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Buttigieg Pitches Biden’s Infrastructure Plan at EV Conference

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg addressed the opening session of the Forth Roadmap Conference this week, stressing the need to transform the transportation sector as a central effort to combat climate change.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg
The U.S. secretary of transportation used his time in front of electric vehicle advocates and industry leaders to rally support for the president’s struggling infrastructure plan, and to advocate for a cleaner transportation future.

Addressing the opening session of the virtual Forth Roadmap Conference, Sec. Pete Buttigieg called President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal “the most ambitious investment in U.S. jobs since the end of World War II. It carries the potential to create millions of good union jobs in the industries of the future, including electric vehicles.”

Even after trimming down the infrastructure proposal to $1 trillion, the president still faced resistance from congressional Republicans. Last week, Biden ended an effort to reach a bipartisan deal, leaving Democrats to go it alone if a bipartisan compromise is ultimately out of reach for the president’s most lofty domestic agenda, which includes sizable initiatives to combat climate change.

“Right now we have an administration that is rightly putting climate change at the center of our agenda,” said Buttigieg in his recorded remarks at the Forth conference. Forth is a nonprofit EV advocacy group with a number of industry members.

The Biden administration aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. The transportation sector is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

“We can’t meet that ambitious goal without clean, modern, resilient infrastructure,” said Buttigieg.

“That means, we have to recognize that transportation being such a big part of the problem also carries an opportunity to be the biggest part of the solution,” he added.

The secretary reiterated the president’s plan to invest some $174 billion into electric vehicle infrastructure, incentives and other measures to help make the cars more commonplace and affordable than they already are. Today, only one in 50 new cars sold is an EV.

“The American Jobs Plan aims to change that,” said Buttigieg, stressing a plan to build a network of 500,000 public charging ports, as well as replacing 50,000 diesel transit vehicles and electrifying at least 20 percent of school bus fleets.

“Cutting emissions in half by the end of the decade is a key part of the administration’s mission to build back better, and we’re going to do it, creating millions of jobs, ensuring our economic competitiveness and advancing environmental justice,” said Buttigieg.

“We’re living in a moment that only comes around every few generations, with a chance to transform our nation’s infrastructure, making it cleaner, safer and more equitable,” he added.
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.