Tesla ‘adviser’ to Biden administration
The Biden administration contacted Tesla on his first day in office, marking the start of a series of meetings on the subject between federal officials and companies linked to the electric vehicle industry over the following months, according to emails viewed by Reuters.
The White House’s outreach to Tesla’s opinions and positions thus shows that, despite a public grudge match between Biden and Tesla founder Elon Musk, Biden’s team attempted early on to implicate the automaker in the one of his main political initiatives. Biden has set a goal of making half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 zero-emission vehicles.
Increased reach of the US renewable fuels standard: a priority for Biden
The administration’s early and extensive outreach shows that expanding the scope of the U.S. Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) to make it a tool for electrifying the nation’s fleet is one of Biden’s priorities in the fight against climate change. The RFS, which dates back to 2005, is a federal program that requires transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain a minimum amount of renewable fuels. Until now, it was mainly a subsidy for corn-based ethanol. New winners and losers defined in 2022
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which administers the RFS, is expected to unveil the proposed changes this year, setting out new winners and losers in a multi-billion dollar market for credits, known as RIN, which has so far supported corn and agrofuel producers.
Towards a rule benefiting players in the EV sector
Early signs indicate the administration is leaning toward a rule that benefits automakers like Tesla, giving them the most access to “e-RINS, or electrical RINs.” But the reform could also extend the subsidy to related industries, like vehicle charging companies and landfills that supply renewable biogas to power plants. “Automakers are going to really, really like this rule,” Maureen Walsh, director of federal policy at the American Biogas Council, said at a conference in May.
The idea of including electric vehicles in the RFS standard is gaining ground
The idea of including electric vehicles in the RFS has been on the table for years, but gained momentum when Biden’s transition team focused on electric vehicles as a solution to the climate crisis. Transportation accounts for more than a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
The EPA said it is consulting “all interested stakeholders” in its review of the RFS policy.
EPA and Tesla are working on how to integrate EVs into the RFS
On the morning of Biden’s presidential inauguration in January 2021, EPA staffer Dallas Burkholder emailed prominent Tesla lobbyist Rohan Patel in view to hold a meeting on how to integrate electric cars into the RFS, according to the documents reviewed by Reuters. They scheduled a meeting a week later.
Since then, the EPA has had additional meetings on the subject with Tesla, groups representing biogas producers like Waste Management and Republic Services, and charging station companies like ChargePoint Holdings, according to the documents.
Tesla is looking to tailor the RFS in its favor
Tesla is seeking changes to the RFS that will allow it to earn renewable fuel credits based on volume of kilowatt hours driven or similar metrics, according to two sources familiar with the plan. The company has also explored partnerships with biogas producers to give them leverage in any market emerging from the new normal.
The EV charging industry sector is also pushing
Members of the vehicle charging industry are also pushing. Matthew Nelson, a lobbyist at Electrify America, a group of charging companies, wrote to the EPA in October and told them that e-RINs would do more than any other policy to meet Biden’s 2030 goals of 500,000 stations. recharging and 50% of sales of electric vehicles. Adding that charging companies needed the credit to compete with gasoline. The United States currently has about 48,000 charging stations, concentrated around coastal regions, according to data from the Department of Energy.
Biogas producers want their piece of the pie
Biogas producers, like landfills, also want credits, arguing that they provide renewable fuel to the grid that generates electricity for electric vehicles.
Electricity derived from biogas is already eligible to generate RIN (credits). But the EPA never approved an industry request because it has yet to determine the best way to trace the power entering electric vehicles back to its origin. In 2020, landfill gas generated approximately 10 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, or 0.3% of utility-wide electricity in the United States. “We believe the implementation of the electricity program in the RFS aligns well with the climate goals of the Biden administration,” Carrie Annand, executive director of the Biomass Power Association, wrote to the EPA.
Agrofuels strongly criticized
The current RFS requires petroleum refiners to blend ethanol and other biofuels in the fuel pool or buy RIN (credits) from those who produce it. This policy spurred an economic boom in the agricultural belt states. But it has also angered environmental groups who say the extra corn production is damaging land and water while prolonging the era of the internal combustion engine.
Our opinion, by leblogauto.com
Biden is a staunch supporter of the electric vehicle industry, pinning much of his climate hopes on getting more EVs on the road. The bipartisan infrastructure bill passed last year included $7.5 billion for new electric vehicle charging stations. Biden has also sought to restore tax credits that have become obsolete with the aim of helping consumers acquire new vehicles.
As for EV manufacturers, the charging station sector and biogas producers… you can count on them to lobby for a piece of the cake of this new windfall that is coming…
US President Joe Biden rarely mentions Tesla’s name in public. But the fact remains that privately, his administration has leaned on the electric carmaker to help craft a new policy that allows electric vehicles (EVs) to benefit from lucrative national renewable fuel subsidies. .