During Senate Hearing, Senator Debbie Stabenow Advocates for Infrastructure Needs in Michigan and Combating the Climate Crisis
Stabenow Brings Michigan Priorities to Her First Committee on Environment and Public Works HearingWednesday, February 24, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Debbie Stabenow today spoke at a U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing to highlight how investing in transportation infrastructure will grow jobs in Michigan and combat the climate crisis. Senator Stabenow introduced Governor Gretchen Whitmer at the hearing and they discussed the urgent need to increase federal investment in infrastructure like roads and bridges, while prioritizing innovation and clean energy.
“Our companies are investing tens of billions of dollars on the future right now. They cannot get there without a partnership with us. China has invested $100 billion to get ahead of us. To build these new vehicles, we are going to need a number of battery cell plants to be able to deal with the new technology and the parts that are needed. This is very exciting because we have all kinds of new clean energy jobs in manufacturing to give us the supply chain to be able to do it. But, China is already out there trying to own all of this, as well as the charging infrastructure. So we really are in a competitive race that we can win,” said Senator Stabenow during the hearing.
Senator Stabenow’s Question:
SEN. STABENOW: “When we’re talking about electric vehicles, I certainty feel like we’re in the Michigan wheel house. I appreciate so much Governor Whitmer being with us this morning as well as Governor Hogan.
“Let me just add to the discussion on this, I couldn’t agree more that we have to look at our financing around transportation given where we are going. I would also say this that our companies are investing tens of billions of dollars on the future right now. They cannot get there without a partnership with us. China has invested $100 billion to get ahead of us. To build these new vehicles, we are going to need a number of battery cell plants to be able to deal with the new technology and the parts that are needed. This is very exciting because we have all kinds of new clean energy jobs in manufacturing to give us the supply chain to be able to do it. But, China is already doing it—they are already out there trying to own all of this—as well as the charging infrastructure, as well as all of it. So we really are in a competitive race that we can win. Right now, the majority of the expertise and technology is in America. But, it won’t be unless we are partnering with them to get there.
“So I would just say we not only need charging stations, we’ve got to deal with range anxiety, how folks can drive across the country on these wonderful new vehicles, not only small vehicles. Your F150 truck is going to be all electric Mr. Chairman coming next year with Ford. As well as all kinds of others - I could do ads for all kinds of vehicles.
“But the other thing I would say is until we get to the price point for consumers as well, the consumer tax credit that we have had in place that is now running out needs to be continued for a piece of time until we get the volume up. It is like any other type of technology, until there is enough purchasing power, you don’t see the price go down. So electric vehicles, the cost points, and having the supply chain to be able to do this.
“So I just have one question as we conclude, I appreciate all of our witnesses, but I want to ask Ms. Sheehan, from your vantage point as president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, if Congress were able to meet the entirety of the investment backlog, you’ve indicated there’s the investment backlog is $836 billion for highways and bridges and $122 billion for transit. If somehow we could reach all of that or reduce it substantially, what would that mean to economic growth as we come out of the economic crisis and the pandemic?”
MS. SHEEHAN: “Thank you Senator. First and foremost, it would create immediate economic stimulus across the country.
“Jobs in transportation are good paying jobs. Given the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, investing in infrastructure would truly help with Build Back Better. Further to that, we at state’s DOTs are in the business of asset management. We want to make the most financially sound investment in our infrastructure, reducing the life cycle costs of operating out infrastructure. And so if we can address the back log and move forward in a way that we can maintain the existing system and a good state of repair that will save taxpayers’ money into the future. When we allow things to fall apart it can cost four times to ten times as much to build the infrastructure back and have it in a good state of repair.
“As the owners of this infrastructure trying to manage it as effectively as possible, we really want to address that back log and then move forward in a new day with a much more efficient way to maintain our systems. More than that I talked about the high number of fatalities on our systems. These investments would save lives. We would be making long term safety improvements, we would be improving quality of life for communities, building sidewalks and bicycle and pedestrian facilities that are fantastic ways to stimulate economic activity in downtown areas. And we would be addressing different aspects of quality of life, improving access and opportunity for every American.
SEN. STABENOW: “Mr. Chairman, I just want to say that one of the reasons I’m so pleased to be on this committee is that I think this committee has the opportunity to fundamentally change the future for our country and for our citizens and this is a huge part of it, so thank you.”
Senator Stabenow’s Introduction of Governor Whitmer:
“Thank you so much Chairman Carper and Ranking Member Capito. I have great confidence in both of your leaderships. I am looking forward to really important work in a number of areas, particularly around surface transportation reauthorization. And thank you for bringing together this distinguished panel to offer their collective insights and perspectives on how to address our nation’s pressing transportation needs.
“I first have to say that I want thank Governor Whitmer for her outstanding leadership in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as I know Governor Hogan. I can’t image more difficult decisions than the ones that you’ve had to make certainly in Michigan to keep people safe and save lives. So, thank you. And I know Governor Hogan has had the same challenges.
“I am very pleased that Governor Whitmer could join us today to speak about investing in infrastructure and what it means to the State of Michigan and to the Midwest and to our country and frankly our future. You have her biography in front of you, but I would like to add a few additional comments.
“Governor Whitmer was elected in 2018 in part because of her promise to fix Michigan’s aging infrastructure systems. Since being elected Governor, she put forward bold proposals to address the condition of Michigan’s roads and bridges. She launched the Rebuilding Michigan Program to rebuild the state highways and bridges that are critical to our local economy and carry the most traffic. So I look forward to hearing her thoughts and ideas on how we are addressing climate change through infrastructure that’s creating good-paying jobs and leading us to a more sustainable future.
“So I welcome Governor Gretchen Whitmer from the great state of Michigan.”
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