Pete Buttigieg Tells Americans How They Can Channel Their ‘Pain’ At The Pump
Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Indiana Mayor Peter Buttigieg speaks during the 2019 J Street National Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC on October 28, 2019.
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told Congress Tuesday that Americans could reduce the burden of high gas prices by buying electric vehicles.

The comments before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee occurred as members of the Biden administration took a victory lap over a marginal decline in gas prices. Not mentioning the fact that prices at the pump are now 89% higher than at the beginning of his term, Biden argued on Tuesday that his “actions are working” and “prices are coming down.”

Meanwhile, Buttigieg told lawmakers high fuel prices will lead more Americans to rely on alternatives.

“The more pain we are all experiencing from the high price of gas, the more benefit there is for those who can access electric vehicle,” Buttigieg said, according to Fox Business.

“So you’re saying the more pain we have, the more benefit we’re gonna get?” Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) responded. “I think that’s what I heard you say.”

“Of course — no, no, that’s what you heard me say,” Buttigieg replied. “I know you want me to say it’s so bad but honestly, sir, what we’re saying is we could have no pain at all by making EVs cheaper for everyone.”

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) told Buttigieg that charging electric vehicles would require several times more energy than running the typical household’s air conditioning — a reality that complicates the Biden administration’s goal of 50% electric vehicle adoption by 2030. Nevertheless, Buttigieg and his colleagues have argued repeatedly that higher use of clean energy is a silver lining to rising energy prices.

“The people who stand to benefit most from owning an EV are often rural residents who have the most distances to drive, who burn the most gas, and underserved urban residents in areas where there are higher gas prices and lower income,” Buttigieg said last year. “They would gain the most by having that vehicle. These are the very residents who have not always been connected to electric vehicles that are viewed as kind of a luxury item.”

During the week of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, the national average price of gasoline was $2.38 per gallon, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and increased to $3.53 per gallon by the week when Russia invaded Ukraine. Prices surpassed $5.00 per gallon in early June before subsiding to $4.49 per gallon as of this week.

Yet the White House — which nixed expansions to the Keystone XL Pipeline last year and has been accused of dragging its feet on issuing oil and gas permits — has asserted that “Putin’s Price Hike” is responsible for rising inflation in recent months.

“Putin’s Price Hike hit hard… high gas prices at the pump, energy, and food prices accounted for around half of the monthly price increases, and gas pump prices are up by $2 a gallon in many places since Russian troops began to threaten Ukraine,” Biden said in a statement last month. “Even as we continue our work to defend freedom in Ukraine, we must do more — and quickly — to get prices down here in the United States.”

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