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Biden's promise to 'buy American' is backed by billions in clean energy investments

The recently passed infrastructure law provides over $7 billion for the creation of a national electric vehicle charging network.

By Oliver Willis - March 02, 2022
President Joe Biden and climate adviser Gina McCarthy

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Joe Biden reaffirmed his commitment to “buy American,” an idea he has sought to make a centerpiece of his administration.

“We will buy American to make sure everything from the deck of an aircraft carrier to the steel on highway guardrails are made in America,” Biden said.

Since taking office, the president has authorized billions of dollars in clean energy investments that have contributed to reaching this goal.

In his remarks Tuesday night, he noted that as part of the effort “to win the economic competition of the 21st century,” especially against China, the United States will “build a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations.”

Biden also praised commitments from Ford and General Motors, who have said they will spend a combined $18 billion to fund the domestic manufacturing of electric vehicles.

And his administration has announced several more initiatives relating to clean energy that dovetail with the push to “buy American.”

In February, the Departments of Energy and Transportation announced that states can apply for $5 billion to build out a network of electric vehicle charging stations along the 46,876-mile Interstate Highway System. Funding will come from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Additionally, the Infrastructure Act will finance grants of $2.5 billion to build electric vehicle chargers in rural and underserved regions.

When campaigning for the presidency in 2020, Biden repeatedly said his goal was 500,000 charging stations. Currently, there are 120,000 such stations in the country.

Elizabeth Gore, a senior vice president at the Environmental Defense Fund, told CNBC, “Building out a national network of charging stations will mean less pollution, more jobs and cleaner cars.”

Earlier in February, Biden touted an announcement by Tritium, a manufacturer of electric vehicle chargers, that it would be opening a manufacturing facility in Tennessee. The company said that its facility will produce up to 30,000 chargers compliant with the Build America, Buy America Act, a component of the infrastructure law. Tritium also said they expect their facility to create 500 jobs in Tennessee.

“They’ll use American parts, American iron, American steel,” Biden noted in a speech on Feb. 8.

The infrastructure law will additionally provide $7 billion in loans for a program designed to create a domestic supply chain for batteries used in electric vehicles.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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