Last fall, Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment Jobs Act (IIJA), creating an important down payment to bolster our transportation infrastructure and invest in the future of clean mobility. Across the nation, communities will benefit from these investments. Michigan will receive billions of dollars to fix roads and bridges, replace lead pipes, and more, including substantial investments in clean mobility solutions such as $1 billion to improve public transportation and another $110 million to build electric vehicle charging stations.
Meanwhile, Congress has continued to consider additional investments, but timing and the specifics have been a moving target. What is clear, is that the transition to clean transportation will benefit Michigan’s auto industry, support good-paying jobs, lower families’ transportation costs, and help make our air healthier to breathe.
Why are investments in clean transportation so important? In Michigan, 20 percent of jobs are tied to the mobility sector. And automakers — many of whom have strong footprints in Michigan — are announcing grand plans to electrify their vehicle offerings, meaning that Michigan jobs will transition, too. Smart, bold policies that support cleaner mobility technologies in a way that creates good-paying union jobs, grows domestic industries, and advances environmental justice is an imperative.
To that end, legislators in D.C. are considering additional bills that present a huge opportunity for Michigan to continue investing in our clean energy economy — across buildings, transportation, industry, electricity, agriculture, and sustainable practices in our lands and waters. Modernizing our transportation sector can be accomplished through direct grants and tax incentives, along with support for training, education, and innovation.
Additional policies being considered could create tax incentives for job creators to expand electric vehicle manufacturing and help states like Michigan, the birthplace of the automobile industry. A new tax credit for commercial zero-emission vehicles, covering up to 30 percent of the cost per vehicle, would accelerate the transition away from gas and diesel by making new electric vehicle technology more affordable for consumers. In addition, this policy would expand tax credits to include facilities producing zero-emission medium and heavy-duty vehicles, like delivery trucks and school buses.
If passed, the Clean Heavy Duty Vehicles program would provide trucking, the backbone of our economy, $5 billion in grants. $9 billion would also be granted to electrify the United States Postal Service trucks and provide infrastructure for the General Services Administration. For vehicle manufacturing, a critical industry in Michigan, $3.5 billion would be allocated to help car manufacturers transition to producing plug-in electric hybrid, plug-in electric drive, and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.
It’s important to recognize that impacts of a poor air quality don’t affect every Michigander equally. Minority and traditionally underserved communities face far more detrimental economic, environmental, and health impacts. That’s why these programs have a large environmental justice component with a strong focus on investments, training, and re-training for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.
Additional policies being discussed would provide support to Michigan’s eight minority-serving institutions and the students they serve, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs). This will help train America’s workers for the jobs of the future — including manufacturing, tech, clean energy, and clean transportation.
The members of Michigan’s U.S House delegation who supported the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act deserve credit — and now we need U.S. Senators to step up and vote to get these additional policies across the finish line. It’s time to rev the economic engine of the state that birthed the automotive industry, create new jobs, lower transportation costs, clean our air, and empower people with the skills to build a prosperous future for our state.
— Jane McCurry is executive director of Clean Fuels Michigan, a nonprofit trade organization comprised of businesses and industry stakeholders dedicated to advancing the future of clean mobility.