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Biden Electric Vehicle Plan Expected After Summit (Corrected)

April 22, 2021, 1:30 PM; Updated: April 23, 2021, 9:44 PM

The Biden administration said it will create an additional plan for green procurement in July, after meeting the deadline in a January executive order to publish a clean energy and electric vehicle buying plan for federal agencies this month.

President Joe Biden‘s executive order outlining the administration’s initial climate change goals requested a plan by the end of April to leverage the federal government’s $600 billion annual procurement budget.

“When we’re talking about timelines, we really are focused on the fact that this is leading by example,” said Katy Kale, the General Services Administration’s interim political leader.

The administration has framed its push to stock up on electric vehicles as a way to encourage companies and consumers to invest in the technology. That promise has so far been tricky: most of the electric vehicles that GSA signed off on in the first quarter of 2021 are hybrid, meaning they use some fuel and aren’t fully electric. The Postal Service, an independent agency, signed a $6 billion contract with Oshkosh Corp earlier this year for a fleet of potentially gas-guzzling mail-delivery trucks. Officials likely lined up those purchases before Biden took office.

The president is bringing together dozens of foreign leaders, corporate executives, and union heads for a two-day virtual summit on climate change beginning today. The U.S. ranked third for electric vehicles sold in 2020, according to Bloomberg vehicle sales data, behind China and Germany.

Charging Poses Challenge

For the vehicle portion, the administration is targeting zero-emission vehicles, such as those powered by batteries and hydrogen.

The biggest challenge for the administration will be how to charge them, and the agency is gathering information on the topic, said Charlotte Phelan, assistant commissioner for the Office of Travel, Transportation and Logistics.

The market also offers few, if any, zero-emissions options to meet certain agencies’ needs, such as the Interior Department’s use of medium-duty trucks to carry equipment over dirt roads in remote areas.

The president also has said he wants the government to buy electric cars made in America by union workers. No such vehicles exist. Sonny Hashmi, a federal acquisition policy official, told reporters Tuesday that government investment in electric vehicles could help create American jobs. He pointed to a deal that will allow SK Innovation Co. to manufacture batteries in Georgia.

Separately, the GSA has launched a task force to advise officials on increasing the energy efficiency of federal buildings, Kale said. The agency is also receiving advice on how to incorporate civil rights concerns into how and where federal facilities are built. Jacqueline Patterson, director of the NAACP’s climate justice program, is part of that effort, Kale said.

(Clarifies that administration will publish plans in April and July. )

To contact the reporter on this story: Courtney Rozen in Washington at crozen@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bernie Kohn at bkohn@bloomberglaw.com; Cheryl Saenz at csaenz@bloombergindustry.com

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