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Biden Administration Officials Fan Out in Md. to Promote Electric Vehicles

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg listens as U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm speaks at a service station with electric vehicle chargers in Takoma Park Tuesday. Photo by Josh Kurtz.

For the second day in a row, high-ranking members of the Biden administration came to Maryland on Tuesday to promote the administration’s “Build Back Better” legislation — and particularly to tout a new program designed to put more electric vehicles on the road.

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited RS Automotive Inc., a former gas station and auto repair shop in Takoma Park that has become a charging station for electric vehicles, to announce that their agencies are collaborating to establish a network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers across the U.S.

The two cabinet secretaries have signed a memorandum of understanding to create a Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, which would help to distribute $7.5 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure law that President Biden (D) signed earlier this fall.

“We are embarking on a transformative path to modernize the way we get to around in this country, making sure all Americans have the option to choose electric vehicles and spend less at the pump while making our air healthier,” Granholm said.

Granholm and Buttigieg arrived at the service station — the first in the U.S. to convert from gasoline pumps to electric chargers — in an electric car supplied by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“Thanks for entrusting me with your life,” Buttigieg joked.

The two officials said the new law would allow for the construction of half a million electric vehicle charging stations across the country, with an emphasis on rural areas. And they said it would provide a $12,500 federal tax credit for people who purchase electric cars — big enough to make the vehicles affordable for many families.

“The whole idea here is so we can make electric vehicles toward parity with gas vehicles, if not lower,” Buttigieg said. “…We’re close enough so that a tax credit could make all of the difference.”

Among those attending the cabinet secretaries’ news conference were Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart and state Del. Lorig Charkoudian (D-Montgomery).

On Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris (D) toured the Prince George’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation maintenance building in Brandywine, where four electric buses that will be put on the road early next year are being tested.

Harris was joined there by Granholm, White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy, U.S. Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), U.S. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), and County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D).

SemaConnect, a Bowie-based business, installed the charging stations at the Brandywine facility, and Hoyer said Maryland is ticketed to get $63 million from the federal government to install charging stations across the state.

“That is the power and energy of infrastructure investment,” he said.

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