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Biden administration backs $5B network of electric vehicle charging stations

WASHINGTON — Biden administration officials Thursday rolled out a $5 billion blueprint to build electric vehicle charging stations along the nation’s highways using federal funds over a five-year period.

States would be allocated more than $615 million in fiscal year 2022, which began Oct. 1, to begin a massive undertaking of providing an alternative fuel source for vehicles.

Nevada would receive $5.6 million this fiscal year to construct charging stations as part of the national plan to boost confidence in the use of electric vehicles to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced the revised and updated details of the program and funding formula that was part of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure act that was signed into law by President Joe Biden last year.

Buttigieg said the program would help America “lead the electric vehicle revolution.”

It would also provide the infrastructure, Granholm said, “for drivers across America to save money and go the distance, from coast to coast.”

The bipartisan infrastructure act drew Republican support in the House and Senate, but there are opponents, most notably Elon Musk, the chief executive officer and founder of Tesla Motors.

Musk has balked at federal subsidies to build charging stations and infrastructure: “Do we need federal support for gas stations? We don’t,” he said during a Wall Street Journal summit last year.

The billionaire entrepreneur also opposes proposed tax incentives to purchase union-made electric vehicles in the United States. Tesla’s workforce is not unionized.

Still, manufacturing of electric vehicles that operate on batteries with lithium compounds, and electric charging stations built with components assembled in various states, is considered to be a jobs creator.

Electric vehicle proliferation would also reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels that produce harmful emissions, according to Biden administration officials and lawmakers who support the program.

“Electric vehicles have huge benefits for Nevada,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., said in a statement.

“Our clean transportation sector is booming, promoting good-paying jobs in the state. And electric vehicles protect the health of our children and our planet,” she said.

Under the Biden administration plan rolled out Thursday, states would receive federal funds based on a formula. The program would provide $5 billion to states over a five-year period.

Each state would have to submit plans by Aug. 1 on how it would use the money to create “alternative fuel corridors” with electric vehicle charging stations and other infrastructure. The plans must meet Federal Highway Administration guidelines.

“Americans need to know that they can purchase an electric vehicle and find convenient charging stations when they are using interstates and other major highways,” said Stephanie Pollack, deputy Federal Highway administrator.

Buttigieg said another $2 billion program to accelerate construction of electric vehicle chargers in communities would be unveiled later this year.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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