Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in an interview on Tuesday that accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles will provide U.S. consumers with long-term protection against oil price shocks.
Buttigieg, speaking on Yahoo News’ “Skullduggery” podcast, was asked about high oil prices exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He said his agenda was to reduce American vulnerability by providing more alternatives to driving and more access to electric vehicles (EVs).
“If we’re going to talk about gas prices, we have to talk about…how can we build a transportation and energy system that doesn’t leave Americans vulnerable to those ups and downs?” Buttigieg said. “And that’s why US energy independence in the context of sustainable renewable energy is such an important national goal. The sooner we get there, the less we’ll have these kinds of conversations whenever there’s some sort of global shock to the system.
“We want to be a completely energy-independent country with the energy mix of the future which is driven by renewables,” the secretary added. Transportation is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change — any sector of the US economy.
Acknowledging that electric vehicles are generally more expensive than cars and trucks with internal combustion engines, Buttigieg said his department is working to make them more accessible. And he urged Congress to pass President Biden’s proposal Build Back Better Program, which includes significant tax incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles; the bill stalled over opposition from two moderate Democratic senators.
“We are actively promoting measures that will make it easier and more affordable for everyone to use electric vehicles, to drive adoption of electric vehicles,” Buttigieg said. “These electric pickups coming out of…Detroit,…these start around $40,000. Now $40,000 is still too much for a lot of American families, which is exactly why we’ve come up with, through a system of tax credits and incentives, a way to reduce that initial price to bring it back , actually, in the 20s.”
Buttigieg also mentioned that his department is raise energy efficiency standards for cars and trucks, to reduce the cost of gasoline. “We also know that most people don’t have an electric vehicle and from a climate perspective, as well as from an economics perspective, things like fuel economy for internal combustion engines, that will matter everything. throughout this decade and beyond,” he said. “Cars that are [bought] right now, those burnt gases are going to be on the road for a very long time.
To bolster consumer confidence that drivers will be able to easily charge an electric vehicle, Buttigieg touted the Department of Transportation’s current efforts to build vehicle charging stations as part of the Major Infrastructure Funding Bill. passed by Congress last year. “We need to make electric vehicles more affordable and build this national charging network because we know that if a family can afford to take advantage of electric vehicles, they will never have to worry about the price of gas again. “, did he declare.
He also shared his personal story of switching to an electric vehicle.
“The first electric vehicle Chasten and I had was a Ford C-Max,” Buttigieg said, referring to her husband and their family sedan. “We used it, but not to that extent, and it cost us around $14,000. And we plugged it into the regular wall outlet in our garage in South Bend, Indiana. And it was a plug-in hybrid, which means that, you know, for most of our trips around town, we never had to use gasoline. If we took a road trip, we had to buy gasoline.
“And so, I think another thing we need to do is just demystify electric vehicles – that they’re not all these super high-end luxury vehicles,” he added. “While fast charging is something we need to work a lot on, if you are lucky enough to live in a single-family home, you already have charging infrastructure for these things. This is called the plug in your wall.
Of course, electric cars aren’t the only way to forego gasoline and reduce the carbon footprint of transportation. Buttigieg has made expanding transit service a priority. But it’s a tough time for public transit systems, which have seen huge drops in ridership due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our public transit systems have been hit hard,” Buttigieg said. “I insisted on taking the subway to the transit association meeting a few weeks ago here in DC. It seemed weird to drive to a transit meeting, even though that’s usually the protocol for getting around Cabinet members. And on the one hand, I noticed that Metro was as clean, efficient and user-friendly as it was when I took it every day. And on the one hand, On the other hand, I noticed that Gallery Place and Metro Center, those big hubs where people change, didn’t seem as crowded as I used to be at rush hour, c that is, when I was crossing them. And that’s happening all over the country.”
Buttigieg argued that rail transit systems will require additional investment to ensure they attract potential riders. “Subways and light rail options are going to be more important than ever in the coming decade, to accommodate the kind of growth we’re seeing in many cities, and because there’s simply no way to do what we have to do on the climate if we haven’t created great options so people don’t have to lug 2 tons of metal with them everywhere they go,” he said. he stated.”And that means having superior transit as a country.”