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Electric vehicles and their impact: a Congressional hearing hosted by Congressman David Scott

On Wednesday, January 12th (2022), we are among the outlets to virtually cover an important hearing focused on Electric Vehicles (EV's). Hosted by Congressman (and Chairman of Committee on Agriculture) David Scott (GA-13), the hearing is held under the theme of "Implications of Electric Vehicle Investments for Agriculture and Rural America".

Witnesses called to be a part of the hearing include the following:

  1. Honorable David Strickland (Vice-President of Global Regulatory Affairs for General Motors based in Washington, DC).

  2. Mr. Lincoln Wood (Electrification Policy Manager for Southern Company based in Atlanta, GA).

  3. Mr. Matthew Laughridge (President and Managing Partner for Terry Reid Automotive Group on behalf of the National Automotive Dealers Association based in Cartersville, GA).

  4. Mr. Trevor Walter (Vice-President of Petroleum Supply Management of Sheetz, Inc on behalf of the National Association of Convenience Stores in Altoona, PA).

  5. Mr. Geoff Cooper (President and Chief Executive Officer of the Renewable Fuels Association based in Ellisville, MO).

  6. Mr. Josh Nassar (the Legislative Director of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implementation Workers of America (UAW) based in Washington, DC).

  7. Mr. Mark Mills (the Senior Fellow of Manhattan Institute based in Chevy Chase, MD).

The full hearing (nearly 4-hours) delves into a number of key areas of concern (the complete video is provided):

There are number of takeaways from the opening remarks:

  1. Congressman and Chairman Scott: During his opening statements, he notes how this could be a significant moment and what it could mean regarding jobs for not only metropolitan areas, but for rural communities (ranging from job to reduced CO2 emissions).

  2. Mr. Strickland: Key commitments by General Motors to EV's include $35 billion earmarked for vehicles and development (by 2025) along with an additional $25 million for climate equity research and access. This would include improved infrastructure in the form of more charging stations, including their dealerships (as 90% of people live within an average of 10 miles of a GM dealership). Such investments include the call for tax credits and incentives across the board for consumers and other related audiences.

  3. Mr. Wood: Larger investments to further de-carbonize (given its impact on the environment) include improved research and development in rural areas (including curriculum and economic development across higher education and related areas) leading to improved understanding and application of EV's and other measures.

  4. Mr. Laughridge: In representing the NADA and Hyundai, a range of $2-$3 billion is earmarked for investment. A key statistic is EV's represent 3% of total vehicle sales; there's a call to look at state and related laws for potential market adjustments and regulations, as well as making sure the dealer and automaker communities play a role in their development and implementation.

  5. Mr. Walter: He notes the need for more charging stations, improved visibility for locations of said stations, and the call for changes in business practices to encourage healthy competition. Likewise, the need to reduce range anxiety, including its presence in rural communities, is another consideration in expanding the presence of EV's.

  6. Mr. Cooper: He states as important it is to de-carbonize, the process may still take decades to reach the larger goals. Nearly 99% of all vehicles run on liquid fuels, and other solutions, including renewal fuels, can play a role along with EV's. This is where the role of the agriculture community is needed in the larger goal and focus of reducing the carbon footprint (and its environmental impact).

  7. Mr. Nassar: He indicates while other countries are ahead of the US regarding incorporation of EV's (China), he stresses a blend of public policy and private investment is needed in addition to the larger call for research and development. Passage of the Next Generation Fuels Act along with looking at potential changes to the job market and how it impacts workers in the automobile industry are essential in the larger process.

  8. Mr. Mills: Improvements are present in EV's (up to a 400 mile range), but the charging time (in some instances, a full charge may take up to 10 hours) is something to focus on (improvement). A hidden cost could be the US's reliance on imports for the materials in production, along with looking at the supply chain and related demands (i.e. the industry and market). The call for infrastructure (i.e. improved super-chargers, coverage in rural areas, and related cost-benefit analysis) is necessary to better assess the role EV's can play in reducing emissions and again, the larger carbon footprint.

During the early portion of the Q/A, related concerns include whether or not the electric grid can handle the potential increase in demand and capacity, job impacts, unknown/hidden costs, along with access to underserved communities. Again, all agree reduction of emissions and the footprint are necessary, as now, it's a matter of seeing what level EV's can play in this larger goal.

An ongoing conversation on the future of not only EV's, but the larger impact of reducing the carbon footprint (and larger environmental impact) is more than just a committee conversation.

It's a national (and global) conversation continuing to unfold.


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