Electric Vehicles Bring Us Closer to Freedom From Oil

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A Chevy Volt at an EV charging station in Washington, DC. Photo credit: Heather Moyer, Sierra Club.

Imagine greater security for our service members abroad. Imagine freedom from the rising prices of the gas pump. Imagine freedom from massive oil spills like the one last year in the Gulf of Mexico or the one last week in Yellowstone National Park. Imagine freedom from auto tailpipe emissions. Imagine greater economic freedom through reduced national debt and thousands of new clean tech jobs. Imagine freedom from oil altogether.

This week, an unlikely group of more than 180 companies and organizations—large and small—from nearly every U.S. state joined together to issue a statement asking for comprehensive local, state, and federal programs that will promote plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) and drive us toward freedom from oil (PDF). This statement makes it clear more than ever before that there is widespread support for EVs in every part of the country and from a diverse set of economic, security, job growth, environmental, and public health interests.Look at what our oil dependence is subjecting Americans to: The U.S. armed forces spend up to $83 billion annually protecting vulnerable infrastructure and patrolling oil transit routes. Earlier this year US Navy Secretary Roy Mabus said that "out of every 24 fuel convoys we use [in Afghanistan], a soldier or marine is killed or wounded guarding that convoy. That's a high price to pay for fuel."

Our nation sends up to a third of a trillion dollars overseas each year to purchase foreign oil, often produced by countries that are unstable or unfriendly to American interests. Foreign oil purchases are also responsible for about 50% of the U.S. trade deficit.

The statement we issued this week on freedom from oil includes companies and organizations with leaders who have served in our Armed Services—such as Brian Patnoe, Vice President of Fleet Sales at CODA Automotive, a Los Angeles, CA-based electric vehicle and battery company.

"I'm proud to be working for a company committed to supporting oil independence and the emerging EV supply chain," said Patnoe. "As a former Marine, it's also exciting for me to see successful business opportunities that support a prosperous oil-free future -from CODA's own parts manufacturers and assembly line workers to electrical workers installing EV chargers and the customers purchasing a whole new type of vehicle."

New EVs are on the market in select cities nationwide, and by next year, they will be available in nearly every state. Now, we need to put the right policies, infrastructure, and programs in place to support a cleaner and safer shift in the way we power our vehicles. This week's EV sign-on statement spells out some of the types of policies that will allow us to become EV-ready ASAP:

1. Expand national, regional, and local efforts that help attract greater concentrations of electric vehicles in communities across the country.

2. Remove unnecessary bureaucratic and market obstacles to vehicle electrification nationwide through a variety of policies that:

  • bolster nationwide installation of and access to basic charging infrastructure, both at people's homes and in public places;

  • incentivize the purchase of electric vehicles and EV charging equipment and streamline the permitting application process for EV charging equipment;

  • educate the public about the benefits of EVs and the costs, opportunities, and logistical considerations involved with EV charging infrastructure;

  • ensure appropriate training for workers installing EV charging equipment and for first responders;

  • encourage utilities to provide attractive rates and programs for EV owners and increase off-peak charging;

  • assist in deployment of clean energy, efficiency, and energy management technologies jointly with vehicle charging; and

  • accelerate advanced battery cost reduction by boosting EV use in fleets, in second use, and in stationary applications.

3. Ensure US leadership in manufacturing of electric drive vehicles, batteries and components.

EVs will help us achieve freedom from oil, and they also mean less air pollution. Emissions from EVs are at least 30% lower than those from traditional vehicles - and that's on today's electric grid. As we clean up our grid and rely more and more on renewable sources of power, EVs get even cleaner over time.

Let's move our country beyond oil - join the Sierra Club's Go Electric Campaign and our other Beyond Oil initiatives such as Dirty Fuels and Green Transportation.

Read more about energy and security:Obama National Security Advisor Outlines Energy Policy Priorities (Video Clip)
Plug-In Hybrids Address The OTHER Energy Security Issue: The Grid
Energy Security Requires Diversifying Fuel Mix and Supply

Electric Vehicles Bring Us Closer to Freedom From Oil
Imagine greater security for our service members abroad. Imagine freedom from the rising prices of the gas pump. Imagine freedom from massive oil spills

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