2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Two bills from the Senate and House of Representatives that would radically reform U.S. tax policy for the first time in three decades are now being reconciled by a joint committee from both houses of Congress.
No public hearings on those bills have been held in either chamber, and the legislation is closely guarded. It would be fair to call the process unusual.
For electric-car shoppers, however, one particular provision of any final bill that emerges could prove critically important.
The version of the bill that passed the House eliminated the income-tax credit for purchase of a plug-in electric vehicle, effective January 1 of next year.
The bill passed by the Senate retained the credit.
Now a group of 22 U.S. mayors has issued a statement strongly urging the retention of the tax credit as a benefit to air quality, U.S. innovation, and even jobs.
2017 Tesla Model 3 and Model S in Tesla assembly plant parking lot, Fremont, CA, November 2017
Last Thursday, mayors from cities including Atlanta, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Newark, Oakland, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, and San Francisco, among others, issued a letter addressed to all members of the conference committee.
It urged the members to preserve the Federal Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicle Tax Credit, also known as 30D in the tax code.
A few excerpts from the letter include:
Electric vehicles afford Americans greater energy independence by reducing demand for imported fossil fuels ... dependence on foreign oil creates both an economic and national security risk.
The increased consumer demand for electric vehicles that arose through this tax credit has resulted in the creation of 200,000 new jobs in the U.S. automobile industry.
The lifetime cost of ownership of an electric vehicle is significantly lower than that of a traditional internal combustion engine vehicle. Owning an electric vehicle provides working American families with financial savings that they can put towards other needs.
First 2018 Nissan Leaf produced at assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, Dec 2017
The letter was supported by numerous environmental and energy-policy groups, among them Securing America's Future Energy, known as SAFE.
On the same day, the Electric Drive Transportation Association sent a broadly similar letter to the House and Senate chairs of the reconciliation committee, Rep Kevin Brady and Senator Orrin Hatch.
Given the highly unusual process for such major legislation, the consensus among analysts and reporters in Washington, D.C., is that some form of bill is likely to pass.
What provisions it contains, however, very possibly won't be known until after that happens.