Democrats Introduce Bold Plan To Transition Vehicles From Gas To Electric

The transportation system in the United States needs to undergo an immediate transformation as part of the effort to combat the climate crisis. A new promising piece of legislation looks to do just that, and it has the support of automakers and the unions.

The fact is that cars and trucks on the road are among the top producers of carbon emissions that are driving climate change. The problem, however, is that while automakers such as Volkswagen have ramped up production of electric cars, people are increasingly buying gas guzzling SUVs and trucks instead, which will cancel out any carbon emissions that have been slashed by electric cars thus far.

The Green New Deal will transform the transportation sector, but it won’t be taken up in the Senate, where Republicans have control. But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has announced a plan that just might have the support, especially since automakers have also thrown their backing behind it.

“I am announcing a new proposal designed to rapidly phase out gas-powered vehicles and replace them with zero-emission, or “clean,” vehicles like electric cars,” Schumer wrote in the New York Times this week. “The goal of the plan, which also aims to spur a transformation in American manufacturing, is that by 2040 all vehicles on the road should be clean.”

Frankly, the timeline needs to be much earlier than 2040, but it’s a start. And it’s not only supported by the leading automakers, but by environmental groups and labor unions.

“What distinguishes this proposal is not only its scale but also its ability to unite the American environmental movement, the American labor movement and large automakers,” Schumer continued. “It has already earned the support of climate groups like the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the League of Conservation Voters; labor unions like the United Automobile Workers and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; and car manufacturers like Ford and General Motors.

Indeed, General Motors released a statement praising the effort to “advance electrification through much-needed infrastructure investments, consumer incentives and promotion of American electric vehicle manufacturing.”

That’s because the plan calls for multi-billion-dollar grants to states and cities to build electric charging stations to power electric cars, and grants to automakers so they can completely overhaul their factories to produce them. American consumers would also be given vouchers to trade their gas powered cars in for clean cars. Basically, everybody wins, except for the fossil fuel industry. And that’s a good thing.

The United Auto Workers also endorsed the legislative proposal, remarking that it “honors the sweat and sacrifice of American autoworkers by investing in domestic manufacturing of electric vehicles and incentivizing high-quality jobs across the auto supply chain.”

Creating thousands of jobs and improving our infrastructure are two things all Americans can agree needs to get done.

“In total, these discounts should result in 63 million fewer gas-powered cars on the road by 2030 and put America on a path to having 100 percent of new car sales be clean,” Schumer wrote. “We need to act urgently and ambitiously, which will require building diverse coalitions of political support.”

We have a chance to transform our nation and the world, and all we need to do is invest money in America, something that has been long overdue. A bonus of that would be cutting our carbon emissions and helping to protect the environment. Of course, it’s unlikely Republicans will support it because they are financially dependent on the fossil fuel industry. So, the best way to ensure passage of this legislation would be to elect a new Senate majority who will pass it and a new president who will sign it into law.

It’s either that or we have to wait four more years or longer for real meaningful change. Only by then, it could be too late.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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