Greener Infrastructure and Fuel-Efficient Cars Are Widely Popular With the Public

Graphic: Annabel Driussi for Our Daily Planet

By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer

In Pete Buttigieg’s confirmation hearing for Secretary of Transportation yesterday, he called out the “generational opportunity” at this moment to align our national infrastructure with climate goals. The American public is behind him.  According to a recent survey by Yale’s Climate Change Communications Center, 68% of registered voters support major government investment in our infrastructure. Nearly everyone surveyed (93%) supports that money going to repair and improve roads, bridges, and highways, and a majority (78%) are in favor of those roads being driven by cars with stronger fuel efficiency standards.

Why this Matters: Transportation accounts for the largest slice of the U.S. emissions pie, so tackling how the sector is powered is essential to meet emission goals. In order to get there, the federal investment in transportation will need to go beyond fixing the country’s existing roads and rails. It’s an opportunity to move past car-centric planning and create infrastructure that makes emission-free walking, biking, and electrified public transit the preferred choice. Bringing American transportation in line with climate goals also improves public health by decreasing the toxic pollution that harms the respiratory health of people living near major roads.

Infrastructure Support By The Numbers

The survey shows national interest in improving our current infrastructure, but meeting the challenge of the current moment requires changing how people and goods move — and this is where bipartisan support breaks down. Liberal Democrats strongly support a national high-speed rail system (66%) and a national system of electric vehicle charging stations (63%) but fewer than one-third of conservative Republicans support either of these initiatives. 

Of all registered voters:

  • 67% support installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the U.S. by 2030.
  • 44% support requiring all new cars, trucks, and SUVs sold in the U.S. are electric vehicles by 2030.
  • 74% support funds to repair and improve National Parks.
  • 65% support funds to install solar panels and wind turbines across the country.

“I believe good transportation policy can play no less a role than making possible the American dream,” Buttigieg said during his hearing yesterday. “But I also recognize that at their worst, misguided policies and missed opportunities in transportation can reinforce racial and economic inequality.” Even as Tesla, GM, and yesterday Ford stock prices have risen in recent months and the public favors installing charging stations, a majority is still not sold on making the changeover to EVs themselves by 2030.  

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