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Our Post-Carbon Future Depends on Electric Vehicles—Our Congress Controls Their Economic Lifeline

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There are a few competing electric vehicle-related bills kicking around Capitol Hill right now. One, a bipartisan bill aptly titled the Driving America Forward Act, would keep the country moving in the right direction to address the worldwide climate crisis. Another, dubbed the Fairness for Every Driver Act, would slam us into reverse.

The forward-looking bill proposes to extend a tax credit—currently pegged at $7,500—for electric vehicles (EVs) that currently phases out once an automaker has sold 200,000 of them. Tesla and General Motors have already exceeded the cap. Introduced in April, the legislation would raise the cap to 600,000 vehicles per manufacturer, providing a $7,000 tax credit to purchasers after the original 200,000-unit threshold is met. It is sponsored by two Democrats from Michigan, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, along with Republicans Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Susan Collins of Maine.

Stabenow says the legislation—which has the support of 60 organizations and companies, including all of the automakers—will reduce toxic emissions, combat carbon pollution and help create American jobs. She’s right on all counts.

The backward-looking bill, introduced last fall and again in February by Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso, would eliminate the EV tax credit altogether. Barrasso argues that the tax credit is costing Americans billions of dollars by shortchanging the government of tax revenue and that the EV market is “well established,” so it no longer needs federal help.

Barrasso’s efforts are backed by a coalition of some three dozen faux free-market groups organized by the American Energy Alliance, the advocacy arm of the Institute for Energy Research. The groups sent a letter to Congress calling on lawmakers to oppose raising the tax credit cap. “Electric vehicles, like all other products in the marketplace,” they wrote, “should succeed or fail on their own merits” without government assistance. The letter also cites a discredited 2018 Manhattan Institute study that inaccurately asserts that gasoline-powered vehicles are cleaner than EVs.

Given that the transportation sector has surpassed the energy sector as the leading source of U.S. carbon emissions—and that transportation sector emissions rose last........

© Common Dreams