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The CLEAN Future Act Part 3: The Transportation Sector

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In this blog we’ll continue our discussion of the CLEAN Future Act. This week, the focus will be on the transportation section of the bill and the challenges that would come with it.

It’s no secret that transportation has been revolutionized in recent years. It’s great that the world is more accepting of electric vehicles and the technology behind them. However, it’s unfortunate that it took the U.S. this long to have a committee present a bill proposing more acceptance of renewable energy. Just last year, the U.S. invested $85 billion into renewable energy infrastructure. It seems like a lot, right? Well, China quadrupled that last year. With how much money the U.S. sends to the military, you’d think we’d have more money to shell out towards clean energy.

Here’s what the proposal for improving the transportation sector looks like.

The major points in the transportation section include how CLEAN would work towards rolling back the trend of “transportation-related energy consumption” as it would continue for years unless the U.S. acts. CLEAN mentions how the U.S. could do this by transition to low carbon (hybrid) and electric cars. This bill would charge the EPA to set stricter gas emission standards all types of vehicles, big or small, until the end goal of 2050. CLEAN also calls for increased funds for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA), which is a bill passed back in 2019 aiming to improve air quality and reduce harmful emissions from diesel engines. With a funded DERA, the DOE can work towards implementing batteries into buses, semis, and other large vehicles that require diesel fuel.

Along with other improvements towards cleaner transportation, this part of the bill seems like it could be done by 2050. However, there are some problems with this part of the plan.

The first problem for the transportation sector is the issue of batteries.

For a Tesla model, the price of batteries ranges from $35,000 – $54,000. Not every American can afford something like that, let alone even an older Tesla model. Elon Musk wants 20 million of his cars produced a year going forward, but unless his customers live in populated metropolitan areas, that isn’t going to be feasible.

What this bill doesn’t address is how the U.S. is going to improve the infrastructure of renewable charging stations throughout the country.

According to a report from Bankrate Inc, a consumer financial services company, the majority of Americans can’t afford average new cars. Furhter, TradingEconomics.com found through analyzing median household incomes in 25 U.S. cities found that only Washington D.C. residents could afford the average cost of a new car, which is $35,368. (thestreet.com/personal-finance/…americans-are-so-poor-only-one-city-could-afford-a-new-car-html)

If only one city’s residents could afford a payment of the $35,368 average for a regular car, how can the rest of the country be able to afford electric cars, even ones not offered by Tesla?

A sizable portion of the U.S. is the Midwest. Here populated city areas are few and far between. A typical battery for an electric car can only run about 100 miles or so before it needs a full charge again.

For EV cars to be a practical alternative, states like Missouri, Texas, Georgia, and other sparsely populated states still will have to greatly improve their EV infrastructure.

The CLEAN Future Act aims to improve upon diesel engine emissions; the goal is a fleet of fully electric semis. This doesn’t bode well for the states where it’s miles and miles of open road until they reach a settlement of some kind, whether it’d be a small town or largely populated area. Again, the authors of CLEAN, even though they’re part of the Department of Energy, may not have a firm grasp of how large of a project it would take to include renewable energy hotspots into the U.S. interconnections.

For large scale transportation, like semis and other diesel engines, the batteries would probably have to be the size of large refrigerators that would have to take up inventory space. That or the length of electric semis would have to be longer if they wanted to keep the same amount of inventory space.

Now, none of this is impossible, but it is a very tall order to be done in the next 30 years. It comes down to whether elected officials want to see a cleaner future or not. Transportation is the leading cause of greenhouse gases, and with climate change deniers this won’t be fixed even with CLEAN passing.

Next week we’ll discuss the industrial sector section of the bill and what the authors of CLEAN want to tackle.

Check out this link if you want to read up on the CLEAN Future Act

https://www.circleofblue.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/CLEAN-Future-Act-Memo_01.08.20_FINAL.pdf

Check out these links below to learn more about the transportation sector with renewable energy.

https://www.csis.org/east-green-chinas-global-leadership-renewable-energy

https://www.statista.com/statistics/499193/clean-energy-investment-in-the-us/#:~:text=The%20United%20States’%20investment%20in,totaled%20roughly%2010%20billion%20U.S.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-energy-renewables/china-to-plow-361-billion-into-renewable-fuel-by-2020-idUSKBN14P06P

https://www.theverge.com/2020/9/22/21450916/tesla-battery-pack-elon-musk-price-kilowatt-hour-ev-cost-tabless#:~:text=A%20lithium%2Dion%20battery%20cell,%E2%80%93%24130%2FkWh%20or%20more.&text=Today’s%20battery%20packs%20cost%20around,%2412%2C000%2C%20depending%20on%20their%20capacity.

https://www.thestreet.com/personal-finance/insurance/car-insurance/americans-are-so-poor-only-one-major-city-could-afford-a-new-car-html

https://thehill.com/changing-america/sustainability/infrastructure/537150-the-best-and-worst-states-for-supporting#:~:text=Some%20of%20the%20states%20that,Environmental%20Protection%20Agency%20(EPA).

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