We live in some exciting times. Or as Dickens might have put it, it is the best of times and it is the worst of times. There has been so much head-snapping EV news coming from Washington that I don’t even know where to start, but I’ll share some of the highlights with you.
I watched President Biden’s speech to the joint session of Congress on April 28, and I was dazzled to see the role that electric vehicles play in his plans. He put EVs front and center and mentioned them multiple times. He repeated his commitment from the campaign to building 500,000 charging stations so we can “own the electric car market.” And then for emphasis, said that the American Jobs Plan (which includes a whopping $174 billion investment in transportation electrification over a decade) would enable us to “lead the world in the production of electric vehicles and batteries.”
On Earth Day, he committed the United States to a 50% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030. While he didn’t mention EVs by name, we know that there is no way to get there without a dramatic surge in electric vehicles fueled by clean energy.
That same day, the administration announced a reversal of the Trump-era rule that California would not be able to set its own rigorous air pollution rules. This includes the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate, which requires automakers to sell ZEVs. This is huge news and has been the subject of litigation by California and the states that have adopted its air quality rules for several years.
In January, Plug In America outlined our 2021 federal policy priorities, including calling for President Biden to set a goal of putting a plug on every new car and truck by the end of this decade. This past week, 12 governors (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington) followed our lead. They asked Biden to phase out the sale of any gas-powered vehicles by 2035, which would be a bold step in the fight against climate change. If you live in any of these states, you might consider sending a nice thank you note to your governor.
You may recall that Plug In America recently called for the creation of a White House EV Czar. Now, there IS one, the senior director for transportation at the Council on Environmental Quality. We just had the pleasure of meeting with him and his colleagues last week on Zoom to share EV driver views on some of their significant initiatives, such as the extension of the federal EV purchase tax credit and plans for building out charging.
So we are doing a crazy lot of important work right now, but we are far from done. Much of this must still get passed through Congress. If you haven’t yet, please contact your representatives in Congress and tell them to support the American Jobs Plan. And stay tuned; we will likely need your help in other ways over the coming months to get this over the finish line.
Joel Levin is the executive director of Plug In America.