Buried deep inside the mammoth “infrastructure” bill that a handful of Republicans helped send to President Joe Biden’s desk is an ominous paragraph about forced labor in China and the Communist Chinese Party’s role in the supply chain needed to grow a fleet of electric vehicles in the U.S. One of Biden and the left’s top priorities of shutting down fossil fuels in the United States could not only allow China — despite human rights abuses — to profit but could also have a devastating impact on American jobs. On the eve of Biden’s election, Breitbart News reported the then-candidate’s energy policy that in Michigan alone could cost 160,000 energy sector jobs, decimate the auto industry, impede manufacturing operations, increase home heating expenses, and create California-style rolling blackouts in the Great Lakes State. According to the text of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, one paragraph mentions China and asks for an analysis from Secretaries of Energy, State, and Commerce 120 days after the bill became law: SEC. 40436. STUDY ON IMPACT OF FORCED LABOR IN CHINA ON THE ELECTRIC VEHICLE SUPPLY CHAIN. Not later than 120 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary, in coordination with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Commerce, shall study the impact of forced labor in China on the electric vehicle supply chain.
The Fierce Electronics website wrote about what consequences that could pan out: The Biden administration is also a big supporter of electric vehicles and wants hundreds of thousands of EV charging stations built. The infrastructure plan approved by the Senate includes $7.5 billion for EV charging infrastructure and stations (half of what the administration wanted) and a complicated series of rules for where and how they could be built.
There is clearly consternation in Washington. If China feels U.S. condemnation of its treatment of human rights is too great, then exports to the U.S. of materials and components made in China that are used to make EVs, including batteries and even actual vehicles, could be reduced or cut off. In addition to Biden’s repeated support for domestic chip production is his administration’s support for a secure supply chain for batteries and materials that can be used in EVs. China dominates the EV supply chain, according to many studies. BloombergNEF intelligence summarized the tally: China has control of 80 percent of the worlds’ raw material refining, 77 percent of the world’s cell capacity and 60 percent of the world’s component manufacturing. “China’s dominance of the industry is to be expected given its huge investments and the policies the country has implemented over the past decade,” said James Frith, head of energy storage for BNEF in a report from 2020. At least one Democrat claims electric vehicles will be built by American workers. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said on the Senate floor the infrastructure plan makes a record investment in electric and low- or no-carbon buses “so they can be built here, not in China.” “When contacted by Fierce Electronics about the EV study and what questions it would answer, a State Department official said the department as a general rule doesn’t comment on pending legislation,” the website reported. “Energy and Commerce officials did not respond.” Follow Penny Starr on Twitter or send news tips to email@example.com.
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