U.S. senator to hold EV battery hearing if GOP takes control

Senators Blumenthal and Graham host news conference on designating Russia as state sponsor of terror, on Capitol Hill

By David Shepardson

SPARTANBURG, South Carolina (Reuters) -U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Wednesday said he will hold a hearing on electric vehicle batteries and sourcing issues if his party takes control after the November midterm elections.

Graham, who would be Budget Committee chair under GOP control, said the hearing would look at the impact of the shift to EVs on automakers and the oil industry.

"Where do the battery parts come from? Where do the raw materials come from?" Graham asked at an event to mark BMW's $1.7 billion EV investment in South Carolina. "Batteries become the new oil," he added. "South Carolina's going to become the Detroit of batteries."

Graham said he wants "the car companies to come to Congress and say, 'Here's where we're going, here's why we're going there, here's what we need from you to be competitive in this space.'"

Automakers including BMW have raised concerns that a law approved in August restructuring the $7,500 EV tax credit makes nearly all companies ineligible.

The new law includes raising the percentage of battery components that must originate from North America based on value. It also disallows batteries with any Chinese components after 2023.

Graham said the United States will never be able to make batteries entirely domestically.

"We're going to have to sit down with the Chinese," Graham said, saying the law needs to be revised. "It can be a win-win."

Graham wants to know if there are other alternatives to EVs. "Is this a religion or an industrial policy change?" Graham said. He also plans to call power company executives to discuss the impact on electricity usage. "We're going to have more than just wind and solar," Graham said. "If you don't include natural gas, you can't get there."

He also want to look at the impact of shifting away from internal combustion engines - even though he thinks oil will still be used in transportation for decades. "The ripple effect of producing electric cars is enormous," Graham said. "What do you do with the oil industry?"

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Mark Porter and Josie Kao)