West Virginia is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes and vistas and the most hardworking people in this country. Yet, in national debates, the people of this state and their priorities are often forgotten — falling second to the wants of louder voices on the coasts.
That is why I am proud to have served this state for nearly 40 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.
For a couple years now, one topic that has been buzzing around Washington and Democrat circles is that of electric vehicles. Progressives are heralding EVs as silver bullets for climate change, claiming that, if we outlaw fuel-based vehicles right now and bring in EVs, everything will be solved.
Feeling the pressure, President Joe Biden announced his goal to have half of all vehicles sold in the United States by 2030 be EVs. Many automakers are creating similarly lofty targets, and we most likely will see the federal budget allocated toward them in the infrastructure package.
Now, I couldn’t agree more that we need to find solutions for climate change, but, unfortunately, EVs are not the end-all-be-all solution. Not only are many hardworking Americans unable to make the switch from fuel-based vehicles quite yet — including many West Virginia residents — but the infrastructure of our country is not yet ready either.
Before we transition to electric cars, let’s be sure the cost does not fall on hardworking, lower- and middle-income Americans. Moreover, let’s be smart with our allocation in federal spending packages and not put all of our money toward a progressive policy that is not grounded in reason.
This does not have to be a partisan issue. We can come together and see the realistic side of a hasty entrance of EVs. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., constantly prove just that, and both have addressed the issue of EVs from a pragmatic and sensible standpoint.
At a news conference, Capito rightfully pointed out, in reference to EVs, “Everything we do has to be done through the lens of what realistically the American people are going to be moving towards,” adding, “What’s the cost of an electric vehicle to the consumer? What’s the environmental hazard of disposing of a battery of an electric vehicle?”
Similarly, Manchin has pointed out the national-security risks that are associated with EVs, since, as it currently stands, this undoubtedly would result in a dependence on China for the necessary raw materials. At a committee hearing, the senator said, “People are being enslaved in parts of the world in order to get the resources that we seem to want to be out of sight, out of mind and we just say, ‘Well, we have an electric vehicle.’ ”
Both of our senators bring up very important, very real arguments. The unfortunate reality is that we are simply not ready.
We also have to consider what real, hardworking Americans want and need for their daily lives. Many rural workers in West Virginia and elsewhere are making large investments right now in trucks and other fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, because that is what is best for their jobs. Not only can they not make the switch to EVs for lifestyle reasons, but they are going to have to bear the costs of wealthy millionaires in Silicon Valley buying and getting tax credits for Teslas while they work hard to make a living.
Senators Manchin and Capito should be thanked, for prioritizing the needs of their constituents. As discussions around the infrastructure and reconciliation packages continue, I know that both will work with their colleagues on understanding the risks and concerns of a switch to EVs right now.