Energy & Environment

Ocasio-Cortez, Levin introduce revised bill to provide nationwide electric vehicle charging network

Electric car
An electric car being charged.

Reps. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) introduced a revised bill Wednesday that would build out a national network of electric vehicle charging stations.

If passed, the Electric Vehicles Freedom Act would create a plan for a network of public charging stations that would allow drivers to drive anywhere in the U.S. with limited risk of the battery dying too far from a station.

While the representatives introduced a similar measure in 2020, they cited the Democratic Senate majority and the Biden administration as factors that made its success more likely in 2021.

Ocasio-Cortez also called the bill part of a broader slate of Green New Deal policies she and her colleagues have recently introduced.

“The EV Freedom Act is a piece of legislation that upholds those core Green New Deal principles … it’s part of a much larger comprehensive approach to transportation, we’re making sure we’re not leaving any community behind,” she said in a press call with Levin on Wednesday.

Ocasio-Cortez also emphasized the need to ensure that such buildouts of infrastructure addressed existing inequalities in transportation infrastructure, saying current access to electric vehicles in particular is “built upon lines and geography of privilege.”

She added that public charging stations are particularly vital in areas where housing is densely built, pointing to the legacy in New York City of urban planner Robert Moses. Moses, she noted, “essentially railed through the Cross Bronx Expressway” through heavily Black and Latino communities, and modern transportation infrastructure must avoid similar policy decisions.

Asked how she would respond to Republican criticism that pro-electric vehicle policies advantaged the wealthy, the New York congresswoman responded that Republicans “have it backwards.” The bill, she said, would “create the infrastructure” for electric vehicle charging to be treated as a public service.

“Right now electric vehicles are expensive, and so the way we can drive down these prices is by building out the infrastructure that will allow … more affordable electric vehicles,” she added.

“Getting to mass production is everything,” Levin added, saying “It’s not about waiting for markets because it’s not necessarily in anyone’s economic interest to provide that charging capacity right now.”

The representatives added that they were also developing policy in cooperation with disabled people, who are disproportionately affected by both transportation policy and climate change in general.

“We intend to have people from the disability rights communities as full partners right along in this,” Levin said, noting they had solicited input to ensure the bill included full Americans with Disabilities Act compliance.

“It’s important it’s explicitly uplifted that our disabled community is an environmental justice front-line community,” Ocasio-Cortez added.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Andy Levin charging stations Electric vehicles Power grid
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