WASHINGTON—Yesterday, President Biden signed a series of executive orders that aim to “confront the existential threat of climate change,” reports the New York Times. The new administration’s efforts at lowering carbon dioxide emissions include eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and overhauling tax breaks to oil companies while promoting greater acceptance of electric vehicles and eventually replacing the U.S. government fleet with EVs.
In response, NACS and other organizations representing the retail fuel community sent a six-page letter to top government officials offering support and assistance in helping the government achieve those goals.
NACS—along with National Association of Truckstop Operators (NATSO) and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA)—addressed the letter to heads of the U.S. Transportation Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy and the National Climate Advisor, noting that “fuel retailers … are prepared to invest in any transportation energy technology that their customers desire. With the right alignment of policy incentives, the private sector is best equipped to facilitate a faster, more widespread, and cost-effective transition to alternatives—including electricity—in the coming years.”
“Science should be the foundation for transportation climate policies,” the letter said, and advised the Biden Administration to do the following:
- Establish performance goals without mandating specific technologies to allow for the benefits of innovation and technology development.
- Develop competitive market incentives to ensure a level playing field and provide long-term consumer benefits.
- Harness the existing infrastructure to help commercialize new technology, maximize diverse investments and achieve near-term and long-term emission reduction goals.
- Set consistent, uniform national policy so that the market has certainty to help it invest, and state policies do not create inconsistent or counterproductive measures.
- Ensure fair treatment so that all households are not forced to subsidize alternative energy users.
The letter warned against adopting policies “that at first blush appear to be quick and easy solutions [but] tend to have the unintended consequence of undermining retailers’ incentives to invest capital in alternative fuels.” Some counterproductive policies would include:
- Allowing EV charging infrastructure at interstate rest areas, which would discourage off-highway fuel retailers from investing in charging infrastructure, while sending a message to prospective EV drivers that they will need to refuel at often desolate rest areas rather than the off-highway travel centers, convenience and fuel retailers that offer the amenities they expect.
- Forcing ratepayers to underwrite electric utilities’ investment in EV chargers or to subsidize the cost of charging EVs. This allows utilities to operate in a guaranteed rate of return environment but without putting a single dollar at risk.
- Prohibiting fuel retailers from selling electricity to individual consumers, which discourages additional deployment of a robust EV infrastructure.
“It is exponentially less expensive to leverage existing infrastructure than create entirely new supply chains and infrastructure,” the letter said. “To the extent environmental objectives can be achieved by harnessing existing infrastructure—including removing hurdles to bringing alternative fuels to market—customers will more seamlessly gravitate to new types of fuels and vehicles. American companies have spent more than 60 years building out a refueling infrastructure system that optimizes logistics and maximizes customer benefits. Deployment of new technology that complements this infrastructure will … be less expensive and thus more likely to generate consumer loyalty.”
Noting that “it is tempting to paint a picture of how we want the world to look in 10, 20 or 30 years without focusing on the steps needed to get from here to there in a way that establishes a sustainable market that will benefit consumers and the environment,” the letter closed by offering the help of fuel retailers.
“All of our associations believe that national, consumer-focused, and market-oriented climate policy is achievable … We are eager to work with you to achieve what we fundamentally believe are mutually compatible objections,” the letter said.