EV Backer, But Not For The Usual Reasons

The group Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) is staking out an interesting position, combining advocacy of plug-in electric vehicles with its pro-hydrocarbons agenda. This is an view that treats climate change and the environment as non-issues, and instead focuses exclusively on U.S. energy security, with the assumption that foreign oil, although abundant, hangs over the country like a sword of Damocles.

“Plug-in electric vehicles are a strategic weapon to combat oil dependence,” Robbie Diamond, SAFE president and CEO, says in a statement. “With as much as 90 percent of global oil and gas reserves held by national oil companies — many of which are in countries that share neither our values nor our goals — the global oil market is not a free market. Electrification offers the opportunity to break the oil monopoly in the transportation sector.”

plug-in electrics, Securing America's Future Energy

image via Nissan

There are scholars — like Cato senior fellow Jim Powell — who reject the energy security argument. They assert that in a global market, it doesn’t matter where oil comes from, there will always be “sellers who need cash.” But SAFE, which identifies itself as a bipartisan group, feels so strongly that foreign oil is a threat, it is urging policymakers to support the wider adoption of EVs in order to move the United States away from gasonline-powered cars.

“It is essential to put the cost of supportive policies in context of the total cost of our oil dependence,” Diamond says. “Every technology experiences challenges, and electric vehicles are no different. But to stop, or even slow down support for an industry that has the potential to dramatically improve our economic and national security would only jeopardize the nation’s prosperity and security.”

The statement in support of government backing for EVs comes as conservatives use the Solyndra bankruptcy to hammer Obama administration support for alternative energy and transportation technologies, and amid attacks on electrics arising from the Chevy Volt fire controversy.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.