Dingell to propose $4.5 billion annually for electrification infrastructure

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  • Debbie Dingell
    American politician

Mar. 12—WASHINGTON — Congress would invest $4.5 billion annually in electrifying the transportation sector over the next several years under a bill Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, plans to introduce Friday.

The money could be used for installing electric vehicle charging equipment, developing medium- and heavy-duty vehicle chargers, implementing battery recycling projects, retooling manufacturing facilities that have stopped production or would otherwise stop production soon, and other projects, according to a draft bill seen by The Detroit News. Projects paying laborers prevailing wage would be prioritized.

"Everybody's talking about electric vehicles are the vehicles of the future, and manufacturers under the Biden administration are changing their production lines to meet that, but we don't have the infrastructure in this country," Dingell said.

It's necessary to accelerate the development of EV infrastructure because consumers won't buy them until they can have confidence they'll be able to charge them, she said: "We want to move to electric vehicles, to carbon-zero emissions as soon as we can, but we can't do that without the infrastructure."

The bill also would direct the Department of Energy, headed by former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, to update existing building codes to encourage the installation of electric vehicle charging parking spots and renewable power equipment. And it would require states to consider ways to promote electrification of its transportation sector.

The major Detroit automakers have indicated they're speeding toward electrification and hope to compete globally in the emerging market. If the government can make it easy for U.S. consumers to buy an EV, Dingell said, Michigan will benefit.

"We're going to be selling vehicles. We want people to buy electric vehicles, and they're not going to buy electric vehicles unless they can afford them, they're confident they'll have the range and they'll be able to charge them," Dingell said.

President Joe Biden campaigned on a promise to roll out half a million electric vehicle charging stations across the U.S. and switch the federal fleet to electric vehicles. He's also promised to support other incentives for EV adoption, including additional consumer tax incentives and federal investment in research and development.

The bill will be included in an infrastructure package spearheaded by House Democrats. Once introduced, it will go to the House Environment and Public Works Committee for consideration. If passed in the Democratically-controlled House, it would likely require at least 10 Republican votes to go to the president.

"I think that people understand that if we're going to be competitive in the future that we have to build out the electric vehicle infrastructure," Dingell said. "And because of that, I'm hopeful this will get support in the Senate."

rbeggin@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @rbeggin

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