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Pete Buttigieg fears ‘radical policy shift’ on EVs that could cost US jobs

By Jake Beardslee · January 4, 2024

In brief…

  • Government shutdown could severely impede air traffic control improvements and other transportation priorities.
  • Plane collision in Japan highlights importance of continuing US aviation safety investments.
  • Massive Tesla recall over flawed autonomy tech shows risks of over-relying on imperfect driver aids.
Transportation Secretary Buttigieg argues that policy reversals, government shutdowns, or complacency around safety risks could dangerously disrupt positive recent transportation developments.  Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America/Wikimedia

In an interview with Yahoo Finance’s Brian Sozzi, Buttigieg explained that a shutdown would “stop us in our tracks” on expanding the air traffic control workforce, which has declined for decades leading to major strains. Preparing for the last shutdown threat alone wasted substantial time, effort, money and energy, Buttigieg noted.

While recent Department of Transportation actions like the Southwest fine have improved industry performance, Buttigieg fears progress could halt with a shutdown. Buttigieg stated that the probability of an actual shutdown has increased due to concerning congressional dynamics. He emphasized that shutdowns are not a “game” but would impact real lives and government duties.

Regarding potential removal of EV tax credits, Buttigieg said, “A radical policy shift like that would dramatically undermine the American auto industry, at the very moment when there have been so many gains in a made-in-America EV revolution, under the Biden-Harris administration.”

The Secretary referenced the recent plane collision in Japan as demonstrating the importance of aviation safety investments and regulations. Buttigieg affirmed the US maintains the world’s safest aviation system. He explained that the FAA studies global incidents and close calls vigilantly for potential safety lessons.

Buttigieg also discussed the massive Tesla recall over flawed “Full Self-Driving” software. He noted that as automotive technology advances, software issues are increasingly behind recalls rather than just hardware. Buttigieg reiterated that cars still require complete driver attention and control at this stage of automation. He warned that relying too much on imperfect driver assistance systems creates real dangers. Buttigieg affirmed the DOT will address any safety concerns rigorously, including potential future recalls if necessary.

Moreover, Buttigieg touted the Biden administration’s support for domestic electric vehicle manufacturing. He warned that possible future reversals of EV incentives by figures like Trump could severely damage US automakers investing in the critical transition. Buttigieg argued that failing to lead on EVs cedes ground to foreign competitors, risking American jobs and communities.