Washington D.C. - In a letter today to Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Andy Harris (R-MD) questioned the merits of the Obama Administration’s record spending on electric cars and other alternative vehicles. In particular, Harris expressed concern with the creation of a new $1 billion advanced vehicle deployment program announced by President Obama earlier this month. According to a White House fact sheet on the program—called the National Community Deployment Challenge (NCDC)—the new spending would “catalyze up to 10 to 15 model communities to invest in the necessary infrastructure, remove the regulatory barriers, and create the local incentives to support deployment of advanced vehicles at critical mass.”
In the letter, Harris said, “The Obama Administration has spent billions of taxpayer dollars subsidizing electric vehicles. As with so much of the rest of the President’s green energy agenda, we have little to show for it beyond story after story of waste, mismanagement, and poor results. We’re drowning in debt and borrowing nearly 40 cents of every dollar we spend. The Administration owes it to the American people to explain and justify the President’s calls to spend even more in this area and expand subsidies for vehicles only affordable to the wealthiest Americans.”
The letter also calls on DOE to provide documents regarding over $126 million in funding provided to Ecotality, Incorporated. A March 22nd report by CBS News revealed that Ecotality is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for insider trading. Beginning with $100 million in Stimulus funding in 2009, DOE awarded Ecotality money to install electric vehicle chargers across the United States, less than half of which have been installed to-date. According to CBS News, DOE continued to provide the company follow-on funding nearly a year after the SEC first issued a subpoena to the company. Harris’ letter asks DOE to provide detailed information regarding the Ecotality project plan and execution, including communication between the company and the agency in the weeks surrounding its initial award and follow-on funding.
In addition to requesting more information on Ecotality and the NCDC, Harris’ letter asks for detailed information on recent alternative vehicle spending at DOE, as well as on the status of President Obama’s goal to put one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. “While some advanced vehicle technologies may be worthy of targeted and limited governmental support, the Administration’s record spending of over $13 billion to develop, produce, and deploy alternative vehicles has generated great concern regarding the potential for waste, duplication, cronyism and inappropriate ‘picking of winners and losers’ among competing companies and technologies,” Harris added.
A full copy of the letter can be viewed HERE