Build GREEN Act: Why This Gets Us Charged Up

March 25, 2021 5:43 pm

It can sometimes be difficult to wade through the flurry of sustainable energy bills being proposed in Congress. Several of them are in various stages of the legislative process at any one time, and many never make it out of committee. However, the recently announced Build GREEN Act seems destined for the President’s desk at some point soon, as it comes during a time when crumbling infrastructure and the need to create jobs has become a priority for the current administration. It also has the backing of five powerful progressives in Congress – Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) along with House Reps Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Andrew Levin (D-MI).

Senate Floor Photo Courtesy of Jacobin Magazine

What is the Build GREEN Act, then? According to Common Dreams, the bill “would invest $500 billion over 10 years in state, local, and tribal projects to galvanize the transition to all electric public transportation – reducing climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions and health-threatening air pollution while expanding clean mass transit and creating up to one million new jobs.”(Read more in that article here: https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/03/19/democrats-unveil-build-green-infrastructure-and-jobs-act.) What’s more, knowledgeable sources say $150 billion of that (fully 30%) would be allocated toward electric rail, vehicles and charging equipment.

Naturally, EVCS is poised to take considerable advantage of this green mobility stimulus as we expand into new states lacking in EV infrastructure or tackle major projects like the revitalization of the West Coast Electric Highway. Approximately 85% of funding would come from the federal DOT’s budget, which would then be distributed to state, local and tribal governments, port authorities and transit agencies to hire or partner with local contractors of their choosing. It seems likely then that companies such as EVCS with a proven track record, widespread reach and similar goals toward nationwide electrification are well positioned to become preferred government contractors that can heavily influence the national discussion on electric transit.

Apparently, every state is guaranteed at least $2 billion in funding, making states with no significant charging programs a fertile field for development – think North Dakota or Mississippi. (See a comprehensive list of state-by-state funding programs here: https://evcs.com/programs.) Such a step will eventually be imperative in creating an interstate network of charging stations that will help facilitate long-distance EV travel capable of competing with ICEs. On the flip side of that coin, any one state can receive as much as $40 billion, with a state like California – where EVCS already has a deep footprint – the most logical choice for excess funding considering its large geographical size, hefty population, and the fact that Californians have already widely embraced the idea of an EV revolution.

Electric Vehicles Charging Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Two additional provisions also grabbed our attention. The first mandates that funding recipients agree to pay workers on infrastructure projects at least $15 per hour, meaning demand for skilled labor in this field will markedly increase. We have always believed in paying fair, livable, equitable wages to our workers, and this would give us yet another opportunity to back up that commitment. Second, 40% of the funding would be allotted to “vulnerable and disadvantaged” communities, both urban and rural, which is a cornerstone of the EVCS mission: to ensure Americans of all social and economic strata have access to clean, cheap, reliable transportation, whether it be public or private.

The Senators and House Reps sponsoring the bill claim that, if passed, the reduction in carbon emissions would equate to the removal of 4.5 million ICEs from our roads, representing nearly 2% of the 250 million vehicles on US roads today. While that may seem small at first glance, the environmental impact would be substantial (CarTalk says one gallon of gas creates 20 pounds of CO2, with the average car emitting about six tons of CO2 every year). It could also serve as a stepping stone to greater EV adoption across the country as people start witnessing friends, family, coworkers and neighbors going electric!

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