Quantcast

Trump and Big Oil Want to Pull the Plug on the Electric Car Market

Energy
Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

By Grant Smith and Bill Walker

President Trump's proposed budget for 2020 would eliminate the federal tax credit for buyers of electric vehicles. The oil industry is backing the proposal, as well as a bill to impose a "user fee" — that is, a tax — on drivers of electric vehicles and trucks.


Big Oil is panicked by the looming end to the domination of the U.S. transportation system by the internal combustion engine. The fear is justified.

A few years ago, the oil industry was shrugging off the threat of electric vehicles, predicting that EVs would reach only 5 percent of global market share by the mid-2030s. Other analysts were far more bullish, projecting that EVs would have up to a third of the market by that time.

According to EnergyWire, EV sales in the U.S. grew by more than 80 percent last year. Energy Innovation expects EVs to make up to 75 percent of sales by 2050 — more than 15 million electric cars and trucks a year. Big Oil may be trying to slow the shift but can read the writing on the wall: Oil companies are investing heavily in startups building electric vehicle charging stations.

EVs are already cheaper to drive than gas guzzlers. Comparing a fully electric Chevy Bolt to a car that gets 25 mpg at $2.50 per gallon, the Illinois Citizens Utility Board found that the Bolt would cost almost $800 less to drive per year than the conventional car.

And they're going to get much cheaper to buy. The price of batteries for EVs dropped by 80 percent from 2010 to 2017. As that trend continues, Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts the costs of buying and operating an EV will be cheaper than comparable gasoline-powered cars by the middle of next decade.

That's a win-win for the climate and for public health. Here's why.

  • EVs are essential for fighting climate change. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), almost one-fifth of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions comes from cars and trucks — 19 pounds of emissions for every gallon of gas burned. To head off the worst impacts of climate change, we must not only switch to renewable energy sources to generate electricity but also slash tailpipe pollution. UCS says an electric vehicle is responsible for fewer emissions than a car that gets 80 mpg.
  • EVs save lives. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, vehicles kill 53,000 people annually prematurely from particulate or microscopic soot pollution. The California Energy Commission says putting five million EVs on the road — about one-third of the vehicles currently on the road in the state — would save $640 million in health costs from reduced air pollution.

The oil industry and other supporters of ending the EV tax credit say they're only trying to level the playing field. But compare the EV tax credit, which currently totals about $400 million per year, to federal subsidies to the oil industry, which total $4.6 billion a year. Let's end taxpayer handouts to the likes of ExxonMobil and Chevron instead of penalizing car buyers who want to save money, lives and the planet.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) speaks during the North American Building Trades Unions Conference at the Washington Hilton April 10, 2019 in Washington, DC. Zach Gibson / Getty Images

Colorado senator and 2020 hopeful Michael Bennet introduced his plan to combat climate change Monday, in the first major policy rollout of his campaign. Bennet's plan calls for the establishment of a "Climate Bank," using $1 trillion in federal spending to "catalyze" $10 trillion in private spending for the U.S. to transition entirely to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Read More Show Less
Foto-Rabe / Pixabay

When Trump's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan in August 2018, its own estimates said the reduced regulations could lead to 1,400 early deaths a year from air pollution by 2030.

Now, the EPA wants to change the way it calculates the risks posed by particulate matter pollution, using a model that would lower the death toll from the new plan, The New York Times reported Monday. Five current or former EPA officials familiar with the plan told The Times that the new method would assume there is no significant health gain by lowering air pollution levels below the legal limit. However, many public health experts say that there is no safe level of particulate matter exposure, which has long been linked to heart and lung disease.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A crate carrying one of the 33 lions rescued from circuses in Peru and Columbia is lifted onto the back of a lorry before being transported to a private reserve on April 30, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Animal welfare advocates are praising soon-to-be introduced legislation in the U.S. that would ban the use of wild animals in traveling circuses.

Read More Show Less
A tornado Monday in Union City, Oklahoma. TicToc by Bloomberg / YouTube screenshot

Extreme weather spawned 18 tornadoes across five states Monday, USA Today reported. Tornadoes were reported in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arizona, but were not as dangerous as forecasters had initially feared, the Associated Press reported.

Read More Show Less
A woman walks in front of her water-logged home in Sriwulan village, Sayung sub-district of Demak regency, Central Java, Indonesia on Feb. 2, 2018. Siswono Toyudho / Anadolu Agency /Getty Images

A new study has more than doubled the worst-case-scenario projection for sea level rise by the end of the century, BBC News reported Monday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Matt Cardy / Stringer / Getty Images

The Guardian is changing the way it writes about environmental issues.

Read More Show Less
Blueberry yogurt bark. SEE D JAN / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Having nutritious snacks to eat during the workday can help you stay energized and productive.

Read More Show Less
A 2017 flood in Elk Grove, California. Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources

By Tara Lohan

It's been the wettest 12 months on record in the continental United States. Parts of the High Plains and Midwest are still reeling from deadly, destructive and expensive spring floods — some of which have lasted for three months.

Mounting bills from natural disasters like these have prompted renewed calls to reform the National Flood Insurance Program, which is managed by Federal Emergency Management Agency and is now $20 billion in debt.

Read More Show Less