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Key Republican signals support for augmenting electric vehicle infrastructure

Key Republican signals support for augmenting electric vehicle infrastructure
© Greg Nash

Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoPelosi: 'No intention' of abandoning Democrats' infrastructure goals Collins says infrastructure bill won't have gas tax increase or undo 2017 tax reform bill Overnight Energy: Biden seeks to reassert US climate leadership | President to 'repeal or replace' Trump decision removing protections for Tongass | Administration proposes its first offshore wind lease sale MORE (W.Va.), a key Republican on infrastructure issues, is expressing willingness to work with Democrats on electric vehicle infrastructure, but also disagreed with the size and scope of the current infrastructure package expected to be proposed by the White House.

In an interview with The Hill on Thursday, Capito, the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, mentioned working on electric vehicle charging stations as an area Republicans can support. 

“As we see GM and others pledge to be all electric by a certain date, we need to have the infrastructure in place,” Capito said. 

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She added that she doesn’t just think this should be a federal government effort, saying that “states, counties, cities and [the] private sector need to ... contribute.”

She said, however, that the Republican approach might be more incremental than Democrats’ and would focus on market incentives. 

“I’m not sure that we’ll agree on the size and scope of electric vehicle infrastructure,” she said. “There’s always a tendency, I think, on the other side to just have the federal government take the whole over and I don’t think that's going to be necessary because I think market forces are going to drive the development of this.” 

Capito added that she would support “not just full-out providing but some kind of tax incentives or some kind of credits.” 

Her comments come as the White House is preparing a massive proposal on infrastructure and other issues that is expected to cost $3 trillion.  

She said that upon hearing the price tag of the White House proposal she had “sticker shock” and thought that package seemed overly broad, based on reporting on it.

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“How do you get to $3 trillion on what I consider traditional infrastructure?” Capito said. “It includes rebuilding our schools, rebuilding housing. I mean, these are not traditional infrastructure reauthorizations as we have done them in the past.”

She also said that even though she supports some of the reported provisions, like family leave, she thinks there should be a “bipartisan discussion” on the measures. 

The Washington Post reported this week that the package would include $400 billion of spending on climate measures, including $60 billion for green transit infrastructure and $46 billion for climate-related research and development. It also reportedly aims to boost the availability of electric vehicle charging stations. 

“We want to be part of the solution, and I think those are part of the solutions,” Capito said when asked about the provisions, but cautioned, “You can’t flip a switch and have everybody drive an electric vehicle.”

“I think we would be better served to do this incrementally,” she said. “I think Republicans conceptually can agree with where we’re going but I don’t think the methods of which they’re going about this is anywhere close to what we can accept."

Capito also expressed support for more research into and expanded tax credits for a type of still-developing technology called carbon capture, utilization and storage. 

This technology aims to capture carbon dioxide formed from activities like burning fossil fuels. 

“Carbon capture and utilization, [carbon capture tax credit] 45Q, we have another bill that works the carbon capture re-utilization on manufacturing. I think the research development that goes along with these things is absolutely critical. It’s critical for environmental issues and climate issues, but it’s very critical for the economic issues,” she said.