Republican Senator Loves His Electric Leaf

United States Republican Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander recently became a new Nissan Leaf owner and believes that charging his electric car will give him “the patriotic pleasure of not sending money overseas to people who are trying to blow us up.” The senator’s strong words may come a surprise to some, not only because of the implication that international oil dealers fund violent reprisal against America, but also because electric vehicles are often something seen as a more liberal initiative.

But perhaps it was Nissan’s decision last year to start production in Tennessee on a $1.7 billion battery and car manufacturing plant, $1.4 billion of which came from a U.S. Department of Energy loan, that spurred the Senator’s comments and action. Tennessee is one of the state’s participating in ECOtality’s EV Project, a program rolling out electric vehicles and charging stations across the county, and partially funded by a $114.8 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Nissan Leaf Lamar

image via U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander

The senator, who is leasing the vehicle out of his own pocket, is no stranger to green cars apparently. He has driven in the past  a Toyota Prius that he converted into a plug-in electric vehicle, which he charged at home by plugging it in at night. He was also the lead Republican cosponsor last Congress of S. 3495, the “Promoting Electric Vehicles Act of 2010,” which aimed to speed up the introduction of electric cars and trucks throughout the country.

Alexander is known as a moderate Republican who sits on several environmental and energy appropriations subcommittees, so perhaps his support of federal subsidies for alternative energy advancement isn’t so strange. After all, as European countries continue to heavily invest in renewable energy, America will need to stay competitive in the global market. In that case, the strangest thing about Senator Alexander may be his remarkable piano skills, some of which he once displayed on NPR.

Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of BananaStandMedia.com, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.

    • The grants are going to help push the electric car, but are they good enough? Currently we are still have to pay a lot more to go electric for a like for like car. We can only hope the mass production of batteries will bring drive the price.

    • We’re being helped a lot by the higher gas prices. We desperately need to tax gas such that it never falls below $4/gallon. Gradually increasing the gas tax and returning it to the taxpayers equally would ensure bipartisan support (mostly) and result in a more efficient fleet. This “tax & dividend” approach has a decent chance of getting traction if it were to be championed by the likes of Sen. Alexander.

    • BRA3

      I ENVY THIS SENATOR BEING ABLE TO TAKE DELIVERY ON A NEW LEAF WITH SO MANY OF US STANDING BY WAITING PATIENTLY OR NOT SO PATIENT IT SEEMS! TRUTH IS AMERICANS ARE MAD AS HELL ABOUT PAYING OUT SO MUCH FOR GAS THAT THAT IS REALLY THE BOTTOM LINE. DAY AFTER DAY I HEAR PEOPLE SAY THEY WOULD BUY THE NISSAN LEAF FOR THAT ONE REASON………..TO SEND THE MESSAGE ALL OVER THE WORLD TO THE BIG OIL COMPANIES BY THE FACT OF LIFE ONCE YOU BUY THAT LEAF YOU ARE NO LONGER BUYING GAS FOR YOUR CAR. A LOT OF GAS GUZZLERS WILL BE PARKED AND DRIVEN VERY, VERY LITTLE AS WE ARE ABLE TO BUY THE LEAF. I WILL PLAN TO PARK A LINCOLN AND A JEEP MYSELF AND MOSTLY JUST LOOK AT THEM FROM THAT DAY FORWARD!! IT WILL BE A GREAT DAY WHEN I FINALLY AM ALLOWED TO PLUNK DOWN MY CASH TO PAY FOR A NEW NISSAN LEAF! AND I AM NOT ALONE. BP, CHEVRON, SHELL, EXXON, SAUDI ARABIA AND OPEC CAN STAND BY FOR SHOCK! SURE OIL IS STILL USED FOR A LOT OF THINGS BUT YOU GOT LITERALLY MILLIONS OF FOLKS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY JUST ITCHING FOR THE CHANCE TO BUY THE NISSAN LEAF AND SEND OUR MESSAGE OUT TO BIG OIL!!! THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING. I HOPE NISSAN RECOGNIZES HOW IMPORTANT THEIR CAR IS. THIS IS A MOMENT IN HISTORY FOR ALL OF US TO SAVOR. I WILL DO MY PART BY BUYING THE CAR AND DRIVING IT AND PARKING MY GAS GUZZLERS !!!!!!