It starts by standing up to Chinese state-owned enterprises.
The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis – a special Congressional panel established in 2019 with the mandate of exploring ways to address climate change – held a hearing on Tuesday that caught our eye.
Now, astute readers of this blog know that the Alliance for American Manufacturing is supportive of efforts to clean up our environment.
We think manufacturers can and should do their part to lower greenhouse gas emissions, and thankfully many already are stepping up to the plate. And we’ve also sounded the alarm about the link between trade and climate change, pointing out that when we depend countries like China for products big and small, we essentially are importing our pollution.
But anyway, back to the hearing, which examined how heavy-duty public transportation impacts the environment.
We were excited to see that Ryan Popple, the president and CEO of zero-emission battery-electric bus maker Proterra, Inc., was among the panelists. Founded in Colorado in 2004, Proterra is now headquartered in Silicon Valley and manufactures its buses at factories in the City of Industry, Calif., and Greenville, S.C. Proterra employs more than 500 people, and has made buses for communities in 36 states, the District of Columbia and even two Canadian provinces.
Proterra is an example of an American manufacturer that is tackling a problem head-on, working to reduce carbon emissions while also supporting job growth and local economic development. But that’s not what got our attention.
What did were the opening remarks from ranking member Garrett Graves. The Louisiana Republican echoed Chair Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), who said America “can lead the world with well-paying jobs as we transition to clean energy.”
And Graves also pointed out what we shouldn’t be doing:
“We had hearings in the transportation committee, where I also serve, where BYD, a Chinese bus manufacturer, was coming in — and it appears to be a state-owned enterprise — coming in and knocking out domestic bus manufacturers, and being subsidized by the Chinese government. Coming in and assembling buses in California, in some of our own communities, only to undercut price, knock out domestic production of those same types of vehicles, therefore giving China an advantage.”
AAM President Scott Paul testified at that hearing, and he noted that BYD’s business model is to assemble its buses in the United States, but heavily rely on imported parts and components. (Compare that to Proterra, which sources more than 75 percent of its materials in the United States, supporting jobs up and down the transportation supply chain.)
BYD now has set its sights on dominating world auto sales by 2025, which as Scott Paul noted “would threaten over 5,600 parts suppliers spread across the nation, employing 871,000 workers, the very heart of American Manufacturing.”
Graves argued that Congress should work to ensure “that American companies, that American laborers, have an opportunity to work in this space.”
Fortunately, there’s one thing Congress can do right now to stand up for American manufacturers and workers.
The House recently passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included language to prohibit federal transit dollars from being spent on electric rail cars built by state-owned or state-controlled enterprises from countries like China. The Senate also passed similar language in its version of the NDAA, but that legislation applied to both rail and buses.
The bill is now headed to conference, and we hope that the final legislation approved by Congress will mirror the Senate version and apply to both rail and buses. There’s an opportunity for a win-win here – doing something substantial to address climate change while also supporting job creation and economic growth – but only if Congress steps up to the plate. Please join us in telling Members of Congress to support this vital effort.