House GOP investigates Energy Sec. Granholm’s EV road trip: ‘Taxpayer-funded publicity stunt’
The House Oversight Committee launched an investigation Tuesday into a summer electric-vehicle road trip taken by Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm meant to promote the Biden administration’s green energy agenda.
But Ms. Granholm’s four-day excursion in June included a tense altercation with local law enforcement after a staffer used a gas-powered vehicle to save an EV charger for the secretary, boxing out a family with an EV waiting for a charger on a hot summer day.
“This taxpayer-funded publicity stunt illustrates yet again how out of touch the Biden administration is with the consequences of policies it has unleashed on everyday Americans,” Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, Kentucky Republican, and fellow panel member Rep. Pat Fallon, Texas Republican, wrote in a letter to Ms. Granholm.
“Your fleet of EVs could not complete the trip without the support of the fossil fuel industry, which you and the Biden administration have been intent to vilify and destroy,” they wrote.
The committee demanded information by Oct. 10 about the purposes, costs and planning of the trip, which covered 770 miles from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Memphis, Tennessee. Mr. Comer and Mr. Fallon also requested a staff-level briefing by Oct. 3.
The Department of Energy did not respond to a request for comment.
The House GOP probe comes after the third-ranking Senate Republican, John Barrasso of Wyoming, made a similar request for information earlier this month.
The outing, documented by an NPR reporter, was meant to promote the hundreds of billions of dollars from the Inflation Reduction Act and the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that the administration is putting toward green technologies and EVs.
The EPA is proposing stringent tailpipe emission rules that would force automakers to aggressively phase out gas-powered cars and sell mostly EVs by 2030.
However, Ms. Granholm’s trip underscored the challenges of long-distance travel with EVs that are limited to just a few hundred miles in range before requiring a lengthy recharge. Her entourage included three EVs, in addition to staff and security using gas-powered vehicles.
At one point, NPR said a Granholm staffer used their gas-powered vehicle to travel ahead of the group to reserve a fast charger for the secretary in a suburb of Augusta, Georgia, by blocking access for others because the trip was behind schedule. A family with a young child and in need of a charge on the “sweltering” day grew so irritated that they phoned police.
Local authorities were unable to take action because it is not illegal for non-EVs to use such spots.
Staffers’ solution was to force other EVs to use slower chargers until fast-charging spaces were available for the family and Ms. Granholm.
“The combination of anti-energy policies and China’s consolidation of critical minerals necessary for EVs has left American domestic energy producers searching for answers, just like you and your entourage were left searching for chargers,” the House Republicans wrote to Ms. Granholm.
The California Energy Commission has estimated that a ratio of one public charging port per seven EVs will be needed to effectively make the EV transition. There are currently about 140,000 public charging outlets in the U.S. for 3.7 million EVs — a ratio of 26 EVs per charger, according to an analysis released this week by auto industry lobbying group Alliance for Automotive Innovation.