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The U.S. senator spoke at the 2021 Roadmap Conference on mobility hosted by Portland nonprofit Forth.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff MerkleyForth, a local non-profit organization devoted to advancing electric, smart and shared transportation, held its annual Roadmap Conference this week. In keeping with the times, the event was held virtually with a series of remote speakers and presentations.

The conference was programmed along four separate topics, called tracks, covering new vehicles and mobility innovations, charging infrastructure, impact on communities, and cutting-edge emerging technologies. Each track offered unique panel discussions and other learning opportunities.

Overarching the conference, a number of notable speakers addressed participants, including Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, who was interviewed by Forth's Executive Director Jeff Allen on congressional priorities for electrifications.

In a wide-ranging, 40-minute conversation, Merkley spoke of efforts to extend EV rebates and incentivize investments in charging infrastructure, and commented on ending the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles.

"We need the Zero Emissions Vehicle Act, which would say we're going to end the sale of new gasoline-powered cars in America," Merkley said. "My first legislation on that said by 2040, but now it's 2035. We have to do it faster, and in sync with what other nations are envisioning."

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg

The keynote presentation was by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. The presentation focused on the Biden administration's proposed infrastructure plan and its effect on transportation and mobility.

"The transportation sector is this country's largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions," Buttigieg said. "That means we have to recognize that transportation, being such a big part of the problem, also carries an opportunity to be the biggest part of the solution."

Expanding on the Biden administration's proposed American Jobs Plan, the secretary discussed the importance of mass transit, specifically on low-income and underserved communities, before pivoting to electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.

"The president's plan aims to make electric vehicles an affordable option, not a luxury item, for middle and lower income families by providing new rebates and incentives to buy American-made EVs," Buttigieg said. "Our plan calls for replacing 50,000 diesel transit vehicles and electrifying at least 20% of our yellow school bus fleet. We're also aiming to electrify the postal service."

Throughout his remarks, Buttigieg returned to the economic and environmental advantages of investment in new mobility solutions.

"Cutting emissions in half by the end of the decade is a key part of the administration's mission to build back better, and we're going to do it creating millions of jobs, ensuring our economic competitiveness, and advancing environmental justice," he said.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan

United States Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan also recorded a message for conference attendees, focusing specifically on climate change.

"The climate crisis demands aggressive action," Regan said. "A critical part of meeting our climate goal is encouraging adoption of zero emissions vehicles. We recently took a major step towards restoring California's authority to enforce stringent greenhouse gas pollution standards and zero emission mandate for new vehicles."

For a full listing of the topics and speakers at the Forth Roadmap 2021 conference, visit the website.


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