Yesterday, I spent the day down at the Louisiana State Capitol advocating for electric vehicles and clean energy while my state’s lawmakers were having their session. I learned a lot. The event was a spur-of-the-moment thing put together by a few Tesla owners in Baton Rouge — many of whom couldn’t attend due to it being extremely … spur of the moment. However, we had to do something — our state lawmakers are deciding on whether or not to end the state’s EV tax credit two months early. As of today, SB8, which aims to end the state’s EV tax credit early, went to the House floor and received a unanimous vote in favor. It’s been ordered to the state Senate.
At first, I wasn’t going to attend since I don’t have a car and public transportation isn’t the best here, nothing like in Atlanta or Dallas, and buses stop running pretty early. With the Uber and Lyft driver shortages, I’ve been getting stranded more often than not. However, a friend in the Tesla community gave me a ride to and from the event even though he couldn’t attend himself (he had to work). Naturally, many EV owners see this as an important matter. However, there were only a few of us who were able to come to support and advocate for EVs in our state. We had pizza, biscuits, water, and coffee to help promote better EV awareness.
The conversations I’ve had with random lobbyists, legislative members, and even members of the media were enlightening, to say the least. I’ve never been inside the state capitol here, and usually when I write on topics, it’s from that perspective of someone looking in from the outside.
And since I follow EVs and Tesla really closely, I forget that others don’t. And many of those who don’t follow these topics only get their information from mainstream media headlines or through word of mouth. I spoke with a gentleman today who told me that “they” wanted to get rid of oil and gas. He said it in a tone of voice that reflected fear and panic. He explained that he wasn’t a fan of EVs because, in his opinion, the battery technology just wasn’t there.
I also spoke with Susan Nelson, who has driven a few EVs and shared her thoughts in the video below. She echoed the first gentleman’s thoughts regarding batteries.
Susan sharing her thoughts on EV batteries. pic.twitter.com/9UEKr6t3Sy
— Johnna Crider (@JohnnaCrider1) June 2, 2021
She explained that although she liked the technology in EVs, her concern was about batteries. “I’m really concerned about where we need to be on the batteries and the long-term costs. Still today, a combustion engine car is gonna be cheaper in the long run than an electric vehicle. And so, battery technology is not gone as far as I think it needs to go and so we really need a lot more research and investment in that technology so that we can make it a viable option.”
Not only is she mistaken in this thought, but she isn’t the only one. This idea that we don’t have the battery technology and that an ICE vehicle is cheaper than an EV is very prevalent, especially here in the deep South. Louisiana, being an oil and gas state, ranks as the 47th state for electric vehicle adoption. According to Drive Electric Louisiana, electric vehicles make up 0.08% of total vehicles registered in the state compared to 0.49% in the US.
I also spoke to a few journalists who were there and one of them told me that he thought Elon Musk was doing great things. He didn’t want to go on camera saying that and one of the Tesla owners who was there explained that he couldn’t. In some cases, reporters and journalists can’t show their support for a topic or stance, such as Elon Musk, Tesla, and electric vehicles — it would show bias and they could lose their jobs.
Louisiana Needs EV Awareness, Education, & Advocacy
There are EV owners — mostly Tesla owners — who reside in our state and advocate the best of their abilities. There’s also me — a writer who is advocating for clean vehicles and clean energy. However, we are like a few specks of sand in an ocean full of salt, or in the case of Louisiana’s political climate, oil. The fossil fuel industry is intertwined with our political system here, and unless this industry decides to evolve into an industry that focuses on renewables and clean energy, we actually represent a threat to that industry and its supporters.
This threat is what filled that first gentleman’s voice with worry and fear. “They want to get rid of gas,” he told me. He’s right, we do want to get rid of gas and fossil fuels. Clean technology is here and ready to replace fossil fuels.
The issue is that this giant industry has filled the heads of politicians, lobbyists, consumers, and citizens with the fear that if we lose big oil, we lose everything. They think that we will lose jobs, funding, and so much more. To the state of Louisiana, fossil fuels are what keep us alive — it’s like the oxygen to our economic body. This is what they believe and have been conditioned to believe, and that if we take that away from them, we take away their ways of life.
Perhaps this deep innate fear is what’s keeping many Louisianans away from electric vehicles. That and the myths about batteries that are marketed to them by competing industries.
We Need To Go Beyond The Bubble
Tesla owners and other EV owners often live in a bubble. We preach to the choir. I could go on Twitter and talk up EVs and get over a hundred likes on the tweet — and if Elon interacted with it, that number would be in the thousands. This is the bubble. If we are truly going to convince our friends, neighbors, and families to switch to clean vehicles, though, we need to go beyond the bubble and have conversations with people.
I could have debated Susan, but if I had, I wouldn’t have learned anything. Instead of focusing on what is right and trying to correct the misinformation on the spot, we need to fully observe the misinformation and understand why people believe it. This requires going beyond your bubble or comfort zone. Tesla owners all over the nation have done this by giving friends and family the Tesla experience.
Here in Louisiana, we need to do the same — but not just with Tesla. We need to find a way to better educate consumers while fighting the FUD, by neutralizing the industry that is doing its best to hold onto the minds of the consumers. I haven’t figured out how to do that yet.
One thing that is crystal clear to me is that many of these folks I chatted with had their minds made up about EVs and clean energy. There would be no educating or convincing them. So, I didn’t. Instead, I listened. Listening helps both sides, and for us, it shows us the challenges we have to overcome. For now, I’ll just keeping doing my part and hope that my voice makes some type of difference.
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