A recent bill finds conservatives getting real petty about electric cars.
A “funny” “quirk” (some might call it a foundational precept) of modern American conservatism is how much its adherents love-love-love the free market until, suddenly, it doesn’t suit their very specific needs. Like, for instance, the ongoing proliferation of electric vehicles, which — as more and more car manufacturers get in on the market — have become increasingly common in cities nationwide. Get this: It seems people actually like driving a car that is less environmentally hazardous and saves them oodles of cash by not needing a full tank of insanely expensive gasoline every couple of days. Go figure!
This, you’d think, is a perfect example of how the market is supposed to work: A new product is introduced, and people are free to spend their money accordingly. But that, evidently, doesn’t sit right with a cadre of Republican lawmakers in North Carolina who have introduced a bill to demolish — literally — one of the primary reasons people are starting to buy EVs in the first place: public charging stations.
Introduced in the North Carolina state legislature this spring, the innocuously named “Equitable Free Vehicle Fueling Stations” bill, if passed, would allot tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars for the destruction of existing public EV charging stations if local authorities don’t build free gas and diesel pumps alongside them. As for free charging stations on private property, don’t worry, the bill has a plan for those too:
Any person who is engaged in a business where electric vehicle charging stations are provided for use by the public at no charge shall ensure that each customer of the business, without regard to whether the customer uses the charging stations, is informed of, on the receipt for purchases, the percentage of the amount of the customer’s total purchase price that is a result of the business providing electric vehicle charging stations at no charge.
... So basically, forcing business to snitch on EV users by stoking resentment among their general clientele who otherwise wouldn’t care one way or another. Unless, that is, they’re the sort of pedant who also wants to know what percentage of their bill goes to paying for public restrooms, or sponsoring a local little league team, or other wholly inconsequential stuff that no ordinary person would ever think to focus on.
At a certain point, if the bill’s sponsors are so worried about equitability in civic spending, are they going to also force towns to demolish street lights unless they also build natural gas lamps alongside them? Are local businesses going to have to start itemizing their annual budgets in each receipt they hand customers? As Car and Driver writer (and North Carolinian) Ezra Dyer noted earlier this week, the basic premise of the bill is marred by the fact that not only do EVs keep money within the US (where electricity is generated locally) rather than pouring outward to petroleum-producing countries, but the proliferation of EVs also can help keep gas costs down by lowering demand, forcing suppliers to cut prices in return.
Not that that actually seems to matter to the bill’s sponsors, who would seemingly rather spend $50 grand to destroy existing infrastructure for no other reason than the free market doesn’t seem to be going their way these days.