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Alternating Currents: President-elect Joe Biden to be Car Guy-in-Chief

Photo credit: Matt Smith Photographer / Shutterstock.com

In spite of best efforts by the Trump administration to curtail green energy growth in favor of coal and gas, the industry has blossomed over the last half decade or so. Not only has the cost to produce green energy fallen like a stone, but electric vehicles of all kinds are bridging the gap between early adopters and mainstream users. Green energy and electric transportation has not grown because of the party in power over the last four years, but in spite of it. All of that is about to change. 

As of today, we are 70 days away from President-elect Biden’s inauguration day, and the green energy sector could not be more prepared for this occasion. And credit is due to the progressive arm of the Democratic Party for pushing Biden to commit to do more to curtail climate change and promote clean energy production. During the primaries, candidate Biden was staunchly opposed to anything looking like the Green New Deal, but his general election platform called it “crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face.” 

The Biden transition team has already indicated that restrictions on oil and gas drilling will be restricted, corporate average fuel economy standards will be increasingly more stringent, and there will be federal incentives to develop renewable power generation. This means millions of Americans will be put to work developing our green future, which of course includes electric cars and the charging infrastructure we desperately need. The President-elect has already committed to supporting and developing one million new jobs in the American automotive industry within his first (and potentially only) term. 

Any presidential platform that includes moving the entire United States to carbon neutral by 2050 is going to have to include emissions free transportation. Biden’s plan includes provisions for national high speed rail, which would alleviate a huge burden on our highway system. This plan also includes using the power of the federal government’s procurement system to spend its $500 billion annual budget on green purchases, up to and including mandating all new federal government vehicle purchases be green. Maybe we’ll see a Tesla Model X or a Lucid Air used for official diplomat transportation. Hell, maybe Biden’s official Presidential state car will be based on a Cadillac Lyriq?

Biden is said to be opposed to using retaliatory tariffs to grow the U.S. Will this mean the end of the infamous 1964 Chicken Tax? Turning back that tax would mean companies could import smaller and more fuel efficient trucks and vans to the U.S. market without a long-standing 25 percent import tax. This tax has effectively kept battery electric and plug-in hybrid delivery vans from Europe out of our market altogether. Ford would finally be free to import and market its lovely Transit Custom mid-sized van with plug-in hybrid efficiency to the U.S., which would conveniently fit right into its lineup just below the soon-to-be-launched Transit EV delivery van. 

As electric car fanatics, all of this should be great news for us. Clean energy means our cars will be running without the power plant emissions from the electricity we use. As green energy continues to come down in price, running our cars will be even less expensive than it is now. Not only will we have the opportunity to continue to amortize the cost of our cars, but the environment will be cleaner for all of us to enjoy. That’s double plus good. 

Despite his insistence that he will not do anything to kill off hydraulic fracturing natural gas mining, Biden is already the most progressive climate activist president this country has ever seen. If he can actually commit to and push all of these policies through, we’ll see a continued proliferation of electric vehicle options, particularly from domestic manufacturers. It’s likely that government subsidies for things like home solar and home energy storage will also come to pass, making our everyday lives and the energy that powers them a little more independent and a little more reliable. 

The fact of the matter is, none of this should be a partisan fight. We know it will be, but in the end, a Green New Deal could be exactly what we need to recover the economy in a post-COVID world. If you need any further proof that green energy is the way forward in a nonpartisan direction, one only needs to look to the Top 10 green energy producing states in the nation. Texas, a traditionally deeply red state with a history steeped in fossil fuel energy production and one of the largest oil deposits in the world, is the number one producer of solar and wind energy in the country. Other bastions of conservative thought, Oklahoma, Iowa, North Dakota, and Kansas are also leaning heavily into wind energy, combining to produce billions of megawatt hours of emissions-free power. 

After four years of Environmental Protection Agency rollbacks on the auto industry, a new president has promised to overnight transform the U.S. into a green energy global leader. If the man can stick to his plan, things are headed for a change. I’m not the biggest fan of the President Elect, and he wouldn’t have been my first choice, but policies like this have made me come around on the guy. He’s a car guy, so maybe he’ll help us car guys out in kind. For the first time in a good few years, I’m cautiously optimistic. How about you?

Written by Bradley Brownell
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