Dingell, reps say Senate bill 'falls far short' on EV charging infrastructure

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Washington — U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell led over two dozen of her colleagues this week in saying the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed Tuesday by the Senate "falls far short" when it comes to funding to build out an electric-vehicle charging network across the nation. 

Dingell, a Dearborn Democrat, wrote to Democratic leadership with New York Rep. Yvette D. Clarke and 26 other House Democrats, who want to see $85 billion included in an infrastructure package toward the effort, rather than the $7.5 billion passed by the Senate. They said the larger spending amount would create tens of thousands of jobs and would boost adoption of clean energy transportation options.

"(A) rapid and extensive build-out of electric vehicle charging infrastructure supported by the federal government is crucial if consumers are to adopt zero-emission vehicles at the scale and pace needed to stave off climate catastrophe and ensure an equitable transition," wrote the lawmakers, including U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Detroit and Brenda Lawrence of Southfield. 

U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell speaks during a press conference at the Great Lakes Water Authority Water Resource Recovery Facility, in Detroit, July 8, 2021.

Dingell in an interview said $85 billion is what she wants to see incorporated into the Senate Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget bill that senators are taking up next. 

"We have to have enough money in there to support the goal that was set out last week," Dingell said. 

She was referring to an event at the White House on Thursday, where the CEOs of Detroit's three automakers joined President Joe Biden as he announced a goal to make half of all new vehicles sold by 2030 emissions-free

The automakers said they are aiming sell 40%-50% electric vehicles in the same time period, including battery electric, fuel cell and plug-in hybrids. The automakers' pledges are voluntary.

The Biden administration last week also issued new, long-awaited rules requiring 5% annual emissions reductions for Model Years 2024 through 2026.

Dingell said the goals can't be reached if the the appropriate resources aren't there, including charging stations to combat so-called "range anxiety." 

The lawmakers, including House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio of Oregon, sent the letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. 

Michigan lawmakers also are eyeing other EV-related priorities for the Senate budget bill. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, told The Detroit News on Monday that she’s pushing to include her legislation an increase in consumer tax credits for EVs to up to $12,500 for the next five years.

“This is something that has broad support and understanding when you look at how we’re going to decrease emissions,” she said.

“When we look at how do we get to 50% reduction in emissions by 2030, you really can’t do that without strongly supporting the ability for people to buy and drive electric vehicles. So I fully expect that we will see something robust in there.”

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, has also written to leadership along with 21 members of Congress urging at least $2 billion in emergency funding to boost domestic production of semiconductors used in the manufacturing of automobiles.

“In order to save jobs and ensure there is a robust domestic automotive manufacturing industry in the U.S., there must be a significant investment in production of legacy chips,” says the letter, which was signed by Dingell and seven other Michigan lawmakers. 

The push comes in the midst of an ongoing semiconductor shortage that has forced shutdowns at auto plants and threatens to cut production by nearly 4 million vehicles globally by the end of the year, according to consulting firm AlixPartners. 

In a similar vein, Dingell introduced a bill in the House last month calling for $2 billion for chip manufacturing for "mature" technology nodes — the type of chips that may be used in consumer and commercial vehicles.

Legislation backed by Stabenow and U.S. Sen. Gary Peters passed the Senate in June including $52 billion for chips, $2 billion of which would go specifically to mature technology. 

mburke@detroitnews.com

Staff writer Riley Beggin contributed.