Sales of electric vehicles have surged in the past year, but the network of chargers needed to service them doesn’t exist, even though states have some funding, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. is preparing to spend up to $7.5 billion in federal infrastructure funds to build a nationwide electric-vehicle charging network, but states have already received $424 million in Volkswagen settlement money for similar efforts and spent just about 48%, according to the report.
A full 30 states have distributed most of the money they received from the VW settlement fund, while six states have yet to distribute any funds. Four states plan to use the money for other projects, according to data from Atlas Public Policy, a Washington, D.C., research firm that tracks the EV industry.
Volkswagen in 2017 was ordered to pay a $2.8 billion fine after pleading guilty to criminal charges for rigging diesel-powered vehicles to cheat on government emissions test.
Of the $2.8 billion, $424 million was made available in an Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund to every state, including Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.
Texas gave out $21 million of the settlement money on a first-come, first-served basis, in November, with 85% going to Shell and Buc-ee’s, according to the Journal.
“What determined who won these grants wasn’t a plan or thoughtful distribution,” said Tom Smith, executive director of the Texas Electric Transportation Resources Alliance, a group that advocates for greater EV adoption. “It was bot speed.”
The U.S. has about 93,000 public chargers. The Biden administration wants 500,000 by 2030. McKinsey & Co. estimates that 1.2 million are needed.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in January. “Many Americans do not have access to EV charging right now, and so many Americans live in what’s called a charging desert"— a place with almost no charging available — “especially in low-income neighborhoods, rural areas, or communities of color.”
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