Chad Duppstadt: U.S. on verge of major EV moment
As a U.S. Army veteran, I’m not someone that most would expect to speak up about electric cars and transportation. I am no far-left environmentalist. However, I believe we should all be good stewards of our earth, and that EVs are a clear path toward a cleaner planet while advancing American energy independence. Our country cannot miss out on the current momentum to improve our planet and advance our national security.
Our world currently sits in a volatile state, and energy security is a major concern of mine. Today, the United States accounts for one-fifth of the daily global oil supply, making us the largest consumer of oil in the world. More than 70% of that oil goes to powering our transportation system.
Our transportation system drives, literally and figuratively, nearly every aspect of our economy and our daily lives. We’ve seen throughout history the ripples that gas shortages can send out, impacting everything from the groceries to holiday travel to vacation trips to the beach. Current oil markets are shaky and subject to price spikes that the U.S. can do very little to avoid or adjust.
Oil markets are dominated by OPEC and Russia, countries that oppose our American ideals, threaten our economic sovereignty and disrupt our foreign policy priorities. The Unites States spends $81 billion every year to protect oil supplies in the Persian Gulf alone.
Transitioning to EVs is the United States’ best chance to break out of oil’s stronghold and swap reliance on unpredictable petroleum for more resilient, domestically produced electricity.
EVs produce no tailpipe emissions, improving our air quality and public health. EVs provide reduced maintenance costs and significant fuel savings to drivers. America’s current auto sector supports 9.9 million jobs and generates nearly $1 trillion each year. Production of EVs offers the U.S. a chance to maintain leadership in auto manufacturing and create the workforce of tomorrow. Building, driving and charging electric vehicles in the U.S. represents job opportunities across the entire EV supply chain — from mining minerals for EV batteries to rolling cars off assembly lines.
But simply importing EVs and batteries won’t strengthen our national security. We can’t just trade Middle Eastern oil for Chinese batteries.
As a nation, we have already taken the first steps to maintain leadership in transportation and manufacturing. The House of Representatives recently passed the Build Back Better act , building on the initiatives signed into law by President Biden in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).
In the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the U.S. has committed to meeting the EV moment by investing $5 billion to build out a nationwide charging network; $2.5 billion in grants for EV charging stations, focusing on disadvantaged and rural communities; $2.5 billion for upgrading aging, dirty school buses with electric ones; and $6.1 billion in grants for EV battery processing, manufacturing and recycling.
These are promising first steps in the transition to EVs. We are closer than ever to meeting this EV moment and ditching our oil dependency. However, we need bolder action and firmer commitments to establish the U.S. jobs, security, and other benefits that a fully electrified transportation system will bring. We must emphasize to all levels of government that programs and laws encouraging, not discouraging, EV purchases are needed. We must modernize our outdated power grids to sustain the growing energy demand while protecting us from those wishing to do us harm. We must also find efficient means to transport alternative energy sources like wind and solar across long distances.
The Build Back Better Act, and the EV provisions it includes, cannot die in the Senate. Our senators must see this act through Congress and into law and ensure that America is properly funded and prepared to meet our EV moment. At home, Governor Tom Wolf and our legislators must join states from across the country in transitioning our most fuel intensive vehicles to American-built and American-powered EVs.
EVs are coming fast, and we need to be faster to meet this moment and come out on top. There’s no time to waste. Let’s get EVs across the finish line.