Electric Vehicle Tax Credit Hangs in the Balance

December 17, 2018 | 11:21 am
Photo: Oregon Convention Center/Flickr
Josh Goldman
Former Contributor

I’m back from my hiatus as a full-time dad and am reengaged in the biggest. transportation. policy debates. in Washington, D.C.! Super exciting, I know.

Today, I’m reporting on the legislative tug-of-war over the $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles. Fossil fuel interests on one end, literally everyone else on the other. This fight arose when the suits over at Exxon, Shell, and Koch Industries became worried about the potential of electric vehicles (EVs) to mess with their 90 percent share of transportation fuel in the U.S. And you know what? They should be worried. The EV market is small but growing fast, and there have been tons of production milestones and new model releases over the past quarter.

So, the suits gather around and hatch a plan. The first step is easy. Poke a bunch of holes in the earth until a black goo comes out, refine it, and sell a LOT of it – like millions and millions of barrels – every day. Second, pay geeks-for-hire to produce analysis that skews data to reach misleading results about any policy or technology that may affect sales. Then, aggressively fund advocacy groups with innocuous names like Americans for Prosperity and American Commitment to push the bogus analysis along with talking points on the importance of maintaining a free-market for transportation fuels. (This step both distances yourself from the court of public opinion and masks any mention of maintaining the oil-powered status quo). The final piece of the puzzle is to spend an egregious amount of money on a politician – preferably a Senator – in hopes they will turn your holiday policy wish list into, oh I don’t know, maybe a bill called the Fairness for Every Driver Act, which would eliminate the EV tax credit and slap EV owners with a user fee. Thanks Senator Barrasso (R-Wyo)!

Fortunately for everyone on the side of science, groups like UCS and our allies recognize the need for clean electricity to replace oil as the dominant transportation fuel. Armed with peer-reviewed studies, widespread public support, and a couple well-written blog posts, advocates are pushing to improve the tax credit so that it can advance the EV market even further.  There are a few ideas about how to best do this, including the Electric CARS Act, which would extend the tax credit for 10 years and has been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Merkley (D-OR), Heinrich (D-NM), and Cortez Masto (D-NV), and in the House by Reps. Welch (D-VT) and Rosen (D-NV).

Congress has a couple weeks before they adjourn and toss any un-passed bills in the trash just like my kid’s 5-week old finger paintings. Whether the EV tax credit will be improved, eliminated, or untouched is unclear. What is clear is that you can get involved in this policy debate by taking 2 minutes to place a phone call to your Senator and House Representative in support of the EV tax credit.

Call 833-216-1727 (or 833-513-5863 if you live in California or Nevada) to support the EV tax credit

Politicians take constituent calls seriously, and they can move the needle on how hard your elected officials will fight for clean air, combating climate change and supporting the American EV industry. You can remind whoever answers the phone about the science behind the benefits of electrifying transportation. For example; an EV produces the emissions equivalent of a gasoline car that gets 80 MPG; driving on electricity can save you almost $800 per year in fuel costs and more on scheduled maintenance; EVs offer a quieter, safe ride; EVs are great in the snow and inclement weather; and driving an EV means never stopping for gas at that one gross gas station!

Want to stay up-to-date on future EV policy debates? Text “EV” to 662266. You will be opted in for occasional general UCS updates in addition to our messages especially for EV enthusiasts.