US administration explains how soaring gas prices are actually ‘a benefit’

The transportation secretary says the more “pain” Americans feel at the pump, the more beneficial it is to own an electric vehicle

Soaring gas prices in the US are a “benefit” to owners of electric vehicles(EV), Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said while testifying before a House committee on Tuesday.

Buttigieg suggested that people who are currently struggling to pay over $5 per gallon of gas could offset their “pain” by purchasing an EV instead, the average price of which is over $65,000 according to automotive research company Kelly Blue Book.

“The more pain we are all experiencing from the high price of gas, the more benefit there is for those who can access electric vehicles,” the Biden administration official said before asking Republican Representative Carlos Gimenez (Florida) to subsidize EV purchases with tax credits.

Gimenez replied by noting that subsidizing EVs would not make them any cheaper, contrary to Buttigieg’s claim, and that “we’re all paying for it at the end. We’re all paying taxes.”

Another GOP representative, Thomas Massie (Kentucky), responded to Buttigieg’s suggestion by pointing out that buying electric cars would cost Americans more in energy and use even more fossil fuel-derived electricity.

“It would take four times as much electricity to charge the average household’s cars as the average household uses on air conditioning,” Massie said.

Buttigieg, along with other Biden energy and climate advisers, have frequently suggested that Americans struggling to pay for gas should switch to electric vehicles, and that the higher use of clean energy should be seen as a silver lining to soaring energy prices.

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In August 2021, the Biden administration officially announced an initiative to reach a goal of 50% electric vehicle adoption by 2030 by working with automakers and autoworkers to “drive American leadership forward on clean cars.”

In November, Buttigieg told MSNBC that families who make the switch could see a “$12,500 discount” in transportation costs. 

President Joe Biden also hailed the high gas prices in May, when he said they were part of “an incredible transition that is taking place that, God willing, when it’s over, we’ll be stronger and the world will be stronger and less reliant on fossil fuels.”

Critics of the move to switch to electric vehicles have questioned whether the country’s energy grid could even handle such a transition. During Tuesday’s hearing, Representative Massie cited a study indicating that under full compliance with Biden’s plan, an American family would use 25 times more electricity to charge their cars than they would to power their refrigerators.

“Do you think it would strain the grid if everybody plugged in 25 refrigerators in every household?” Massie asked.  

“Well, if we didn’t make any upgrades to the grid, sure,” Buttigieg responded. “If we add yesterday’s grid with tomorrow’s cars, it’s not going to work.”

He added that the work to bolster the power grid to support more EVs had already begun and that the Energy and Transportation Departments were already meeting to “map out some of the needs.”


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