WASHINGTON (Reuters) – FedEx Chief Executive Frederick Smith will testify before Congress on Wednesday as U.S. lawmakers begin a push for a massive hike in infrastructure spending and push toward electric vehicles, congressional aides said Thursday.
The previously unreported testimony will come at a hearing before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee titled “The Business Case for Climate Solutions” and is also expected to include testimony from electric utility PG&E Corp.
Representative Peter DeFazio, a Democrat who chairs the panel, said in an interview that a massive infrastructure bill will create millions of new jobs and reduce carbon emissions.
“We’re trying to make the business case — everybody else is going to go electric — you don’t have to believe in climate change,” DeFazio said.
Last week, FedEx said it planned to become carbon-neutral by 2040 and will invest $2 billion in vehicle electrification, sustainable energy, and carbon sequestration. FedEx also said its entire parcel pickup and delivery fleet will be zero–emission electric vehicles by 2040.
Amazon.com in 2019 pledged to make the largest U.S. e-commerce company net carbon-neutral by 2040 and to buy tens of thousands of electric delivery vans. A number of automakers and start-up companies are working to develop electric-vehicle pickups and larger delivery vehicles.
Lawmakers will look at private-sector actions addressing climate change, with a focus on surface transportation, aides said.
A FedEx spokeswoman declined to comment on Smith’s testimony.
DeFazio met with Democratic President Joe Biden and House lawmakers last week. Biden made the business case for electric vehicles, or EVs, at the meeting, DeFazio said, and raised General Motors Co’s goal of ending production of gasoline-powered passenger vehicles by 2035.
“(Biden) talked about the Chinese eating our lunch, the Chinese want to dominate the electric auto market,” DeFazio said. Biden told lawmakers “We can’t let that happen,” DeFazio added.
Democrats want to boost electric buses, see thousands of new charging stations installed and facilitate the large electric trucks coming to market. DeFazio backed legislation this week to give the U.S. Postal Service $6 billion to make its next generation of delivery vehicles nearly all EVs.
DeFazio says adopting a vehicle miles-traveled fee to pay for infrastructure before a Sept. 30 highway funding deadline is not realistic. He said a gasoline tax hike could still be part of paying for infrastructure improvements.
He said his “tentative timeline” is to have an infrastructure bill approved by his committee in May. “It is going to be green and it is going to be big,” he said.
Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis
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