Michigan Senate candidate Mike Rogers abandons support for electric vehicle production

Held Tuesday, 11/10/15, former U.S. Congressman and visiting lecturer Joe Schwarz hosted a conversation with former Congressmen Mike Rogers and David Camp.

Republican former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, who recently moved from Florida back to Michigan to run for U.S. Senate, wrote an op-ed published in the Detroit Free Press on Sept. 16 in which he attacked President Joe Biden’s efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and increase the use of electric vehicles. During his 14 years in Congress, however, Rogers vocally supported and voted to fund the transition to electric vehicles.

Rogers is one of several Republicans hoping to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in the 2024 election. The Cook Political Report rates the race competitive and leaning Democratic.

His commentary, under the title “Biden’s EV plan will kill Michigan jobs,” repeated fossil fuel industry talking points, arguing that the move to clean energy vehicles would hurt workers, undermine national security, and be bad for the environment.

Among his arguments was the claim that, because electric vehicles are more efficient to build, they will imperil Michigan’s manufacturing industry: “Estimates show that over 175,000 people in Michigan are employed directly for auto companies or parts suppliers, and since building electric vehicles requires at least 30% less labor, that could mean tens of thousands of good paying manufacturing jobs here in Michigan could be eliminated.”

As Axios reported on Aug. 23, a 2022 study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that battery cell production actually makes electric car creation more labor intensive than the manufacture of combustion engine vehicles.

According to OpenSecrets, Rogers has accepted more than $345,000 in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry over the course of his political career.

Rogers made similar arguments against electric vehicles in a Sept. 25 Fox News appearance: “EVs will have a place. But why put all these people out of work? Why change to a car that people don’t want to buy when there are other alternatives that are better for the environment, better for our economy, and better for our national security?”

In 2008, Rogers backed a bill that included $25 billion in loans to help automobile manufacturers convert their plants to build electric and hybrid vehicles. He defended the provision and, according to Reuters, talked up an all-electric future with more reliable EV batteries: “One day when that first 40 miles is all electric — the first commute won’t use any gasoline at all. That’s what we hope to get to.”

A year later, he joined Democratic Michigan Rep. Sandy Levin and others in a letter to the House Appropriations Committee backing $25 million more for the program. They wrote:

This incentive program will make it more economically feasible for U.S. auto manufacturers and part suppliers to go forward with the retooling of their facilities by providing low-interest loans for the cost of retooling a manufacturing facility in the U.S. to produce advanced technology vehicles (such as hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles, advanced direct injection diesels, and fuel cell vehicles) or their key components. … Investments in advanced technology vehicle facilities will create jobs for American workers by ensuring that the vehicles of the future are made in the United States, reduce our consumption of oil and move our country more quickly towards energy independence.

A Rogers campaign spokesperson told the American Independent Foundation that Rogers’ positions are not contradictory: “Mike has publicly said that he supports electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles, and even drives a hybrid himself. What he doesn’t support is a federal mandate that forces Americans into buying a car they don’t want and can’t afford.”

On Sept.17, Rogers backed the striking United Auto Workers, telling Politico, “Autoworkers are crucial to our economy and after years of concessions, they deserve a fair deal.” His record in Congress is one of repeatedly attacking the union, including criticizing its 2007 strike and voting against the interest of workers.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.