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FedEx CEO to testify as U.S. lawmakers make green infrastructure push

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - FedEx Corp’s chief executive, Frederick Smith, will testify before Congress on Wednesday as U.S. lawmakers begin a fast push for a massive hike in infrastructure spending and drive toward electric vehicles, congressional aides said Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: President, Founder and CEO of Fedex Frederick Smith arrives to meet with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York City, NY, U.S. November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The previously unreported testimony will come at a hearing before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee titled “The Business Case for Climate Solutions” and will also include testimony from PG&E Corp Senior Vice President Laurie Giammona, the company confirmed. The California-based electric utility has dedicated over $400 million in programs helping customers transition to EVs.

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 and said he expects to have a bill through his committee in May.

“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 Inc in 2019 pledged to make the largest U.S. e-commerce company net carbon-neutral by 2040 and also 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 want to 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 Shepardsonin Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Matthew Lewis

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