Broad coalition shows electric cars can bring relief at pump

With gasoline prices already exceeding $4 gallon in some parts of the country, American drivers need more than ever choices to relieve their pain at the pump. One of these most promising solutions is the electric car which has the potential to deliver the equivalent of $1 gallon for the life of the car.

But ensuring that every American can have this choice is far from ensured.

The policy road map is clear, thanks to the new Center for Climate and Energy Solutions’ Action Plan to Integrate Plug-in Electric Vehicles with the U.S. Electric Grid.

Unfortunately, the political road map is not as clear with ideologues in Congress unfairly attacking electric cars like the Chevy Volt, questioning government support for clean energy manufacturing and working to undermine the historic proposed 54.5 mpg standards

But by working together on implementing the Action Plan, we can ensure opponents of electric cars do not succeed in holding us back from moving beyond oil.

The text of my full remarks at the launch of the Action Plan in Washington D.C. is below:

REMARKS BY ROLAND J. HWANG

TRANSPORTATION PROGRAM DIRECTOR

FOR THE NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL

AT THE RELEASE OF THE

CENTER FOR CLIMATE AND ENERGY SOLUTIONS REPORT

AN ACTION PLAN TO INTEGRATE PLUG-IN ELECTRIC VEHICLES

WITH THE U.S. ELECTRICAL GRID

MARCH 12, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C.

GOOD AFTERNOON.  IT’S A PLEASURE TO BE HERE AT THE LAUNCH OF THIS IMPORTANT REPORT. IT SHOULD COME AS NO SURPRISE THAT MA NY ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS, LIKE THE NATURAL RESOURCE DEFENSE COUNCIL, STRONGLY SUPPORT ELECTRIC CARS AS A CRITICAL STRATEGY TO CURB AIR POLLUTION AND CUT OUR DANGEROUS DEPENDENCY ON OIL.

BUT I ALSO WANTED TO HIGHLIGHT OTHER WAYS ELECTRIFICATION CAN HELP MOVE THIS COUNTRY FORWARD.

FIRST, ELECTRIFICATION IS ABOUT REAL SOLUTIONS TO HIGH GAS COSTS. AS MANY ENERGY EXPERTS HAVE NOTED, THE U.S. HAS 2% OF THE WORLD OIL RESERVES SO WE CAN’T MAKE A MEANINGFUL DENT IN WORLD OIL PRICES. INSTEAD, THE REAL SOLUTION IS TO CUT OUR APPETITE FOR OIL BY PROVIDING CONSUMERS REAL CHOICES.

AT TODAY’S AVERAGE ELECTRICITY PRICES, ELECTRIC CARS ARE THE EQUIVALENT OF FILLING UP ON $1 A GALLON A GASOLINE FOR THE LIFE OF THE CAR. THAT’S A POWERFUL CONSUMER VALUE PROPOSITION.

HOWEVER, AS THE C2ES ACTION PLAN POINTS OUT, WE NEED A CONSISTENT REGULATORY STRUCTURE TO ENSURE THAT THIS LOW-COST CONSUMER VALUE PROPOSITION IS REALIZED WHILE MAINTAINING THE RELIABILITY OF THE ELECTRICITY GRID.  ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT WAYS TO DO THIS IS FOR UTILITIES TO OFFER RATES THAT DISCOURAGE CHARGING ON-PEAK AND ENCOURAGE CHARGING OFF-PEAK WHEN THERE’S PLENTY OF EXISTING SPARE CAPACITY.

SECOND, ELECTRIC VEHICLES ARE ABOUT INVESTING IN AMERICA.  BY PUTTING MILLIONS OF ELECTRIC CARS ON THE ROAD, WE CAN AVOID SENDING BILLIONS OF DOLLARS OVERSEAS TO IMPORT OIL,..OIL THAT IS GETTING COSTLIER, RISKIER AND DIRTIER.  INSTEAD, WE CAN KEEP THOSE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN THE U.S. AND INVEST IN MANUFACTURING CLEAN ELECTRICITY AND ADVANCED VEHICLE TECHNOLOGIES.

TO ACCELERATE THIS TRANSITION, WE SHOULD BE INVESTING OUR PUBLIC DOLLARS IN MAKING ELECTRIC CARS MORE AFFORDABLE AND UBIQUITOUS.  AND WE SHOULD END THE $4 BILLION IN TAX SUBSIDIES TO AN OIL INDUSTRY THAT MADE $137 BILLION IN PROFITS LAST YEAR.

MY THIRD AND FINAL POINT IS THAT ELECTRIC VEHICLES ARE ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER  ACROSS PARTY AND IDEOLOGICAL LINES TO MOVE AMERICA FORWARD. ONE OF THE MOST REMARKABLE THINGS ABOUT ELECTRIC VEHICLES IS THAT IT BRINGS TOGETHER A “BIG TENT” OF STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS, AUTO MAKERS AND ENVIRONMENTALISTS, BUSINESSES AND LABOR, CONSUMER GROUPS AND ENERGY SECURITY GROUPS.

BUT LET’S BE FRANK. THERE ARE SOME FOR WHATEVER REASONS APPEAR TO BE ROOTING FOR THIS TECHNOLOGY TO FAIL.

WE SIMPLY CAN NOT LET THIS HAPPEN. ELECTRIC CARS ARE TOO IMPORTANT TO OUR NATION’S FUTURE. AS THE CEO OF GM, DAN ACKERSON, SAID IN RECENT TESTIMONY IN FRONT OF CONGRESS, GM “…DID NOT ENGINEER THE VOLT TO BE A POLITICAL PUNCHING BAG.”

BUILDING THE ELECTRIC VEHICLE MARKET IS A HUGELY CHALLENGING TASK. THE C2ES ACTION PLAN IS A ROADMAP FOR SUCCESS. BY WORKING TOGETHER, WE CAN CUT CONSUMERS FUEL BILLS, CREATE THOUSANDS OF NEW JOBS, AND CURB EMISSIONS OF DANGEROUS CARBON POLLUTION.

About the Authors

Roland Hwang

Director, Energy & Transportation program

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