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Transcript: Secretary Buttigieg Remarks in Peachtree Corners, Georgia

Friday, August 6, 2021

Good afternoon. I want to start by thanking Commissioner McMurry for his Department’s partnership with DOT; Chairwoman Hendrickson and all of the county and city leadership who are here today; and in particular—I'll turn over to her in a minute—I want to thank Representative Bourdeaux, who, from pretty much the first time we talked, was urging me to come here, and stressing the importance of supporting transportation solutions for the suburbs that don't always get the same attention or the same visits.  

We wanted to make sure to do that today. Because it is in communities and areas like this that so much depends on efficient, safe transportation. And we'll have a little more to say about that in a moment.  

I'm here for several reasons. One of them has to do with climate.  

The climate opportunity is also a job opportunity in the President's view, and in my view. And you see it right here: Just a moment ago, we were looking at a solar roadway that can literally power the very cars that drive over it.  

Yesterday, I was with the President and leaders of many of the auto companies in the US, as well as the United Auto Workers, celebrating an executive order that is challenging my agency, all of the other agencies, and really the whole country, to get to a goal of having most of our vehicles sold to be electric within a decade. This is incredibly important at a time when we recognize that the single biggest sector contributing greenhouse gases to the atmosphere is the transportation sector. 

To me, that's a challenge for us to be the biggest part of the solution. And what we see here is how economic development and climate solutions go hand-in-hand.  

It's also a reminder that while the early adopters of electric vehicles have often been thought of as being in our cities, it's actually in suburban areas and rural areas where there may be the most benefit. 

After all, you have longer commuting distances, more money that can be saved by not having to fill up, and there's a form of charging infrastructure that people who live in houses already have—which is called: the plug in your wall—supplemented by the remarkable pieces of charging infrastructure that we know are right here in this community.  

It's also about equity, because tailpipe emissions disproportionately impact communities of color and lower income communities that tend to live nearer to heavily traffic roadways and routes. Which means that we have a chance to drive health equity as well as economic development through the right kind of climate action.  

We are about to make a historic step towards supporting that at the federal level. We see here how state and local, private and philanthropic partners are already at work creating our transportation future. 

It's time for the federal government to step up and do its part too.  

With the bipartisan infrastructure deal moving through the Senate as we speak, with leadership and support from members of the house, like Representative Bourdeaux, we see an opportunity to super charge—pun intended—the transportation future of this country. 

We’re talking about an electric vehicle network like the one that’s right here, the largest in the region—but fitting that into a nationwide network of over half a million charging stations.  

Electrifying school and transit buses, so that we can protect kids from pollution and save school corporations and districts money as we go.  

To support transit—with the biggest investment the federal government’s ever made in transit—and reduce congestion.  

And again, to contribute to the emissions challenge.  

And so much more: from support for rail and ports, to what we can do for airports in a region that is served by one of the great airports in the country.  

We're so proud of what we can do. For Georgia alone, that means $1.5 billion for public transportation, $135 million for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and more for roads and bridges and all the other things we count on every day.  

So, I can't think of a better place to be right now to help tell the story. To help illustrate both the need and the opportunity. And I was just delighted to get a look for myself. 

We’ll take questions in a moment, but I want to turn it over to Rep Bourdeaux, who encouraged me to come here and take a look myself.