Congressional Bill Would Create A National EV Charging Network

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Electrifying the transportation sector is a key component of transforming the energy economy for the 21st century. The deployment of electric vehicles (EVs) gains momentum. Passage of the EV Freedom Act will lay the groundwork for a network of EV charging stations across the country.

A bill pending in Congress would boost the electric vehicle industry in America. Reps. Andy Levin and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced the EV Freedom Act which will develop a nationwide infrastructure of high-speed electric vehicle charging stations within five years. It will also create jobs, reduce vehicle emissions, and combat climate change.

The EV Freedom Act directs both the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Energy to create a plan to create a national network of EV chargers, submit the plan to Congress, and create the network within five years. The bill has Buy America and prevailing wage requirements provisions that will help create jobs. It also requires that chargers built along the national highway system keep up with new technology so that EVs can eventually be charged up in the time it takes to fill conventional cars with gas or diesel.

“If we are to avoid the doomsday scenario of climate change, we have to transform our transportation system and end our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Rep. Levin in a statement. “By doing so, we have the tremendous opportunity to supercharge our economy and create the jobs of the future, further unify our country in a sustainable way and lead the world in green energy infrastructure.”

“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,” said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez.

The EV market expanding globally and nationally 

The EV market is expanding globally. From 2017 to 2018, the EV deployment increased by 63 percent. The U.S. is the third-largest EV market, behind China and Europe, and accounted for 22 percent of all EVs on the road. The number of charging units globally increased by 44 percent from 2017 to 2018. There were over 68,000 EV charging units in the U.S. as of May 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Private charging points accounted for more than 90 percent of the charging installations.

The number of EVs on the road globally increased from 2.3 million in 2018 to 7.9 million in 2019. As of March 31, 2019, there were 1.18 million EVs on the road in the U.S. Total sales increased from 2017 to 2018 by 81 percent. However, EV sales in the first quarter of 2019 were just 1.5 percent, representing only a fraction of all new car sales.

Having a national network of charging stations will boost EV sales. “A national network of publicly available charging stations is necessary to make EV’s both affordable and practical for American families,” Elizabeth Gore, Senior Vice President, Political Affairs, Environmental Defense Fund, said. 

The role of EVs in mitigating climate change

EVs play an important role in limiting warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, the limit scientists say is needed to avoid the worst climate change impacts. EVs produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions in general than conventional vehicles do, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The reason why is that there are fewer emissions for electricity generation than burning gasoline or diesel. The benefits of EVs in terms of lowering GHG emissions will be greater if EV deployment “takes place in parallel with the decarbonization of power systems,” according to the International Energy Agency.

“We must electrify transportation as quickly as possible and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels to tackle the climate crisis, and this type of investment ensures that the shift to clean transportation is built by hard-working Americans,” said Will Anderson, Sierra Club’s Associate Director of Legislative/Administrative Advocacy.

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