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