Andy Levin And AOC Are Working To Tear Down A Barrier For Consumers Interested In Buying An Electric Vehicle

When Trump first got to the White House, he saw infrastructure spending as a perfect way to transfer taxpayer dollars into his own pocket and the pockets of his campaign donors-- until Pelosi and Schumer told him that isn't the way it works. So he colored on his campaign promises of rebuilding American infrastructure. He now sees infrastructure as building his useless wall on the southern border.

Last week, two of Congress' best members, freshmen Andy Levin (D-MI) and AOC (D-NY) introduced the Electric Vehicles (EV) Freedom Act, H.R. 5770. The purpose is to create a comprehensive nationwide network of high-speed electric vehicle chargers along America’s highways within five years. Yesterday, Levin told his constituents that "When it comes to purchasing an electric vehicle, many consumers are worried about the lack of public charging stations, especially along the highway. But the EV Freedom Act will ensure that drivers along the National Highway System will have ready access to charging stations that can power up their EV in the shortest time technology allows. It’s time to bring our highway system into the 21st century."

He wrote that the bill offers the opportunity to eliminate barriers to consumers who ate interesting these cars and paving the way for rapid mass adoption of electric vehicles. "This transformational legislation will not only help reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change, but it will also create thousands of good-paying automotive and infrastructure jobs. Jobs that are created through the EV Freedom Act will adhere to Buy American and prevailing wage requirements to protect the hardworking people behind America’s new EV future. And, it will make sure our poor communities and communities of color are included in both the new green infrastructure and job opportunities."

On introducing the bill, AOC said that "Cars, above all else, have historically represented America's problem with dirty oil. Establishing a nation-wide network of electric vehicles charging stations helps us reduce emissions, creates good paying jobs, and will help transition the U.S. economy to a cleaner future."

Specifically, the EV Freedom Act:
Establishes a comprehensive, nationwide network of high-speed EV chargers within 5 years;
Helps secure the automotive and infrastructure jobs of the future and create thousands of good-paying jobs with robust Buy America and prevailing wage requirements to protect the hardworking Americans who will build an EV future;
Ensures the chargers built along the National Highway System keep up with new technology to achieve a simple goal-- fully power up EVs in the time it takes to fill up gas and diesel tanks;
Promotes interoperability so drivers don’t have to fear that chargers won’t be compatible with their cars; and
Prioritizes accessibility by guaranteeing that payment methods are secure, convenient, and equal access, and that all charging stations are ADA compliant.

The EV Freedom Act directs the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Energy to devise a plan to create the network of EV chargers, submit the plan to Congress and create the network of EV chargers within five years.

The EV Freedom Act has the support of a diverse group of labor, environment and climate groups, including:

Blue Green Alliance, League of Conservation Voters, Union of Concerned Scientists, Sierra Club, Earthjustice, Ecology Center, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC), Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), United Steelworkers (USW), United Automobile Workers (UAW) and the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE).

The immediate co-sponsors were Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA). Yesterday I spoke with several members who I know are big boosters of electric vehicles, like Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who had written a similar bill when he was in the Maryland state legislature, Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Ro Khanna (D-CA), who all told me they are either going to sign on or are studying it and are likely to sign on. In fact, Tom Suozzi, many of whose Long Island constituents, are commuters, was the first to co-sponsor the bill yesterday... followed by Ro Khanna just moments later.

I also asked some of the top progressive candidates who are likely to be in Congress next year and will be the ones to get this passed, since McConnell is likely to block it from being debated in the Senate in 2020. I recall telephoning Mike Siegel once when he was on a picket line at a car factory supporting local strikers. So I asked him. "This is what the fight against climate change looks like: we must rebuild the American economy, piece by piece, to allow for a sustainable future. Representatives Levin and Ocasio-Cortez speak for all of us, by fighting for the infrastructure we need for electric vehicles. We know America can do this. 100 years ago we provided electricity to rural America. Under FDR we rebuilt our electric grid through the New Deal. Eisenhower built the interstate highway system. And now, as we face climate change and massive wealth inequality, we need a new generation of federal programs that will create good new jobs and protect our planet. I look forward to pushing these types of efforts forward when I join the House in 2021."

Goal ThermometerJon Hoadley represents Kalamazoo in the Michigan state legislature and he's likely to be the next member of Congress from the southwest corner of the state. He's very enthusiastic about Levin's and AOC's bill. "The Electric Vehicles Freedom Act is a common sense step in the right direction toward transitioning the U.S. away from fossil fuels and toward a cleaner future. Frankly, it should have been done years ago. By establishing a nation-wide network of electric vehicles charging stations, the EV Freedom Act will help us reduce emissions, create good paying jobs, and provide the much needed infrastructure to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels."

This legislation, if passed and signed, will be amazing news for Indiana's economy. We have two candidates running there, Jim Harper, the newest candidate endorsed by Blue America, is very excited about it. His district in northwest Indiana would benefit immensely. "The EV Freedom Act," he told me yesterday, "would be a boon to the working families of Northwest Indiana. The proposal will not only help us kick our addiction to dirty petroleum, but it will also help create good-paying, union jobs. Green infrastructure and technology are the future for our region, particularly in light of a history of industrial pollution that has fallen disproportionately hard on communities of color."

And Jennifer Christie, who is running in a more swingy district north of Indianapolis, is just as excited as Jim. "I love it!," she said when she read about the bill.  "In October, our campaign released a Climate Agenda calling exactly for this and other measures to decarbonize to zero emissions. Comprehensive Electric Vehicle (EV) infrastructure is essential to solving the transportation component of the climate crisis. What’s more, this will create jobs while we upgrade our highway infrastructure. We also have the opportunity to invest in rural communities and Tribal Nations as we install EV charging networks; There are opportunities to invest in solar projects around charging stations as well as local commerce that will surely develop along the EV grid. In addition to the boost EV infrastructure will give to electric car usage, it will also protect water quality. Gasoline is typically stored in underground storage tanks (USTs). Leaks, spills, and overfills from gasoline service stations are one of the most common sources of ground water pollution according to the EPA. Approximately half of the American population relies on ground water as their drinking source. With an eventual goal of replacing gasoline stations with EV charging stations, imagine the good that we can do for the environment and the economy. I am glad to see this bill introduced. We need more legislative action on climate that directly helps to reduce carbon pollution. Let’s support this bill by calling our current representatives. If I have the opportunity to vote on it, count me as a YES!"

Morgan Harper, the progressive running for the Columbus, Ohio congressional seat, realizes how important this bill will be for central Ohio. She told me this morning that she strongly supports the legislation. "Not only is it critical in our fight against climate change to invest in Electric Vehicle infrastructure, but it provides auto manufacturers, many of whom have a strong presence in Ohio, the clear incentive to invest more, sooner, in their Electric Vehicle programs."

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