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Electric vehicles another burden for state farms

As a member of a generational Pennsylvania farming family, I have seen the impact government regulation can have on farmers and rural communities.

Pennsylvania is home to over 52,000 farmers and 7.3 million acres of farmland. Despite being an integral part of Pennsylvania’s economy, not all family farms have the funds or resources to comply with this regulatory effort.

This is why I have concerns regarding the EPA’s recent electric vehicle mandate, enforcing 56% of cars and 30% of heavy-duty trucks to be electric by 2032. Pennsylvania farmers are committed partners when it comes to environmental progress, but this mandate is overly restrictive and burdensome.

On behalf of Pennsylvania’s vibrant agricultural sector, I encourage our lawmakers to take a stand against this onerous mandate. We need sensible regulations from all levels of government to continue to do what we do.

According to the American Trucking Association, “a diesel Class 8 truck costs roughly $180,000, while a comparable battery-electric truck costs over $400,000.” Buying just one heavy-duty vehicle at that price would be a challenge for some – but what about those who are in need of more than one new truck? That price would make it near impossible to purchase. Our members already have plenty of other expenses to worry about, they shouldn’t have to face yet another barrier to success.

Even if our members had zero challenges affording new electric semi-trucks and/or passenger vehicles, then comes the issue of refueling – or in this case, recharging. Now I commend the Biden administration for investing in attempting to fix the United States’ apparent lack of EV charging infrastructure, but its development and rate of return is not nearly where it needs to be for this mandate to be successful.

President Biden’s “$7.5 billion EV charger program to build 500,000 chargers in five years has built only eight chargers as of last December to serve EVs on interstate highways.” Not to mention, when those chargers are eventually built much further down the line, they are most likely to be built in more urban, populated areas. Per Pew Research Center, “60% of urban residents live less than a mile from the nearest public EV charger” compared to “just 17% of rural Americans.” What are rural dwellers to do?

Pennsylvania farmers who are working to support their families and those across the country will be overwhelmed with compliance and economic struggles. It is up to Pennsylvania lawmakers to right this wrong.

Matt Espenshade is president of the Pennsylvania State Grange.

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