Jon Summers: Electric vehicles are paving the way to bipartisanship this Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend begins the season for Americans to hit the road. In fact, AAA estimates 43 million Americans will travel this weekend, most of us in cars. Not to spoil your holiday weekend, but, other than bad traffic, there is bad news here. The national average for gas prices is creeping toward $3 per gallon. In some places, prices are above $4 a gallon.

All this travel is going to cost us – but not just at the pump.

Vehicle emissions contribute to poor air quality, which negatively impacts the health of Americans. In this year's American Lung Associated State of the Air report, we learned that 141 million Americans were exposed to unhealthy air during the study period. Additionally, traffic-related air pollution is causing 4 million cases of childhood asthma worldwide each year, according to a new study published by the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

ILLINOIS RESIDENTS COULD BE CHARGED $1,000 A YEAR TO OWN AN ELECTRIC VEHICLE UNDER NEW LEGISLATION

Vehicle emissions, of course, also contribute to climate change. In fact, transportation is now the single largest U.S. contributor to the emissions that cause climate change. A report from the United Nations last year found that the world has less than 12 years to curb greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.

The good news is, there’s something we can do about this – something both Republicans and Democrats can agree on. It’s time to get serious about electric vehicles.

Memorial Day traffic is notoriously painful, so as we sit and wait to get to our destination this weekend, maybe it’s time to reflect on how we are getting there.

Americans like electric vehicles. According to new data, more than four in 10 Americans said they would consider buying or leasing an electric vehicle as their next car. But Americans are more willing to buy them with incentives. More than 70 percent of Republicans and nearly 80 percent of Democrats said a guaranteed federal tax rebate of $7,500 would make them more likely to purchase an electric vehicle,

But the current $7,500 tax credit is starting to phase out as carmakers hit a 200,000-car limit on the number of tax credits per manufacturer. General Motors hit the threshold recently and the tax credit for Chevy's electric options, including the popular Bolt, has been cut in half. We shouldn’t punish a growing industry and its consumers for doing well. We should cultivate an environment to help them succeed.

In a rare show of bipartisanship, Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., along with colleagues Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Gary Peters, D-Mich., are leading the charge to extend that credit to move cars and more consumers. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., introduced the legislation in the House. The bill, the Driving America Forward Act, ups the cap on the tax rebate for carmakers, allowing more people the opportunity to go electric and take advantage of the long-term cost-saving and health benefits.

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If we don’t lead on electric vehicles, we will fall behind. In fact, we already are. The rest of the world is moving toward electrification, with places like China imposing electric vehicle mandates to phase out traditional engines. The United States has the opportunity to lead now on innovation – and jobs – while saving its own consumers at the pump.

Memorial Day traffic is notoriously painful, so as we sit and wait to get to our destination this weekend, maybe it’s time to reflect on how we are getting there.

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