With the $ 1.9 billion COVID bill signed into law, Senate Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is poised to tackle the next big challenge: President Joe Biden’s call for ‘ a massive infrastructure bill. As part of the package, Schumer said he plans to include his ambitious proposal to have every American exchange their gas-dirty car for an electric car.
“This is a bold new plan designed to accelerate America’s transition to all electric vehicles on the road, to develop a charging infrastructure and to grow American jobs through clean manufacturing,” Schumer said. The edge in a brief interview this week. “And the ultimate goal is that every car manufactured in America should be electric by 2030, and that every car on the road should be clean by 2040.”
The details of the ‘cash for clunkers’ style plan have not changed much since Schumer proposed it an op-ed in The New York Times late in 2019. But the political landscape has definitely shifted in favor of the Democrats and the idea has been revived. According to the proposal, everyone who exchanges an electric car will get a ‘significant’ discount on the point of sale, says Schumer. He will not say how much discount, but only that it will be ‘deep’. A spokesman later confirmed that they had discounts that were “more generous” than the current federal tax credit of $ 7,500.
He also wants to offer car manufacturers direct incentives to phase out their production of internal combustion engine vehicles and tax exemptions to property owners to install EV chargers at their homes or apartment buildings. Finally, he proposes to send direct subsidies to local governments to improve and expand the country’s network of EV charging stations. Schumer would use $ 45 billion in grants to upgrade the country’s charging infrastructure and $ 17 billion to encourage manufacturers to adapt their EV production facilities.
There are still details to work out, such as how much discount each car dealer gives discount and how to structure the plan so that the lowest income earners get the most cash back. Schumer estimates that the plan will cost $ 454 billion to implement in ten years, compared to the $ 2 billion Biden said he would spend about its infrastructure and climate proposal.
Biden would probably consider Schumer’s plan – there are elements of it already included in the president’s Build Back Better proposal – although a White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. Since taking office, Biden has signed an executive order to replace the government’s fleet of nearly 650,000 vehicles with all-electric models manufactured in the United States. And he has promised to spend billions of dollars to add more than half a million EV charging stations in the US.
Given the facts, Schumer is convinced that Biden will sell easily. “I did not sit down and discuss the whole matter with them,” Schumer said of the White House, “but yes, I think it will be part of the infrastructure plan.”
Since the announcement of the plan, Schumer has sought support from unions and automakers. So far, three powerful unions have endorsed the plan: the AFL-CIO, UAW and IBEW. With their purchase, the majority leader is convinced that the proposal will find an easier way to approval, even with Republicans who are largely opposed to anything arising from a Democrat’s desk. Yet he is optimistic that he can snatch away some Republican votes thanks to broad support for the electrification of the automotive industry.
“I’m excited about the content of the proposal,” Schumer said, “but I’m also excited about politics.”
There was criticism by advocates for transit who would rather see the amount of money spent on strengthening public transport infrastructure, especially at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a major decline in management. (The recently approved 2021 US bailout plan includes $ 30.5 billion for transportation.) The government should not spend money on incentives for car purchases, whether electric, they argue, as congestion and expansion make such a huge contribution to the greenhouse. gas emissions.
Schumer said he is currently making a “major investment in clean mass transportation,” which he also hopes to include in the Democratic infrastructure proposal. “Transit is an integral part of the way we are revolutionizing the way we move,” he said, although he did not want to say whether more money should be spent on public transport than his idea for gas-for-gas. electrical exchange. “I’m not going to compare. We have to do both. ”
Another possible problem for Schumer’s plan is the current state of the electrical network in the USA. Electric vehicles are just as green as their power source, and according to the US Energy Information Administration, 38 percent of the country’s power supply comes from natural gas, 23 percent comes from coal, 20 percent from nuclear power, and only 17 percent from renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric energy.
Schumer noted that while his proposal does not specifically address the electricity grid, he is a co-sponsor of the THRIVE Act, which calls for federal investments to promote renewable energy. Among the 83 co-sponsors are Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), co-authors of the Green New Deal.
The progressive wing of the Democratic Party has insisted on having Schumer sign at the Green New Deal, but he says he prefers his alternative approach. “The THRIVE agenda is a practice of the Green New Deal,” Schumer said.
Schumer would also not go so far as to say he would support a federal ban on the sale of gas-powered vehicles. The European Union has said it wants phase out gas engine sales by 2035, while some countries such as Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands said they would ban the sale of new gas engines much faster, by 2030. A number of U.S. states have signed on to similar timelines, including California, the country’s largest automotive market.
Major carmakers have also said they will sell only electric vehicles within the next 10 to 15 years, including Ford, General Motors, Volvo, Volkswagen and others. But Schumer declined to say whether he would support a national plan to phase out the sale of gas-powered cars, saying he prefers to use a carrot rather than a stick.
“Our proposal will do the best that can be adopted,” he said. “My goal is to bring about the boldest change in the law, and I think it’s kind of a lovely place to be.”
Today, anyone who buys an electric car is eligible for a $ 7,500 federal tax credit, in addition to any local tax credits that exist at the state level, depending on where they live. The incentive was created in 2009 by the Obama administration to encourage carmakers to accept electrification. It was also intended to help consumers reimburse the price of a new EV, many of which were (and still are) too expensive for most Americans.
But the credit was never meant to be permanent, and a cap of 200,000 vehicles sold was included. Once a car business passes that point, the tax credit slowly expires over a period of 18 months. In recent years, both Tesla and GM have reached the threshold of 200,000 vehicles and are beginning to phase out credit. But Schumer says the tax credit is aimed at ‘affluent’ people, while his plan applies to everyone in the economic spectrum, including ‘people who do not pay taxes.’
Electric cars are not the only battery-powered vehicles that change the way people get around. Electric scooters and bicycles have exploded in popularity in recent years, and environmentalists call them an even greener mode of transportation than cars. Recently, a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives that would give a 30 percent refundable tax credit for the purchase of a new e-bike, which Schumer said he would support.
“I would like to look at the wide variety of transportation,” he said. ‘We are currently looking at buses and metros for mass transport. And I want to make it as comprehensive as possible – scooters, everything. I’m a cyclist. It is of course very clean. ”
He added: “Things like this we want to expand and encourage.”