A broad coalition of industry and government organizations has urged members of Congress to oppose an amendment to the highway reauthorization bill that the House Transportation Committee is considering.
The amendment would allow electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at interstate rest areas, undermining the current prohibition on the sale of goods and services to motorists at rest areas and hurting existing businesses and local governments.
The coalition that opposes this amendment includes NATSO, representing truck stops and travel plazas, the National League of Cities, National Association of Convenience Stores, National Restaurant Association, National Federation of the Blind, National Retail Federation, Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America, Asian American Hotel Owners Association and the National Tank Truck Carriers.
Amendment 019, authored by Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Calif., would allow EV charging stations at rest areas located on the interstate right-of-way. Policies to advance the adoption of EVs should foster a dynamic and competitive marketplace that encourages private sector investment in EV charging infrastructure, and avoid harming those businesses best positioned to accelerate EVs in the market.
“NATSO supports policies to encourage investment in EV charging infrastructure. Many of our members have already made these investments, and others are actively exploring them. The alternative fuel corridor grant program that provides a core component of this legislation would go a long way toward increasing EV charging infrastructure at retail fuel stations throughout the country,” says Lisa Mullings, president and CEO of NATSO.
“We support such grant programs. The last thing we should do, however, is undermine that progress by allowing EV chargers on the Interstate, from an advantaged location. If this occurs, private businesses will be forced to reconsider investing in EV charging,” she adds.
Federal law prohibits states from offering commercial services at rest areas built after 1960. This includes EV charging stations. Congress prohibited states from offering commercial services at rest areas along the Interstate Highway System specifically so that private sector entities would grow and provide the services needed by travelers.
Both NATSO and the coalition of stakeholders opposing the Napolitano Amendment support smart policies to encourage EV charging investment. The organizations would oppose allowing sales at rest areas of gasoline, diesel, food, beverages or any other products sold by off-highway businesses.
Offering electric charging services at rest areas would allow states to enter into direct competition with the private businesses already operating near the interstate exit interchanges to meet the fueling needs of the motoring public. If state governments preempt consumer demand for this new technology, they will effectively destroy the incentive for private sector investment.
NATSO earlier this year partnered with ChargePoint, the largest EV charging vendor in North America, to create a National Highway Charging Collaborative. The collaborative will deploy charging at more than 4,000 travel plazas and fuel stops in the next decade to significantly increase access to charging as EV adoption accelerates. As part of this collaboration, NATSO and ChargePoint also oppose policies that discourage private-sector investment in EV charging, such as the Napolitano Amendment.
To read the coalition’s full letter urging Congress to oppose the amendment to the highway reauthorization bill, click here.