Senate Considers $454 Billion Swap to Nationwide Electrification
On Thursday, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) proposed a $454 billion plan aimed at converting the United States from a gasoline-powered nation to one driven primarily by electricity. Under the 10-year plan, automotive consumers would get rebates ranging from $3,000 to over $5,000 (based on efficiency), plus another $2,000 for low-income buyers, for the purchase of electric vehicles made in America.
“This proposal to bring clean cars to all of America will be a key component of the far-reaching climate legislation from Senate Democrats, and I’m proud it has a broad coalition of support,” the senior senator said in a statement.
Much like the haphazard way Schumer insists on wearing glasses at the outermost tip of his nose, begging for gravity to take them, his plan has us mildly concerned.
The plan would “reduce the number of carbon-emitting cars on the road, create thousands of good-paying jobs, and accelerate the transition to net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century,” Schumer said.
It would adopt rules similar to the 2009 $3 billion “Cash for Clunkers” plan that sought to stimulate U.S. auto sales.
Schumer’s proposal would provide $45 billion for additional EV charging stations and $17 billion in incentives for automakers to build new factories or retool existing ones to assemble zero-emission vehicles or charging equipment with a goal that by 2040 “all vehicles on the road should be clean.”
Firstly, don’t we already have something like this? Standing EV tax credits already do a lot to offset the higher entry price of electric cars. While some manufacturers have already reached their 200,000-vehicle quota, kicking off a phase-out, other companies can continue taking advantage of it, with consumers writing off a significant portion of their purchase. Schumer’s plan would continue subsidizing these vehicles — to the tune of $14,500 in some cases.
Its relationship to Cash for Clunkers is also mildly alarming. The 2009 program actually ended up being terrible for the environment by ignoring the key tenant of conservation. Old cars were simply disposed off, with few seeing any recycling action, while factories had to emit more pollution to build their replacements. That effectively created an abundance of waste in a bid to stimulate the U.S. economy.
While largely incongruent with the Trump administration’s fuel rollback idea, which would freeze existing emission mandates at 2020 levels through 2026, Schumer said the plan would massively cut down on oil consumption. It’s currently supported by multiple environmental groups, among them the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, and League of Conservation Voters.
United Auto Workers President Gary Jones claimed Schumer’s proposal “honors the sweat and sacrifice of American autoworkers by investing in domestic manufacturing of electric vehicles and incentivizing high quality jobs across the auto supply chain.” Ford Motor Co. and General Motors also expressed appreciation for the effort taken to advance electrification, especially in regard to infrastructure support and consumer incentives. However, both have a vested interest in EVs and have dumped billions into development programs.
Presently, there’s no legislative text for the proposal — and with good reason. Democrats would need a majority in the Senate for it to go anywhere. Schumer is likely running it up the flagpole to create buzz in the event that Republicans lose their majority in the 2020 election. He claims the plan’s ultimate aim is to make all vehicles sold in the U.S. “clean” by 2040, estimating that roughly 25 percent of U.S. vehicles could be electrically driven within the next 10 years.
[Source: Reuters] [Image: michelmond/Shutterstock]
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