Three sentaors, Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), recently introduced the Electric Vehicle Deployment Act of...
Three sentaors, Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), recently introduced the Electric Vehicle Deployment Act of 2010. The goal of the bill is to "is to put the nation on a path to electrify half its cars and trucks by 2030, which if achieved, would cut U.S. demand for oil by about one-third."
Here's a summary from Truthout that explains how:
The Senate bill would name at least five communities to be models for electric-vehicle transportation. They would build stations where motorists could recharge their cars' batteries. Residents would be offered a $10,000 tax credit to buy electric cars. And the federal government would put $1.5 billion into research for improving electric-car technology.\n
There's a very similar bipartisan bill in the House. If they both pass, and the differences between them are reconciled, we could get a big new boost for electric vehicles in (at least parts of) the United States. The price tag would be in the $7 to $10 billion range.
Finding a way to reduce the fossil fuels used by the transportation sector is a big challenge for a couple of reasons. First, the transportation sector is responsible for a lot of CO2. Have a look at the chart below, from the Energy Information Administration.
As you can see, the generation of electric power has a larger carbon footprint than transportation. But transportation is, in many ways, the bigger challenge. That's because we can't clean transportation no matter how many wind farms or solar panels we put up as long as our fleet of cars runs on gas. We have to electrify a significant percentage of our cars and trucks for the switch to renewable energy to have any effect on the emissions from transportation.
Now, to be fair, there are some 254 million passenger vehicles in the United States, so the goal of electrifying half our fleet by 2030 might be ambitious. Part of making transportation sustainable will be expanding mass transit and just driving less. But as long as cars and trucks are with us—and they will be for a few decades—we should make them electric. Legislation like this will help.
If you want to learn more, Earth2tech has a great primer on the two bills. If you want to encourage your representatives in Congress to support them, Govit has a useful form. And if you want to read the bills in their entirety, you can find them here and here.
Image: IMG_3990.JPG, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from 56727147@N00's photostream