U.S. electric vehicle backers say infrastructure bill falls short

U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) speaks with reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., July 22, 2021. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

WASHINGTON, July 30 (Reuters) - Some U.S. lawmakers and environmental and health groups spoke out on Friday for more funding for electric vehicles and charging stations, complaining the a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal unveiled this week fell short of what President Joe Biden sought.

The deal unveiled includes $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations and the White House noted it was the first-ever national investment but still only half of what Biden had called for to build a national network of 500,000 stations.

One big issue over the last week is how Congress would allocate $7.5 billion for electric school buses and other clean transit projects. The final deal also cut some funding for public transit systems.

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But the groups and lawmakers hold out hope Congress will do more to address climate issues and boost electric vehicles in a separate measure without Republican support that could total $3.5 trillion.

Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, won concessions to allow zero-emission buses to qualify for $5 billion of the $7.5 billion fund, aides said.

"I fought every step of the way to ensure that this legislation doesn’t put more dirty diesel buses on the roads—and you can be sure I’ll be working to fund more clean transportation investments in the days and weeks to come," Carper said Friday.

A White House official told Reuters the Biden administration "intends to continue pushing for investments in Electric Vehicles.. including expanding tax credits for electric vehicles, creation of a clean energy accelerator, and other loan and investment programs."

The American Lung Association said it wants $20 billion for electric school buses, saying it was "disappointed by the level of funding proposed for zero-emission electric school buses. It is also discouraging to see that the proposal includes funding to perpetuate the use of combustion fuels for new school buses."

The group noted "the 25 million students riding school buses in this country inhale dangerous diesel exhaust fumes."

Biden has called for $100 billion in government subsidies for electric vehicles and that issue is expected to be addressed in a larger separate funding.

In May, a Senate panel advanced legislation to boost electric vehicle tax credits to as much as $12,500 for EVs that are assembled by union workers in the United States.

The bipartisan infrastructure deal was expected to include funding to back another $7.5 billion in low-cost government loans for charging stations through an infrastructure bank, but that was dropped during negotiations.

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Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by David Gregorio

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