Press Releases

Crawford Opening Statement from Hearing on the Biden Administration’s Efforts to Increase the Number of Electric Vehicles

Washington, D.C., April 30, 2024 | Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446
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Washington, D.C. – Opening remarks, as prepared, of Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Rick Crawford (R-AR) from today’s hearing, entitled “It’s Electric: A Review of Fleet Electrification Efforts”:

We are here today to discuss the Biden Administration’s efforts to increase the number of electric vehicles, or EVs, on our nation’s roadways, and the infrastructure challenges stemming from that goal.

But this hearing is also about much more than that. I believe in consumer choice. The choice to decide where you want to go and how you want to get there. Sadly, the Biden Administration doesn’t seem to share this view. 

The President campaigned on a pie in the sky goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.  We all know that’s unachievable without massive economic hardship on working Americans. He’s committed to that vision, regardless of what that means for the moms and dads who simply want to buy a new car, minivan, or pickup to make it easier to get to work or take their kids to school.

A key part of this goal includes President Biden’s pledge to have 50 percent of all new car sales be EVs by 2030, and to build out a national charging network with 500,000 public EV chargers.

And that’s not to mention the regulatory onslaught from the EPA. The EPA just released new tailpipe emission standards for light duty vehicles and medium and heavy duty vehicles that will balloon the cost of a vehicle. This of course follows the EPA reinstating a waiver of California’s CARB standards that 17 states have sued the Administration over. I’m frankly shocked at this Administration’s insistence on remaking the domestic vehicle industry in a top-down, Soviet style five-year plan that is devoid of common-sense, market-driven data. 

I’m not opposed to EVs. I’m not opposed to any alternative energy vehicle. But the government shouldn’t try to control the market, and it shouldn’t stack the deck in favor of one vehicle over another. The fact is, EVs are sitting on car lots an average of 58 days longer compared to their conventional counterparts, and according to Kelley Blue Book, they cost at least $5,000 more. 

Americans are hurting with runaway inflation thanks to this Administration’s economic failures. I’m not sure they can afford an additional $5,000 for a vehicle they don’t really want and that doesn’t give them the reliability they need. 

Under this subcommittee’s jurisdiction, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) contained $7.5 billion for programs intended to build out a charging network, yet to date, only eight charging stations have been opened. It has been about two and half years since IIJA was enacted, and we have eight charging stations to show for this multibillion-dollar investment. I am sure our witnesses will talk more about that today. 

I also remain concerned that there appears to be a lack of minimum federal cyber security standards for these chargers, which create access points for hackers into our electric grid in a way that traditional fueling stations simply do not.

Separately, I’m concerned that China controls the market for the majority of the critical minerals and refineries needed to produce EV batteries. And just like there hasn’t been anything that I would call a real plan to deal with increased cyber vulnerabilities, I’ve yet to see the Administration make any proposals that will address the future of our nation’s Highway Trust Fund, which is dependent on user fees generated by excise taxes on gasoline and diesel. 

The Highway Trust Fund provides the long-term certainty necessary for state departments of transportation to plan roadway and mass transit projects. More vehicles on the road that do not pay into the Highway Trust Fund is going to have an impact. In fact, in February, the Congressional Budget Office released an updated 10-year baseline which estimates a delta of $280 billion by 2034, but understates the full impact of the new tailpipe regulations.

The Biden Administration is so focused on the President’s promise of achieving net-zero by 2050 that it’s not listening to consumers who actually purchase vehicles, nor is it factoring in the realistic challenges of electrification at the expense of other viable fuel options.

Innovation within the marketplace is important, and we should encourage it. In fact, just the other week I was the first Member of Congress to drive Tesla’s newest model of the Cybertruck onto the Capitol Plaza. Private investment and innovation should be encouraged. However, I do not support the federal government mandating where the market goes, picking winners and losers by prioritizing one type of alternative fuel over others.

For example, last week, the Department of Energy’s National Petroleum Council found that the hydrogen industry is not growing fast enough to meet the Administration’s climate goals, and the American Transportation Research Initiative released a report analyzing the benefits of renewable diesel compared to battery-electric trucks.

Consumers and businesses should have the choice about what types of cars, trucks, or buses they want to buy that make the most sense for their bottom line.

Another concern with respect to the Biden Administration’s pursuit of EVs for all: the United States does not have infrastructure that can, at this time, support the levels of electrification the Administration is pushing. A study out of Princeton University estimates that domestic energy levels are supposed to increase 18 percent from 2022 to 2030; however, the study notes that in order to meet the demand for just light-duty vehicles, there will need to be a 3,360 percent increase by 2035.

There are even more challenges with trucks. The technology needed to electrify the trucking industry isn’t ready. A Roland Berger study, commissioned by the Clean Freight Coalition, found that a $1 trillion investment is needed to electrify the U.S. commercial truck fleet. This includes $620 billion for charging infrastructure and $370 billion to upgrade the power grid.

Setting aside those massive needs, even if you can find an electric truck, they’re cost prohibitive for many in the industry. The average battery-electric Class 8 truck costs over $400,000, compared to a diesel running close to $180,000 currently.

I respect the rights of a company to decide if it’s in the company’s best interest to electrify their fleet, just like I respect their ability to choose to go in another direction, like natural gas. But it is also important to recognize that many fleets, including owner-operators, will be put at a competitive disadvantage and simply can’t afford to purchase new vehicles, let alone a $400,000 rig.

To add to these challenges, the batteries in these trucks can weigh up to 16,000 pounds, roughly one-quarter of the total allowable weight. That will make already slim margins for payload offset even slimmer. Add in the fact that it takes between 2.9 to 5.7 hours to recharge the battery -- that is, if you can find an open and functioning charger. That’s on top of the current challenge we know exists with the truck parking shortage. Less product will move on each truck. And each truck will take longer to get to its destination. This isn’t a recipe for success.

Similar issues exist for local transit agencies moving to battery-electric propulsion buses, which cannot spend hours recharging with passengers aboard, nor can existing electric buses meet the distance ranges needed for many local agency routes, especially those in rural areas. The bus manufacturing market has consolidated over the past several years such that only two companies currently make electric buses domestically. The result is a lengthy production to delivery timetable and a marketplace with little room for smaller EV bus orders, compounding competition challenges.

And similar to the heavy-duty truck sector, battery-electric buses often run as much as double the cost of a traditional diesel bus. Altogether, this means more expensive buses that take longer to procure and that can’t drive as far or as often as the diesel equipment in use today.

You must also factor in bad weather and extreme temperatures’ effect on battery-electric vehicles and the limited ranges the batteries can operate. These are just some of the concerns I have with rushing to electrify our transportation sector in this top-down, mandated way.

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today. A number of you can provide valuable firsthand experience on adding battery-electric vehicles to your fleets.

Click here for more information from today’s hearing, including video and witness testimony.

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