disadvantaged community areas. Paving unpaved roads improves the quality of life for residents in the neighborhood and in the region. Shoulder paving increases and enhances the number of modes accommodated on an existing asset by creating a safer and more accessible road for all.

One day, EV charging stations are going to dot the highway, just like our gas stations do today. But to get to that point, we need to work together to maximize our energy resources, clean our air and reduce carbon emissions. It’s part of the all of the above approach that also utilizes gas and requires local oil production, which I am also for because it’s a vital energy resource too and provides jobs that maintain our local economy.

By having an all of the above approach, I am sure we can work together to find solutions like these EV stations and electric cars without damaging our local economy and risking our national security. It’s not one or the other but all of the above that gets us to our desired solutions. Let’s work together to get there.

Feel free to contact our District 4 office at 661-868-3680 or email us at district4@kerncounty.com if you have any questions. Have a safe week.

David Couch represents Kern County’s 4th District.