Pursuit of Electric Vehicles Makes US Reliant on China, GOP Lawmaker Says

Lawrence Wilson
By Lawrence Wilson
April 21, 2023News Clips

The rapid conversion of the U.S. transportation system to electric vehicles (EV) will increase dependence on China for a critical link in the U.S. supply chain, according to Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.).

Zinke raised the concern while questioning Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about the effect that proposed federal rules for vehicle emissions would have on the U.S. supply chain. The questioning occurred during an April 20 House subcommittee hearing on the Department of Transportation’s proposed 2024 budget.

The rules announced on April 12 would result in 67 percent of new passenger vehicles and light trucks being EVs by 2032, along with 50 percent of buses, 35 percent of short-haul freight trucks, and 25 percent of long-haul freight trucks.

Zinke, who served as secretary of the Interior Department during the Trump administration, noted that China controls, directly or indirectly, the bulk of minerals needed for the production of EV batteries.

“Are you aware that to meet the demands [of the plan] today that the U.S. would have to increase mining by 2,000 percent for 20 years?” the Montana Republican asked.

Buttigieg said the United States is working to pare its dependence on China for its supply of critical minerals and that the composition of batteries may change in the future. But he acknowledged the country is currently unable to produce its own supply of EV batteries.

Pete Buttigieg
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg testifies at a Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies hearing in Washington on April 28, 2022. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

“There’s no question that we’re going to need to source more minerals, both domestically and from friendly countries,” Buttigieg said.

Zinke affirmed the goal of working toward clean energy conversion but said the pace of change would undercut our desire for energy independence.

“We all want cleaner, better, more efficient (transportation),” Zinke said.

“But your stated goal, and President Biden’s, and my stated goal, and certainly President Trump’s, is the same: We seek energy independence,” he added. “We seek energy dominance, so we’re not held hostage by foreign entities. And how do you get to be energy independent when the components of EVs today are all controlled by China?”

While Buttigieg said that some public-private partnerships created by the Biden administration are aimed at increasing the production of critical minerals, he said he hadn’t read two multi-agency reports on the subject. They are a 2017 report on climate change and a 2017 report on critical minerals.

“What they clearly state is the U.S. is becoming dependent on China,” Zinke said. “Unless we change the rudder, we will be more dependent. And unless we figure out the supply chain first, our pursuit of EV makes us more dependent on China.”

The disposal of spent solar cells also is a growing concern for Zinke. Currently, more than 90 percent are simply dumped in landfills, he said.

“The concerns I have are supply chain, from the very beginning to the very end,” he said. “What are we going to do, and does that make us more vulnerable to a potential adversary?”

From The Epoch Times

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