Lawmakers float bills on highway emissions, EVs

Source: By Nick Sobczyk, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Lawmakers yesterday announced bills to promote electric vehicles and slash greenhouse gas emissions from highways, as Congress and the Biden administration begin talks on an infrastructure bill.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) reintroduced legislation — the “Electric Credit Access Ready at Sale Act” — that would nix the manufacturer cap for the EV tax credit and extend the incentive by 10 years.

Under current law, a credit up to $7,500 is available on 200,000 vehicles per manufacturer, and companies like Tesla Inc. and General Motors Co. have already hit that cap.

EV advocates have long pushed to raise the limit. Merkley and Welsh introduced a version of the legislation in 2019, and similar language was included earlier this month in the “Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now Act,” House Democrats’ broad tax package (Greenwire, Feb. 5).

“Consumers are already looking for electric cars, and this bill will help drive adoption faster — and make sure more of those cars are made by American workers in American factories,” Merkley said in a statement.

Meanwhile, another group of lawmakers announced they would reintroduce the “Generating Resilient, Environmentally Exceptional National Streets Act,” which would aim to decarbonize the nation’s highways.

Led by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), the bill would enact standards for states to reduce emissions and per capita miles traveled on federal highways.

It would also require an analysis of potential greenhouse gas emissions effects of major highway projects aimed at increasing vehicle capacity.

“Business-as-usual is building bad highways and breaking our planet — we can build smarter, safer, and healthier systems if we factor climate impacts and emissions into our decision-making process,” Markey said in a statement.

The bill is supported by Transportation for America and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) is a co-sponsor.

Carper is holding his panel’s first hearing on a surface transportation bill this morning, under the banner of President Biden’s “Build Back Better” slogan.

“When we look at building back better and addressing climate change, our nation’s highways present us with an incredible opportunity,” Carper said in a statement. “We need to establish bold goals for reducing transportation emissions and to deliver safe, reliable, zero-emission travel choices for the public.”