The Port of Galveston should move ahead with installing electric vehicle charging stations at various facilities along the public docks.
One of the biggest, and most reasonable, hesitations people have about making the leap from internal-combustion engines to electric motors is a relative scarcity of charging stations.
The more of them installed the better for consumers wanting to escape direct dependence on fossil fuels, for the environment, for beings that breathe and, in this case, for the port’s customer-service efforts.
The move is meant both to generate revenue for the port and to increase services for the nearly 1 million people who travel to the island to board passenger liners each year.
The port received $35,000 for the charging stations through a grant called the Texas Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Program, CEO and Port Director Rodger Rees recently told a Daily News reporter.
The program offers grants to replace or upgrade vehicles and equipment or install charges for alternative fuels, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
The port will have to pay about $39,725 to match the state money and cover the cost of the rest of the chargers, officials said.
The demand for electric car charging stations is starting to rise to a level that the port should invest in such infrastructure, Rees said.
“We feel that we have to be able to offer this,” Rees said.
The port has proposed installing 28 chargers across five parking lots, eight at the new terminal under construction at Pier 10, six each at the garage and express lot and four each at lots A and B.
The port plans to make the stations universal, meaning any electric car should be able to charge up, he said.
Adding charging stations also is a potential money-maker for the port because it can establish a revenue share with the charging company, Rees said.
The grant money comes from a $2.9 billion settlement agreement between the Environmental Protection Agency, state of California and Volkswagen over the company’s alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.
In 2015, the German auto-giant was caught rigging its vehicles to fake emissions data by reporting fewer emissions than they were actually producing.
Each state was designated some of the funds to go back into a variety of projects focused on transportation and alternative fuel sources.
Two lines of argument are typical among people opposed to the rise of electric vehicles, both sautéed to greater or lesser degrees in hypocrisy, hokum or just honest shortsightedness.
One is that electric vehicles will never be viable for a lack of support infrastructure.
It’s an odd argument, considering the same was true for gasoline infrastructure at the beginning. In fact, there were 500,000 gasoline-powered automobiles already on the road in 1913 when the first purpose-built fueling station opened, according to NCAS, which bills itself as the leading global trade association dedicated to advancing convenience and fuel retailing.
Another argument is that public or quasi-public investment in alternative fueling facilities is somehow improper.
Last summer, for example, the city of League City passed on applying to a similar program within the Volkswagen settlement money for the purchase of electric vehicle charging stations.
At the time, the council said it would rather see private entities take on the role of buying and installing the technology.
More power to League City, but that’s a laughable objection.
No industry — in fact, few things in general — on Earth has received more public largess than fossil fuels. If every level of government today began carpet-bombing the electric car industry with cash, it would take 100 years to get near the ocean of public money that has gone into oil and gas.
Today the industry benefits from direct and indirect subsidies of a least $20 billion a year, about 80 percent of that to oil and gas and 20 percent to coal.
That’s just the overt, above-board public pipeline, which is probably the least of it.
So, by all means, the port should invest the sort-of public money it has into installing as many charging stations as possible.
• Michael A. Smith