Democratic News

Opening Statement – June 22, 2010
Electric Vehicle Deployment
“Thank you all for coming here to testify today to give us your thoughts on accelerating deployment of electric vehicles and how Senator Dorgan’s bill on the subject fits into the policy framework.  This has been a subject of great interest both to the Committee and the Senate in the past, and will continue to be important as we look to reduce our oil dependency and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.
“The significant benefit of using electricity to fully or partially power our vehicles when it comes to oil security is easy to see – vehicles can achieve efficiencies of over 100 miles per gallon and save consumers money in the process.
“The man-made disaster unfolding in the Gulf provides one obvious reason to reduce our reliance on oil, but there are other significant environmental benefits of electrification as well.  As we bring more renewable sources into our electricity supply, through market mechanisms such as a renewable electricity standard that is part of a bill reported out of this committee, or by directly pricing carbon pollution, we can multiply the benefits by using that sustainable power in our transportation sector as well.
“This Committee has previously supported research into the technologies found in these vehicles, and into deployment programs such as the Advanced Technology Vehicles loan program, which supports the re-opening or retooling of plants to produce electric vehicles in Tennessee, Delaware and California.  Grant programs to support deployment are allowing plants to be built to produce next-generation batteries in states such as Michigan and Indiana, and Federally-supported programs to demonstrate the vehicles are beginning in several states. 
“However, to really achieve the energy and environmental security gains the country clearly needs, the manufacturers of this technology have to see a substantial market for these vehicles in order to justify their investments.
“First, this will require infrastructure in communities to give consumers the confidence that electric vehicles will meet their needs.  Second, consumers must be able afford the early vehicles, before manufacturers have achieved economies of scale and technology advances have reduced the cost of production.  Sen. Dorgan’s bill contains programs aimed at addressing both these problems.
“I should also note that this bill is also a companion to a fuller bill, with complementary tax provisions, that has been referred to the Finance Committee.  And there’s a bill that I have introduced with Sen. Snowe, S.1620, that is similarly aimed at allowing consumers to realize the benefits of more efficient vehicles through a rebate at the point of purchase.
“I believe making the benefits of efficiency, as well as the costs of inefficiency, more visible to consumers at the time of purchase is an important part of the equation that the Senate will have to return to when it considers these policies.”
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