WASHINGTON, D.C. — NACS, NATSO and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America are asking federal lawmakers to reject the INVEST in America Act because of its potential impact on the electric vehicle (EV) industry.
Formally known as the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act, the federal transportation reauthorization bill is being reviewed by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
The groups specifically expressed concern with two provisions that will discourage private businesses from investing in EV charging and stifle the market's transition to EV. They are:
- A provision in the Manager's Amendment that would carve out an exception for EV charging to the longstanding federal law prohibiting the sale of fuel, food and other services at rest areas. According to the groups, the ban on commercial activities at interstate rest areas has been essential to incentivizing businesses to invest in fuel stations just off America's highways for as long as the interstate system has existed.
- A provision in Section 1303 that would allow investor-owned utilities to "double-dip," receiving federal grants even if they have already raised rates on all of their customers to underwrite EV charging infrastructure investments, the groups said. This policy would discourage private investment. Fuel retailers will not invest in a technology where they have to pay for their own infrastructure — and recover those costs — while utilities have all of their investments covered by unwilling underwriters, the industry representatives added.
"This is the first time in NATSO's 60-year history that we have opposed a federal highway bill," said NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings. "We want to see smart policies to incentivize our members to invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure. That is why we must oppose this bill."
Mullings emphasized that NATSO wants to work with lawmakers to expand alternative fuels, including EV charging.
The three trade groups, representing approximately 90 percent of retail sales of motor fuel in the United States, sent a letter to the Transportation Committee members on June 17 stating that the INVEST Act will stifle the market's transition to EVs.
The groups said that the highway reauthorization bill passed last summer by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), which was supported by NATSO, "creates a regulatory framework that is far more compatible with increasing investment in EV charging infrastructure than the INVEST Act." The Senate EPW bill included grants for EV charging infrastructure along highway corridors similar to the INVEST Act, but does not commercialize rest areas or encourage utilities to double-dip.
"For decades, we've invested in new infrastructure to meet our customers' evolving fueling needs," Mullings said. "Our industry invested in diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) infrastructure when truck manufacturers began building trucks requiring DEF. We invested in infrastructure to blend and sell biodiesel and ethanol. In none of these instances did the government need to build fuel stations to meet consumer demand. New fuels have been introduced into the market before, and private businesses have always stepped up."
In February, NATSO and ChargePoint formed the National Highway Charging Collaborative to build a nationwide EV charging network including more than 4,000 travel plazas over the next decade, as Convenience Store News previously reported.
"The INVEST Act threatens that goal," Mullings said.
To read the letter, click here.