Oregon EV industry gears up for 2013 agenda

Daniel Bates lobbies on behalf of electric vehicle companies as a partner in the Oregon office of Thorn Run Partners.

Daniel Bates lobbies on behalf of electric vehicle companies as a partner in the Oregon office of Thorn Run Partners. You can reach him at dbates@thornrun.com.

With a hat tip to an overused adage by legendary Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill: “Politics is local.” As such, Oregon’s emerging electric vehicle industry should be examining the results of the election and find on-the-ground ways to showcase the industry’s significant positive impact.

First, the federal opportunity.

Congress essentially kept the same political balance. Democrats picked up two new caucus members in the Senate, which they control, and narrowed the margin of the Republican-controlled House by nine votes. A significant opportunity for the EV industry is that Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., will chair the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Wyden is a significant supporter of accelerating technologies critical to next-generation vehicles and related fueling infrastructure, and the committee chair could be a key post for advancing the EV industry.

In the last Congress, legislation designed to boost electric vehicles was introduced and some received hearings. For example, The Promoting Electric Vehicles Act, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., would have authorized significant funding for the sector. Post-election, it’s likely the legislation will be introduced again in 2013.

While President Barack Obama, a significant supporter of electric vehicle adoption and deployment, was re-elected, Washington D.C. is full of speculation about who might leave the administration and their likely replacement. Department of Energy Secretary, Stephen Chu, is widely considered to be a candidate for departure. Former North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan is often discussed as a potential replacement. Dorgan was the original sponsor of the 2010 version of The Promoting Electric Vehicles Act and can be assumed to be a significant supporter of the industry.

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