Want to have some fun? The conservative media and House Republicans are outraged by comments from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who earlier this month supported President Biden’s goal of 50% EVs on the market by 2030.
Let’s deconstruct these anti-EV claims of inaccuracy, hyperbole, and convoluted reasoning, shall we? We also look at Buttigieg’s responses, which respond to the criticism but also call out opponents for their short-sightedness about bringing energy-saving technologies to rural communities and the affordability needed to combat the climate crisis.
We’ll also shed light on the persuasive techniques internal combustion engine (ICE) die-hards are using to delay the transition to zero-emissions transport.
After testifying before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Buttigieg praised the Biden administration’s goal of making 50% of all new car sales electric by 2030. The goal is possible “if we prepare,” Buttigieg said. “Look, the fact that people who have electric vehicles will use more electricity cannot be a reason for resignation. The idea that America is worse than other countries that have figured it out just doesn’t sit well with us, and that’s why we’re investing in a better network.”
Association of Mature American Citizens (Better for you. Better for America) insists that Secretary Buttigieg “lives in la-la land”. This media publication suggests that he is the most likely Democratic candidate for president in 2024 if Joe Biden does not run for re-election. If Buttigieg were to be elected, they rationalize: “We will live in a green hell and be forced to buy expensive EVs to accommodate his climate fanaticism”.
The main points of their argument are next, with analysis to follow.
EVs cost too much. The average new EV costs about $66,000. Like ICE vehicles, there are a wide variety of EV purchase options. Capital costs have always been a major factor in the decision to purchase an EV, with 63% of consumers believing an EV is beyond their budget. Still, a 2022 Nissan Leaf or Mini Electric Hardtop starts under $30,000. Sure, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS retails for $120,000, but that’s a rare consumer purchase. Average new vehicle transaction prices (ATP) rose to $47,148 in May 2022, according to new data released by Kelley Blue Book.
EVs are for big spenders. Driving a conventional car 100 miles costs an average of $14 in gas; An EV on the same route would use just over $5 in electricity. Drivers of electric cars thus win on energy costs. Electric cars will soon reach the total cost of ownership (TCO) of ICE vehicles – and not just for “big spenders”.
Charging them is a logistical nightmare. Getting a charge away from home isn’t quick or easy. To think about it another way, a regular car needs to find a gas pump, but an EV can plug in anywhere there’s an outlet, and most people charge at home. The number of fast charging stations increases every year. Virginia, for example, just released a new charging program.
Tesla Model Y with a 220 volt charger installed in your home takes up to 11 hours to charge this model. That’s more than most people sleep in a night. My Model Y goes 326 miles from empty to full; I usually only charge to 80% and rarely let it drop below 10%. I definitely don’t need more than a good night’s sleep to recharge.
Buttigieg’s proposed regulations to force states to reduce CO2 emissions on highways effectively ban gas vehicles. In fact, legacy OEMs must start producing BEVs early to survive; otherwise they become obsolete. The demise of ICE vehicles goes far beyond Buttigieg’s comments. California is the first in the nation to ban new ICE cars by 2035, and as the largest auto market in the US, other states are sure to follow suit.
More backlash from conservative media outlets
The New York Post focused on what Buttigieg and Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) had, with the secretary asking Gimenez to “reconsider that he will oppose the reduction in the price of electric cars in advance with tax credits.”
“Are EVs cheaper by subsidization them?” Gimenez asked.
Buttigieg replied, “Yes, that’s part of it.”
“Yeah, but that’s not going to make it any cheaper,” the congressman said. “In the end, we all pay for it.” We all pay taxes.” In a follow-up tweet, Buttigieg said, “The White House’s logic is that the more pain the American people feel, the better for electric vehicles. It’s a bad way to govern.”
“In short: ‘The more pain’ the American people experience, the better for our agenda,” added Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC).
“Cruelty is what it’s all about,” tweeted Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
“You’re actually using the word ‘need’.” You could also say ‘I want,'” said Rep. Buttigieg. Thomas Massie (R-KY). “There are ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ for this fantasy to work by 2030, but the reality is that the capability won’t be there.” Massie also said he was “troubled” by what he called “naivety” in President Biden’s proposal.
“Evil.” “Cruelty.” “Imagination.” “Frightened.” “Naivety.” Interestingly, these lawmakers are invoking emotionally charged words to slow climate down. Is there no science to support conservative claims about the lack of viability of EVs?
Fox News chose to frame Buttigieg’s remarks as an example of how “the U.S. government is working to lower the cost of electric vehicles so that more Americans buy them and get out of paying so much for gas.” Read: It’s all about politics, dumbass — the environment is a nice byproduct.
Buttigieg acknowledged that the US needs to modernize the network. He also noted, “If we add yesterday’s grid with tomorrow’s cars, it won’t work.”
The minister was described as “all smiles” and as someone who had “added insult to injury” to “Americans angry at Biden’s energy policy… (which) fulfilled his campaign promise to get Americans off fossil fuels.”
“Smiles.” “Offend.” “Angry.” We know people in the US have a lot of questions about EVs. It’s alright. But why should anyone be offended by a smiling government official trying to promote a healthier, safer, fairer and more technologically advanced future? Don’t we desire a reliable energy system that offers increasing system flexibility and resilience within the electricity sector? Oh yes. A lot of conservative people in the US tend to be more resistant to the idea of sustainable transportation because of the double talk from the media such as Fox News.
Final thoughts on Buttigieg and EV opponents
Buttigieg’s nearly 5 hours of testimony before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee covered a wide range of topics — everything from the need for more electric vehicles to improvements to public transportation, ports and bridges designed to boost economic growth and improve the quality of life for residents. .
Buttigieg noted that USDOT has announced nearly $84 billion in grant funding to date, with more to come for lawmakers and their constituents.
“We will need your continued leadership and partnership in this good work – as well as the leadership and partnership of communities across the country, organized labor, businesses, state, tribal and local officials and many others. Together, we have the opportunity to improve countless lives, support good-paying jobs, strengthen American manufacturers, modernize our infrastructure for decades, and solidify America’s position as a leader in the world economy.”
Convincing fossil fuel capitalists that renewable energy transportation options are the way to go is really hard for Buttigieg. But it’s really important work.
After all, it was John F. Kennedy who said, “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”
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