Eleven facts about clean vehicles to counter gas guzzling lobbyists

The average American household spends about $175 a month on gasoline. That means billions of dollars to oil companies, refiners, and others — and a huge incentive for them to block policies that move America to clean, zero-emissions electric vehicles.

We’re already seeing a coordinated push to stop President Biden and Congress from boosting American clean cars, trucks and buses — even though these policies will create jobs and a more just and equitable economy, clean the air, and are popular with the public.

EDF experts have assembled these facts to counter the lobbyists who want to make sure Americans keep paying at the pump.

1. Moving to clean electric vehicles will help America win the race for good jobs today and tomorrow. 

The question isn’t electric vehicles versus gas-powered vehicles — the global industry is already moving to EVs, and spending at least $257 billion this decade to make the switch. The issue is whether American workers will get these jobs. We can build these vehicles in places like Hamtramck, MI and Spartanburg, SC or have them shipped to us from Hamburg and Shanghai. Switching to zero-emissions electric trucks, buses, and cars will create jobs today and help us compete with Europe and China in this rapidly expanding market.

Right now 95% of zero emission heavy duty vehicles are made in China, and Europe is making major investments. We need to act if we are going to ensure U.S. manufacturing is competitive in this growing zero emitting vehicles market.

2. Building more electric cars, trucks, and buses here in the U.S. can mean hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs.

Companies in the clean cars, trucks, buses industry and EV battery supply chain are already in operation and development all around the country. From Michigan to South Carolina, from Missouri to Texas, companies are building zero emission cars, EV batteries and charging infrastructure. As the shop chairman of United Auto Worker 598 recently said, companies like General Motors that are powered by union labor being on the forefront of this shift will mean “increased sales and customers… it means more jobs.”

3. EVs are much better for the climate. 

Electric vehicles in the US emit less climate pollution than fully gasoline-powered cars, even when powered by today’s mixed sources of electric power. Their engines are just much more efficient. And as we move to 100% clean power nationwide, EVs will be even better. That transition is already underway: 1 in 3 Americans are already getting service from a utility that’s moving to 100% clean electric generation.

Transportation is the biggest source of climate pollution in the US — and switching to zero emissions EVs are a big part of the solution. In the face of damaging and costly storms, floods, heatwaves and wildfires, we need action.

4. Zero emissions vehicles mean healthier communities and a more equitable America.

Fully electric cars have zero tailpipe emissions, so transitioning trucks, buses, emergency vehicles, taxis and ridesharing fleets to electric vehicles will reduce air pollution for everyone. This means fewer hospitalizations related to asthma and associated health problems — and can especially benefit people of color who, due to discrimination in housing, zoning and economic opportunity, more often live near ports, highways and other industrial sites where they are more likely to be exposed to harmful pollution from diesel and gasoline-powered vehicle traffic.

5. Achievable: The speed of technology advancement, along with investments and other smart policies, will let us reach our goal of all zero emission new cars by 2035 and new trucks and buses by 2040.

More than 175 zero-pollution truck, bus, car and SUV models are in production or development for the U.S. market. Companies from Amazon and FedEx to Pepsi are looking to switch to clean vehicles. Every major car manufacturer is making significant investments in electric cars, with many aiming for a fully electric future. General Motors recently announced a goal of eliminating tailpipe pollution from all of its cars and pickup trucks by 2035. The faster we move, the faster we can put people to work building the cars of today and tomorrow 

U.S. companies have proven time and time again, they can rise to meet any challenge — but they need a predictable business climate to scale up production and plan for the long term.

6. With investment and focus, our power grid can manage and support all demand from electric vehicles.

Growth in electric cars and trucks will increase electricity demand. This can help increase investments in clean electricity, bolstering American energy independence and a reliable energy grid. With smart charging, EVs can actually help grid operators integrate higher levels of renewable energy. Energy regulators, electric utilities and grid operators are well aware of this and are monitoring and investing in the clean vehicle transition in real time – and Congress must prioritize and support incentives and policies to increase both EV and clean electricity deployment to ensure we maximize the benefits EVs can offer.

A cleaner grid means less dependence on polluting power plants, which are most often located near communities of color and low-income communities. It also means increased expansion of cleaner sources like rooftop solar in these neighborhoods. This can create good jobs in areas where they are desperately needed..

7. Electric options expand consumer choice. 

Electric cars are being built and developed in as many varieties, from pick-ups to sports cars, as gasoline-powered cars. And their performance is better — some models can go from zero to sixty in 2.3 seconds, stats no gasoline-powered car off the lot can match.

Before too long, gas-powered cars will seem old-fashioned. Sure, some people will still enjoy their vintage cars. But technology moves quickly — and brings with it lower costs, higher performance and more fun.

8. Affordable: EVs costs are declining and will save consumers thousands on gas and other costs.

For years we’ve had debates about gas prices. With EV’s you pay zero at the gas station. Just about the only people arguing against the switch to EVs are the oil companies, refiners and their allies — they’re grasping to preserve their profits. Of course they want people to pay to fill up their cars with gasoline every week.

Analysts predict EVs will reach price parity with gasoline-powered cars by 2025. Research suggests that by 2030, the buyer of a new battery electric vehicle will save more than $7,000 over the life of the car compared to a gasoline-powered car. Our investments will also mean zero-emitting vehicles will be more affordable for local governments that want to create healthier communities.

9. We can produce cleaner car batteries in the USA and work to recycle their components.

As we build more clean cars, we should also make producing batteries cleaner. A report from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) says that the place where a battery is made has a lot to do with the amount of emissions from the manufacturing process. Batteries made in the US, with American manufacturing techniques, produce 65% less emissions than those currently made in China.* It’s another reason for policies to boost American production of electric vehicles and their components and create jobs here at home.

We should continue to increase battery life and recycling. USA Today reports that “researchers found that recycling car batteries on a large scale was ‘very promising’” and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory says that lithium-ion car batteries could last up to 15 years. 

*Vehicles with Chinese-made batteries are still cleaner than gas vehicles.

10. To combat child labor in the overseas mining industry, we need strong monitoring and to build more batteries here under US labor laws.

Mineral sourcing from countries with gross human rights abuses, including child labor, is unacceptable. But the solution isn’t sticking to a broken system of relying on polluting transportation that carries its own unacceptable human toll. Instead, we need standards supported by credible third-parties that verify minerals are being sourced sustainably and ethically. Those who are truly concerned about labor standards overseas should be advocating zero emission vehicle standards paired with domestic manufacturing incentive programs in the US.

11. The U.S. EPA and the State of California have clear authority to establish pollution safeguards that rely on the increasing availability of zero-emitting vehicles.

The Environmental Protection Agency has time tested authority under the Clean Air Act to adopt pollution standards that rely on the increasing availability of zero-emitting vehicles. California can set more protective standards for cars and trucks (and other states can adopt these standards).

Clean transportation is the future. It brings with it economic, health and environmental benefits. Still, lots of big interests make significant profits by ensuring that Americans open their wallets every week at the gas station. This gives us  a big fight ahead to secure a quick transition to EVs..  But it’s a fight we need to win.

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