Delegates, energy advocates push for electric infrastructure

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State elected officials from Kanawha County and clean vehicle advocates rallied for federal investment in clean transportation on Thursday.

Delegates Kayla Young (D – Kanawha, 35), Jim Barach (D – Kanawha, 36) and Mike Pushkin (D – Kanawha, 37) along with Lucia Valentine of Moms Clean Air Force West Virginia chapter spoke in front of the Criel Mound in South Charleston.

They stood looking towards one of the few electric charging stations in the city, which Valentine said there needs to be more of in the latest infrastructure bill.

“Investing in electric infrastructure is a great way so spur economic growth, to create jobs, good-paying jobs, to protect public health, and to get things rollings in tackling the climate crisis,” Valentine told the media following the event.

Kanawha County Delegate Kayla Young (D) speaking during the event on Thursday.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal after weeks of negotiations between colleagues as well as discussions with the White House.

Pushkin, Young and Barach all called the bill a ‘good first step’ and applauded both US Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito. But all three said there needs to be more on electric energy.

For now, Valentine said this is the time for the Mountain State to capitalize on the money coming in.

“This infrastructure funding would be a great first step for us to build up our clean vehicle infrastucture here and create those jobs that West Virginians are looking for and need to thrive in our state and stay in our state,” she said.

The event was sponsored by Moms Clean Air Force West Virginia and BlueGreen Alliance as part of a $10 million grassroots campaign during the August 2021 congressional recess in 12 states to demand investments in clean energy, electric vehicle infrastructure, and climate solutions organized by the Climate Action Campaign.

Valentine said West Virginia still has a ways to go in clean energy and a transition to electric transportation will benefit communities across the state by creating good-paying jobs and reducing dangerous pollution.

“You have to not be paying attention for you to think this is not happening,” she said of climate change. “I think digging into these issues, it’s clear as day that climate change is here, it’s here now and affecting us now. It’s about what can we do to save ourselves going forward.”