What Does a Biden Administration Mean for Efficient Transportation? | Alliance to Save Energy

What Does a Biden Administration Mean for Efficient Transportation?

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Alliance to Save Energy's Blog

11/23/20 / Rebecca Price

What Does a Biden Administration Mean for Efficient Transportation?

With the latest federal transportation bill on a one-year extension to next fall, one area that will surely get a lot of attention in the new Congress is our transportation system, particularly how we fund it. We know this is a priority for both parties, and President-elect Joe Biden has made it clear that transportation and infrastructure will be top priorities as the country recovers from the pandemic.

It’s well-established that transportation infrastructure investments are a boon for jobs and economic development. But infrastructure is built to last decades, so the choices the Biden administration makes on day one will have enormous impacts on our future energy use. So let’s take a look at how Biden’s campaign promises align with the Alliance’s goal of reducing transportation sector energy use 50% by 2050 (50x50).

Strengthen Fuel Economy Standards

Vehicle fuel economy standards have had the greatest impact on energy savings of any energy efficiency policy since 1975. The SAFE Vehicle rule, issued in March, undermined this progress by severely weakening national fuel economy standards. Biden has stated that his administration will negotiate more stringent fuel economy standards that will not only accelerate cleaner vehicles, but also help save consumers millions in avoided fuel costs. 

Advance Electrification

Achieving the 50x50 goal will require a transition to electric vehicles (EVs), which produce no tailpipe emissions and are, on average, two-thirds more efficient than their conventional counterparts. While there have been promising advances in the EV market in the last few years, an economy-wide shift requires strong federal leadership. To provide a clear market signal and source of demand for EVs, Biden has pledged to use all the levers of the federal government – including purchasing power, R&D, tax, trade, and investment policies.

Enhance Transit and Freight Networks

Public transit is one of the most efficient forms of personal transportation on a per-passenger fuel economy basis, and investing in rail is one of the best available options for improving freight efficiency –  trains are four times more efficient than trucks. The Biden administration wants to provide every American city that has 100,000 or more residents with high-quality, zero-emissions public transportation options using flexible federal investments, with a particular emphasis on converting all 500,000 school buses to zero-emission vehicles. Biden has stated his intention to tap into existing federal grant and loan programs at the Department of Transportation (DOT) to achieve this. He has also called for a “second great railroad revolution,” and said he would improve and streamline the process of working with private freight rail companies to electrify the rail system.

Fund R&D

Behind the scenes, R&D helps increase the efficiency of the transportation sector by bringing technologies to scale and is critical to moving the market forward. Moreover, with an almost unprecedented convergence of new technologies in the transportation sector, it’s critically important to better understand how to productively deploy these solutions. Aside from federal procurement mandates, Biden’s campaign has committed to advance the EV market by accelerating federal research on EV battery technologies. This can be achieved by increasing funding to the Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office and the DOT’s Office of Research, Development and Technology.

Train the 21st Century Transportation Workforce

To achieve the 50x50 goal, workers will need to be retrained with the skills needed to operate 21st century infrastructure. The ongoing national conversation on social justice and equity has reaffirmed the importance of working toward economic outcomes that benefit all demographics. Biden has said that he will advocate for strong labor protections that create union jobs and support training programs such as the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program.

During his victory speech, President-elect Biden voiced his commitment in working with both sides of the aisle to enact bipartisan solutions. The Alliance looks forward to working with the new administration and 117th Congress to advance transportation efficiency.  





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