Washington, D.C.—Following the introduction today of the bipartisan Moving FIRST Act by Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Richard Burr (R-NC), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Cory Gardner (R-CO), Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) President and CEO Robbie Diamond made the following statement:
“In today’s global mobile economy, the United States must make every effort to stay at the cutting edge of the transport sector’s shift toward a digitized and electrified future. By reviving the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, this bill would prioritize the integration of connected, autonomous, shared and electric vehicles into our transport system—improving safety and efficiency, and strengthening our economic and national security by reducing the country’s oil dependence in its national transportation network.”
The bill would authorize the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to create the SMART Grant program, which would fund a variety of smart city initiatives including autonomous vehicles, connected vehicles, next-generation 5G internet connectivity, transportation network company business models like Uber or Lyft, paratransit services, technology-enabled freight delivery, drones, smart grid technology, and electric vehicles.
The bill would appropriate a total of $100 million annually for:
As seen previously in the DOT’s Smart City Challenge, these grants are an excellent opportunity to leverage federal dollars. Challenge winner Columbus, OH managed to turn the initial $50 million prize into a $500 million investment from the private sector. The competition also had the added benefit of encouraging 77 cities to submit well-researched plans on how they would improve their transportation systems with new technology.
Currently, the United States is the world’s largest oil consumer, accounting for one-fifth of daily global supply. Seventy percent of U.S. crude oil consumption is used to power a transportation system that is 92 percent dependent on oil. Oil’s uniquely global pricing structure ensures a disruption in supply anywhere affecting prices everywhere, meaning our reliance on oil condemns the U.S. economy to remain exposed to oil price volatility, regardless of how much oil is produced domestically.
“These proposed grants would improve citizens’ quality of life by addressing gaps in mobility for underserved communities—and with electric drivetrains central to this effort, they promise to significantly enhance U.S. energy security by precipitating a large-scale, long-term shift away from oil as our dominant transport fuel. We commend Senators Cortez Masto, Burr, Sinema, and Gardner for taking this step to maintain American global technological leadership, improve U.S. transportation and enhance our energy security,” Diamond added.
About Securing America’s Future Energy
Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) is an action-oriented, nonpartisan organization that aims to reduce America’s dependence on oil. Near-total dependence on petroleum in the transportation sector undermines the nation’s economic and national security, and constrains U.S. foreign policy. To combat these threats, SAFE advocates for expanded domestic production of U.S. oil and gas resources, continued improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency, and transportation sector innovations including electric vehicles, natural gas trucks, and autonomous vehicles. In 2006, SAFE joined with General P.X. Kelley (Ret.), 28th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, and Frederick W. Smith, Chairman, President, and CEO of FedEx Corporation, to form the Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC), a group of business and former military leaders committed to reducing the United States’ dependence on oil. Today, the ESLC is co-chaired by Frederick W. Smith and General James T. Conway (Ret), 34th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.
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