Republicans in Congress criticize EV program as Michigan gets grant for more stations - TAI News
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Congressional Republicans sent a letter to the departments of Energy and Transportation on Feb. 26 with complaints about the Biden administration’s allegedly ineffective program to build electric vehicle charging stations. Just 11 days earlier, the Michigan government had announced that it had received federal funds for a significant expansion of charging stations in the state.

The letter was released by the Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, including Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA), and Reps. Jeff Duncan (SC) and Morgan Griffith (VA).

“We have significant concerns that under your efforts American taxpayer dollars are being woefully mismanaged,” they wrote, adding, “Despite recent award announcements, little progress has been made in the buildout of electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure.”

The letter also characterized electric vehicles as expensive to insure and maintain and cost-prohibitive for many. The representatives requested further information on the ongoing deployment of charging stations from Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

On Feb. 15, the Michigan Infrastructure Office and the Michigan Department of Transportation announced that the state had received $23 million from the Biden administration that will be used to install new charging stations at 41 locations throughout the state.

The award comes from the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program, created by the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that was signed into law by President Joe Biden. The state of Michigan projects that it will receive $110 million from the program and will use those funds in addition to state dollars to build out its electric vehicle infrastructure. It expects that by 2030, roads in Michigan will be able to support two million electric vehicles.

“As Michigan continues to lead the nation in advancing clean energy and sustainable infrastructure, the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program represents a significant milestone in our state’s journey towards a greener future,” Zachary Kolodin, Michigan’s chief infrastructure officer, said in a statement.

Kolodin said the creation of an electric vehicle network in Michigan would create jobs and drive economic growth.

Republicans have frequently criticized efforts to expand electric vehicle use and have often opposed legislation meant to increase public adoption of electric cars and trucks. A majority of Republicans in the House and Senate voted against the infrastructure bill, including Michigan Rep. Tim Walberg, who sits on the committee that sent the letter.

In an August 2021 radio interview, Walberg said he was skeptical of the legislation because a significant amount of the funds “would be used for electrification issues that primarily go to large Democrat cities and the rest of us out there will foot the bill for it.”

Yet despite Walberg’s previously expressed concerns, at least two of the announced sites for charging stations are in the city of Jackson along Interstate 94 and U.S. Highway 127. The city is in Walberg’s own 5th Congressional District, and the post office box associated with Walberg’s official campaign is in Jackson

Walberg also voted against the 2021 Inflation Reduction Act, which created and expanded rebates for consumers who purchase electric vehicles.

A 2023 report from the nonprofit World Resources Institute projected that the transition to electric vehicles has the potential to significantly improve Michigan’s economy: “If Michigan adopts the right new policies and increases its market share in EV and battery production during the transition to an all-electric future, the state could add 56,000 jobs in auto manufacturing in 2030 compared with what would occur if the EV transition did not take place.”

The report concluded that failure to fund the transition could lead to a decline in manufacturing jobs.

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