Molly Parzen: Biden’s EV plan propels strong economic future in Pittsburgh and beyond

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Pittsburgh is world famous for its manufacturing heritage and beautiful natural scenery. As our region and all of Pennsylvania moves into the future, we must make sure we protect both. We can strengthen the middle class through Pennsylvania’s 717,000 union members, create more jobs using the more than $17 billion that President Joe Biden’s infrastructure act provides to the Commonwealth, and we can reduce emissions from carbon and limit the devastating impact of climate change in the process.

A clear path to follow? Electric vehicles.

Not only will electric vehicles improve air quality and create good American jobs, but Pennsylvania is getting $171 million of the Presidential Infrastructure Act just to invest in electric vehicles. And that’s something we’re already good at — Pittsburgh in particular is at the forefront of the next wave of automotive success.

Carnegie Mellon University Vehicle Electrification Group has been at the forefront of electric vehicle studies since 2009, and the university’s racing team undergraduates build and drive fully functional electric race cars. This town is also home to the Wabtec battery locomotives that Biden announced last month are purchased by Union Pacific Railroad and built in Erie in a $100 million deal.

On top of all that, the Pittsburgh City Council has introduced legislation to further electrify city service vehicles with funds from the Biden administration’s U.S. bailout. Pennsylvania already has charging station projects completed or underway in 46 of our 67 Pennsylvania counties, and plans are in place to ensure charging station accessibility in rural and urban areas. This local readiness coupled with increased federal funds makes us more than ready to embrace electricity.

And manufacturing materials for cars and public charging networks will strengthen our workforce.

Pittsburgh, in particular, is a strong union ready to take on the task of expanding our nation’s fleet of American-made electric vehicles. The President’s Infrastructure Act is expected to create hundreds of thousands of good jobs in Pennsylvania and increase our ability to compete globally. These vehicles will use American steel, the projects will employ union workers, and we will produce materials, parts, and batteries right here at home. China is currently overtaking us, but that is about to change. We are the way forward – for our workers and our planet.

Ensuring clean air, clean water and a healthy environment for our communities is my top priority. Transportation is the most polluting part of our country’s economy, producing the most greenhouse gases of any sector. In Pennsylvania alone, the 12 million registered vehicles on our roads create almost half of the nitrogen oxides in our air. Fumes from vehicles also contribute to climate change, affecting every part of our lives, from temperature extremes to access to clean drinking water. Non-electrical pollutants from vehicles enter the lungs of our children, harm the health of the elderly, worsen conditions like asthma, and hurt us all.

Electric vehicles, however, have zero tailpipe emissions. A rapid transition to electricity would allow us to reduce nitrogen oxides in our air by 27% over the next decade. On top of that, electricity saves the average driver up to $1,000 a year in fuel costs, and this technology saves hundreds of billions of gallons of oil over time. Switching to electricity would reduce air pollution, reduce the spread of harmful toxins, and ensure that our most vulnerable children and communities are better protected from harm.

And that’s why the bipartisan infrastructure bill is also just a first step. In addition to taking full advantage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, we also call on Congress to pass Biden’s Climate planthat would expand those initial investments and provide even more funding to electrify municipal fleets, including school buses and public transit.

Now is the perfect time to act on electric vehicles. We have a President standing by our side, using his administration to support cities and states in going electric; a strong union workforce in Pittsburgh and throughout Pennsylvania that is ready to lead; and an influx of billions of dollars in federal funds from the bipartisan Infrastructure Act to invest in this plan.

We don’t have to promote our environment at the expense of our industry, or vice versa. By embracing electric vehicles, we are prioritizing both and putting Pennsylvania on the path to success.

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