Pete Buttigieg – secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation – and Jennifer Granholm, secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, provided an update on the Biden administration’s transportation electrification strategy during a “fireside chat” session held during the 2023 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
[Above left to right: Nathaniel Ford, Pete Buttigieg, Jennifer Granholm, and Dr. Shawn Wilson. Photo by TRB.]
Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. – CEO of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority and outgoing TRB chairman – moderated the session with Dr. Shawn Wilson, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and incoming chair of TRB’s 2023 executive committee.
Wilson is also the immediate past president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
Buttigieg and Granholm used the session to discuss the “U.S. National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization” released by the Biden administration on January 10; a blueprint developed by USDOT, DOE, the Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency to make significant greenhouse gas or GHG emission cuts in the transportation sector by 2050.
“Transportation policy is inseparable from housing and energy policy, and transportation accounts for a major share of U.S. GHG emissions, so we must work together in an integrated way to confront the climate crisis,” Buttigieg said.
He noted during the TRB session that the blueprint not only calls for the widespread deployment of electric vehicles or EVs and the electrification of other major transportation systems, but also for increased use of transit as well.
“This plan is about mode shifting; about providing more and cleaner transit options,” Buttigieg explained. “It is also about making EVs a practical option for both urban and rural areas across the country. I am enthusiastic about this plan in part because all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have submitted plans, all approved and tailored to the needs of their specific regions, to make electric transportation a reality.”
Granholm noted that the Biden administration plans to add 2,000 gigawatts of energy to the electric grid over the coming years to support the switchover to an electrified transportation system.
“That will be renewable energy so we’re recharging EVs without creating carbon pollution from power plants at the same time,” she explained. “We’ll also be incentivizing ways to solve problems, such as the degradation of batteries from fast-charging systems. We’ll be providing grants to find solutions to that and any other future issues.”