The Hill Op-Ed: Do you have range anxiety?

By Congressman Mark DeSaulnier

What’s holding you back from purchasing an electric vehicle (EV)? There are so many obvious benefits to EVs — like reducing greenhouse gas emissions to curb the effects of climate change and saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars in gas money annually — but Americans haven’t embraced them like we’ve seen in other places around the world. One simple reason may be range anxiety.

Range anxiety is the fear that you might end up stranded somewhere that has no charging stations, and some studies show that 58 percent of prospective EV drivers are worried about it. Another 49 percent of prospective EV drivers fear low availability of EV charging stations and a staggering 61 percent of drivers would be more inclined to purchase an EV if more charging stations were available.

To get us there, the Biden administration has proposed a $2 trillion infrastructure plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The plan includes public investments in 500,000 EV charging stations across the country, serving the dual purpose of creating good jobs in the industries that support vehicle electrification and making EV charging more accessible to drivers across the country. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has also been a vocal proponent of expanding EV infrastructure by supporting $6 billion for cities to partner with private companies and unions to increase battery charging infrastructure.

It’s time for Congress to act.

As a former member of the California Air Resources Board and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, as well as former chairman of the transportation committees in both the California State Assembly and the California State Senate, I have a unique understanding of the impact the transportation sector has on air quality deterioration. In fact, the transportation sector accounted for 28 percent of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2018 — the largest share of U.S. GHG emissions. Forward-looking policies to address climate change and emissions, like those in California, can turn that around and drive innovation, economic growth and even job creation. With today’s innovative companies and organizations that have the technology and the drive to fight against climate change, we are on the cusp of transformative change, particularly with EVs. To see that change, we need a strong federal investment.

That is why I have spearheaded legislation to launch a federal program that would accelerate the expansion of EV charging infrastructure, thereby reducing range anxiety, helping to reverse climate change and modernize our country’s infrastructure. The Clean Corridors Act would direct $3 billion over the coming decade to construct and install infrastructure to support technologies like hydrogen fuel cell and electric battery-powered vehicles. With this legislation, we can help sustain the growth of the EV market, which means more jobs, a healthier Earth and a strong economy. As Congress considers a sustainable infrastructure package and surface transportation reauthorization this year, clean transportation — including EVs and their charging infrastructure — will play a leading role.

It is time for us to make the investments that end range anxiety and get more EVs on the road.

View the Opinion Editorial here.