Letters to the New York Times: Are electric cars the wheels of the future?

Sen. Chuck Schumer’s proposal comes in for criticism... and some praise. 

Recently, the New York Times published some Letters to the Editor on U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer’s proposal to provide $3,000 vouchers to trade in gas-powered vehicles for plug-in electric and plug-in hybrid or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. For lower income Americans’, larger vouchers would be available.

Critics say the proposal would, in essence, resurrect former President Barack Obama’s “cash for clunkers” program.

One of the Letters to the Editor was penned by the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Take a look:

To the Editor:

Re “A Bold Plan for Zero-Emission Cars,” by Chuck Schumer (Op-Ed, Oct. 25):

Sen. Chuck Schumer

If we needed proof of how extreme the Democratic Party has become, just look at Senator Schumer’s article about electric vehicles.

He wants to get every gas-powered car off the road and to resurrect President Barack Obama’s disastrous “cash for clunkers” program.

That program wasted $3 billion of taxpayer money giving subsidies to people who bought newer vehicles. Even environmentalists admitted that it had “slim if any environmental benefits.”

Mr. Schumer’s “new” plan is 100 times more expensive. He wants to spend $392 billion of taxpayer money to subsidize cars only wealthy Americans can afford.

Sen. John Barrasso

The median price for electric vehicles is roughly $20,000 more than the median price of gas-powered cars.
Sold as stimulus, the first program was actually a drag on the economy. While the effect on taxpayers was significant, the effect on the air was minimal.

Mr. Schumer’s plan doubles down on failure.

John Barrasso/Washington

The writer, a Wyoming Republican, is chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

To the Editor:

The key to Chuck Schumer’s electric vehicle proposal is the focus on American-made cars. This is the strongest rebuke yet to Donald Trump’s efforts to bully American automakers into rolling back fuel standards.
Senator Schumer understands, as the president does not, the vital role government policy plays in driving innovation.

Right now, only one country has developed a comprehensive strategy for electric vehicle manufacturing — the vehicles, the batteries, the charging infrastructure — and that country is China. Mr. Schumer recognizes that unless the United States acts now to create an entire supply chain for electric vehicles, it will be left behind.

Diane Matza/Clinton, N.Y.

To the Editor:

Senator Chuck Schumer rightly signals the urgency of shifting our automotive fleet away from gas-burning vehicles. What he doesn’t do, though, is acknowledge the parallel need to shrink the supersized vehicles that fill our streets and crowd our highways.

In 2018, 69 percent of all new cars sold were SUVs and pickup trucks. Ford has unabashedly set its sights on making these fuel-hungry giants almost 90 percent of its North American portfolio by 2020. Other American carmakers are headed in the same direction, effectively ceding the passenger sedan market to European and Asian manufacturers.

Sadly, the Obama administration encouraged this big-car bias by setting more lenient mileage and greenhouse gas emission requirements for larger vehicles. Instead, it should have adopted a uniform timetable for improving each manufacturer’s fleetwide performance. President Trump’s push for even weaker fuel economy standards will only make matters worse.

Electric vehicles, by themselves, will not reduce the carbon footprint of American mobility. We must, at the same time, reshape our power sector to produce zero-emission electricity, a challenge that will be a lot easier if the vehicles we’re driving look more like Chevy Bolts than Cadillac Escalades.

Philip Warburg/Newton, Mass.

The writer, an environmental lawyer, writes about energy policy.