House Republicans Investigating Biden Energy Secretary’s Troubled Electric Vehicle Road Trip

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U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm speaks during a briefing about the bipartisan infrastructure law at the White House on May 16, 2022. (Elizabeth Frantz/JP)

House Republicans are investigating a road trip U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm took this summer to promote the Biden administration’s push for electric vehicles.

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) and Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas), who chairs the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs, announced their investigation on Tuesday morning after recent reports that Ms. Granholm’s taxpayer-funded electric vehicle road trip devolved into chaos.

NPR originally reported on Ms. Granholm’s EV road trip across America’s southeast. The outlet reported the trip was “intended to draw attention to the billions of dollars the White House is pouring into green energy and clean cars.” However, the trip was disrupted by struggles to find enough chargers for the various electric vehicles in Ms. Granholm’s Department of Energy entourage.

The DOE caravan reportedly consisted of at least three electric vehicles: a Cadillac LYRIQ, a Chevrolet Bolt, and an electric version of the Ford F-150. An advance team reportedly traveled ahead of Ms. Granholm’s convoy to search out chargers in order to keep the energy secretary’s road trip on schedule.

NPR reported that during one of the recharging stops, the advance team realized that not enough electric vehicle charging stations were available, so a DOE employee laid claim to one of the chargers by parking a vehicle with a conventional, internal combustion engine at the charging station. This move to occupy the electric vehicle charger for Ms. Granholm’s convoy left a family unable to access the charging station on a hot day while they had a baby on board. The family eventually called the police on the DOE employee who had blocked the charging station.

“We are alarmed by recent reports of your four-day summer 2023 electric vehicle (EV) road trip apparently intended to showcase the Biden Administration’s progress in achieving a radical green agenda,” Mr. Comer and Mr. Fallon wrote in a letter (pdf) to Ms. Granholm.

The lawmakers further noted the allegation that DOE staff caused an inconvenience for a family with an infant child that needed to charge their EV on a hot day.

The lawmakers also noted NPR’s reporting that indicated the Cadillac LYRIQ in the DOE caravan experienced what the publication referred to as an “isolated hardware issue.”

In their letter to Ms. Granholm, the two Republican lawmakers asked the energy secretary to turn over documentation pertaining to this EV road trip, including details about the planning and DOE staff involved in the trip. The lawmakers also asked for more details about the issues the Cadillac experienced during the convoy.

The Republican investigation may serve to discredit President Joe Biden’s push for a more rapid and widespread adoption of EVs.

“This taxpayer-funded publicity stunt illustrates yet again how out of touch the Biden Administration is with the consequences of policies it has unleashed on everyday Americans,” Mr. Comer and Mr. Fallon wrote in their letter to Ms. Granholm.

NTD News reached out to the DOE and Ms. Granholm for comment, but did not receive a response by the time this article was published.

The Biden Admin’s EV Push

The Biden administration is working to transition the U.S. market to electric vehicles, and has set a goal to have EVs represent 50 percent of all new car sales by 2030.

One of the challenges in achieving the wider adoption of EVs is the establishment of networks of fast-working and reliable charging stations. The NPR article about Ms. Granholm’s EV road trip notes that Tesla’s EV charging stations seem to be more reliable than other makes of EV chargers—but are not always compatible with non-Tesla EVs.

A study published by J.D. Power in August states that while more EVs are on the road and more charging stations are becoming available, customer satisfaction with the available charging infrastructure is declining. The study found that in 20 percent of cases, EV owners who visit a charging station won’t actually use that station to recharge, due to a range of problems including inoperable chargers and long waiting periods before a functioning charger becomes available.

In February, the Biden administration announced efforts to expand and standardize EV charging infrastructure around the country, as well as an agreement by Tesla to make part of its charging network available to other EVs.

Former President Donald Trump recently targeted the Biden administration’s push for more EVs. United Auto Workers (UAW) union president Shawn Fain recently signaled his support for the Biden administration’s drive for a transition to EVs, but President Trump argued that this EV strategy will result in the outsourcing of automobile manufacturing to China and a decline in U.S. auto manufacturing. UAW members are currently striking for higher wages and increased benefits.

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Las Vegas News Magazine

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