Electric car credits benefit the elite over the many

With November’s midterm election behind us and as we enter the lame-duck session, it’s time for Republicans to acknowledge the successes over the past year and look to where we can continue to flourish.

Over the last two years, the Republican Congress has secured provisions that are expanding and growing our national economy better than ever before. However, a proposed expansion on a special interest provision could disrupt our fiscal progress and threaten the free market.

Our nation’s shifting energy mix has automakers scrambling to manufacture electric and “zero emissions” vehicles (EVs and ZEVs), while reducing their production of traditional cars and trucks.

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Though this explosion of EV production is being championed by some, others have scrutinized the corporate billionaires who are manipulating the market. Deciding for the American people which cars are best by issuing these handouts alienates an entire population: those living in rural communities.

The free market exists to offer options to a range of consumers. This tax credit does an excellent job of skewing the market toward a product that is unattainable and not practical for a large population of the U.S.

We were encouraged to hear news that National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow stated that plans are in the works to scrap subsidies for electric cars, with a proposed deadline of ending all EV credits by 2020.  

The subsidies in question offer up to $7,500 to buyers of electric vehicles, which are largely purchased by upper and upper-middle class households. In fact, the majority of credits are claimed by those earning at least $100,000 annually.

What about those living in rural America where charging stations are few and far between? According to EV companies, they don’t matter — and neither do their consumer demands.

Growing up on my family’s 1906 homestead in Roberts, Mont., I am troubled by this evolution away from the reliable, affordable transportation that the internal combustion engine provides. In many rural states, heavy trucks are not just a necessity but a way of life.

Unfortunately, the forced transition to selling unwanted EVs is raising the prices on cars that people do want, while lowering the prices on vehicles that people don’t want.

It has been estimated that on average, a new car will cost $3,000 more than before EV expansion, while premium electric pickup trucks — available by 2025 — are expected to be $13,000 more than trucks with internal combustion engines. With the current trajectory, the only winners are corporate conglomerates.

However, while EV environmental benefits have always been touted, these figures have been grossly overstated. global warming potential benefits are typically only 9-14-percent better than gasoline vehicles, about the same as diesel. Most electricity used to fuel EVs are generated by coal, and likely may not even reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

It’s time for our Republican Congress to band together for the best interest of our nation’s economy and people — not just the corporate entities that try and manipulate it.

We need to extinguish the notion that our government will keep handing out dollars to pad the pockets of West Coast elites and stand behind the backbone of the American way of life. Congress should be focused on ending the EV tax credit, not expanding it.

Colter DeVries is a multi-generational agricultural producer and Montana business owner from Billings. He serves in various leadership roles including the Rural & Agriculture Council of America.