Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law, or BIL, will help make electric vehicle charging stations as convenient in rural America as gas stations are now.
States are due to submit plans for the $5 billion in funding by August, “and from there, I don't think it'll be much longer before you see additional chargers going into the ground ... across our highway network where we know we need to create more options,” Buttigieg said in an interview for Agri-Pulse Newsmakers.
The goal, he said, is for it to be “as easy to assume that you're going to find a charge as it is to know there'll be a gas station when you go on a road trip.”
The Transportation and Energy departments announced in February their plan to distribute $5 billion to states for the construction of electric vehicle charging stations over the next five years. The funding for the National Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program will come from the $1.2 trillion BIL, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden last fall.
Buttigieg also said the department has been in contact with stakeholders regarding the labor negotiations with dock workers along the West Coast. But he said the negotiations should not affect the supply chain this fall.
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“There seems to be always a new factor or surprise that could play a role in our supply chains,” Buttigieg said. “It's exactly why we're working on both the immediate term and the longer-term investments to make sure our supply chains are resilient, no matter what the curveball, no matter what the shock. That's what these big infrastructure investments are about in rural and coastal and urban America alike.”
The executive director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, Peter Friedmann, told Newsmakers he expects the House to clear the Senate-passed Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 next week. President Joe Biden this week called on the House to pass the bill, which the Senate approved by unanimous consent in March.
“That legislation will provide the Federal Maritime Commission with the authority to continue what it's doing and ramp up the efforts to create a transportation system for containerized agriculture export that will address some of the calamities that have befallen agriculture exports over the last two years with the supply chain,” Friedmann said.
Friedmann said this legislation will force ocean carriers to export United States agricultural products and not leave them stranded at the dock.
Other panelists were Mike Steenhoek, executive director at Soy Transportation Coalition, and Anne Steckel, a senior adviser to the National Farmers Union.
Watch the latest episode of Agri-Pulse’s Newsmakers to hear more from Buttigieg and other panelists about transportation, biofuels and the supply chain.
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