Merkley Introduces Nationwide Bill to Encourage Electric Vehicle Deployment

Washington, DC— Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced today the “Electric Vehicle Deployment Act of 2010,” a bill that promotes the rapid, near-term deployment of plug-in electric drive motor vehicles. The bill would create “deployment communities” across the country, where targeted incentive programs for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure systems would help demonstrate rapid market penetration and determine what “best practices” would be helpful for nationwide deployment of electric vehicles.

“I have always believed in pursuing new and innovative ways to provide for our country’s energy needs, especially as we work to reduce our reliance on imported oil” Dorgan said. “It is essential to be forward-thinking in our energy policy, which is why I am introducing this legislation to help country transition to an electric vehicle fleet. It’s a logical move that will strengthen our national security and improve our air quality, while relying on our abundant electricity supply to fuel our cars.”

“Republicans and Democrats agree that electrifying our cars and trucks is the single best way to reduce our dependence on oil,” Alexander said. “Our goal should be to electrify half our cars and trucks within 20 years, which would reduce our dependence on petroleum products by about a third, from about 20 million to about 13 million barrels a day. According to a Brookings Institution study, we could do this without building one new power plant, if we plugged our cars in at night when the country has huge amounts of unused electricity.”

“As the recent BP spill has shown, America’s dependence on oil carries with it massive economic and environmental risks,” Merkley said.  “By accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles, we can take a major step in moving away from oil.  These next-generation cars and trucks take advantage of the resources and technology we have available right now while putting us on the road to energy independence.”

Moving toward the use of electric vehicles is vital to reduce the country’s dangerous dependence on foreign oil, particularly in the transportation sector. The transportation sector accounts for more than two-thirds of total national petroleum consumption and it is 95 percent reliant on petroleum. The United States imported 57 percent of its oil needs in 2008 at a cost of some $380 billion – or nearly 60 percent of the total trade deficit. Reducing the transportation sector’s reliance on petroleum will strengthen national security and boost our economy.  

Electric vehicle technology is already picking up speed with the Nissan Leaf, GM’s Volt, and the Ford Focus, all due out in the next year or so. The legislation is intended to encourage U.S. production and adoption of electric vehicles in response to some of the country’s most pressing problems, from dependence on foreign oil to climate concerns.

To encourage production and the adoption of electric vehicles, the legislation would increase incentives for electric vehicle purchases, promote the deployment of charging infrastructure, help coordinate and develop model electric vehicle communities, provide technical assistance to communities nationwide to plan for electrification, and increase electric vehicle research and development funding.  The goal is to put the nation on a path to electrify half its cars and trucks by 2030, which if achieved, would cut U.S. demand for oil by about one-third.