Internal Docs Reveal Biden Construction Plans Struggles

In 2021, the Biden administration made a bold pledge to build 500,000 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations by 2030, a key component of their climate and infrastructure agenda. However, as of now, only seven stations have been completed. This slow progress has sparked frustration and concern, with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg acknowledging the complexity and extended timeline involved in establishing “a new category of federal investment.”

In a CBS Face the Nation interview, Buttigieg explained, “It’s more than just plunking a small device into the ground.” Yet, internal memos from the Department of Transportation (DOT) and interviews with project overseers suggest that the delay is significantly influenced by the administration’s emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

A senior DOT staffer, speaking anonymously, revealed that these DEI requirements are creating substantial hurdles. “These requirements are screwing everything up,” they said. “It’s all a mess.” This sentiment is echoed by critics who argue that these mandates, while well-intentioned, are hampering efficiency and effectiveness in project implementation.

President Biden’s impatience with the slow pace of infrastructure projects is well-documented. A White House spokesperson told CNN that Biden “constantly pushes his team to ensure we are moving as quickly as possible.” However, the President’s own policies might be contributing to these delays.

One significant factor is an executive order signed by Biden shortly after taking office. This order mandates that 40 percent of beneficiaries of federal climate and environmental programs should come from “underserved communities.” It also established the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council to ensure that the perspectives and needs of these communities are prioritized in federal policies.

To qualify for federal grants under these initiatives, applicants must demonstrate extensive public involvement, particularly from disadvantaged communities. This involves “intentional outreach,” which can include activities like block parties, contests, and multilingual engagement. These requirements, while aiming to ensure inclusivity, are seen by some as cumbersome and time-consuming.

Jim Meigs, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, criticized these requirements for complicating and delaying construction. “These ‘public involvement’ requirements are impossible to quantify and even open builders up to lawsuits,” Meigs said. The need for detailed reports on how equity goals will be pursued adds layers of bureaucracy, increasing costs and extending timelines.

Internal DOT memos indicate that “highly qualified” applications must promote local inclusive economic development and support minority-owned businesses. This includes funding services to train and employ underrepresented groups in infrastructure jobs. These DEI mandates are visible across more than 500 federal initiatives, as highlighted by the White House’s chief environmental justice officer, Jalonne White-Newsome.

Despite these challenges, the Department of Transportation maintains that progress is being made. A spokesperson noted that the number of publicly available charging ports has increased by over 90 percent since Biden took office, with more than 184,000 operational today and 1,000 more coming online each week. Projects are underway to add 14,000 federally funded EV charging ports under the NEVI and CFI programs.

However, the practical use of these stations remains a concern. The first station funded by the bipartisan infrastructure bill opened in a small Ohio town last December but saw no usage in its initial hours. Ohio has one of the lowest EV adoption rates in the country, highlighting a potential disconnect between infrastructure development and local demand.

Critics like Meigs argue that the primary goal of these programs should be to reduce emissions and facilitate EV adoption, rather than fulfilling political and social equity agendas. “At a certain point you have to ask, is the point of these programs to reduce emissions or is the point to spread taxpayer money around and support groups that vote for the Democratic Party?” he questioned.


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