The U.S. military’s newspaper, Stars & Stripes, recently reported that the Pentagon is buying Chevy Volts in a 1,500 electric-vehicle purchase, as part of the Defense Department’s “green initiatives,” which seek to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign energy sources.
A recent Congressional Budget Office study challenged the assumption that electric vehicles have any impact on such dependence, prompting the question of why the government is spending money this way. Against the backdrop of the attack on our embassy in Benghazi, and looming embassy security cuts due to sequestration, it appears politics and ideology are trumping common sense.
A little poking around the web raises additional questions about government Volt purchases. A State Department contract from March of this year details the purchase of a Chevy Volt for $47,500 for use at a U.S. embassy in Norway. The sticker price for a 2013 model year is $39,145 (before the $7,500 tax credit upon individual purchase). Obviously the government doesn’t get a tax credit because it’s not an individual income tax filer. But it left me wondering, why did the State Department pay $47,500 instead of $39,145? Why did they pay an extra $8,000?
Then I noticed that the State Department also paid over $108,000 for another contract, dated May of this year, for a Volt-specific charging station at our embassy in Vienna, Austria. But according to GM’s Volt FAQ site (“Charging” –> “Charging station — Preparing for your Volt”):
Every Volt comes standard with a 120V portable charge cord that can plug into most common household outlets and will fully charge a Volt in about 10 hours, depending on outdoor temperature. You can also have a 240V charging station (additional cost plus installation) professionally installed in your home that will reduce the charging time to about four hours.
Even if a consumer needs an electrical converter, the 240V dedicated charging stations cost, at most, around $2,000 (and guess what? consumers get tax credits for these, too). What did the embassy spend the extra $100K on?
And this is where it actually starts to get ridiculous. The State Department also recently threw a big party (photos of two Chevy Volts at the event here) to celebrate the “greening” of the American Embassy in Vienna. There’s actually a “League of Green Embassies” website.
As it relates to Benghazi consulate security, sequestration will gut $129 million from embassy security, maintenance and construction budgets. The State Department should be devoting its sure-to-dwindle resources to security guards and/or equipment in order to prevent a repeat of the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and the others in Libya.
These Chevy Volt-related purchases are symbols of misguided Obama administration priorities. I’m sure these two embassies aren’t the only places the government has spent money on environmental idealism instead of practical security measures.