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Buttigieg wants to make climate change top priority for Transportation Department, if confirmed

Buttigieg said country has "generational opportunity" to create new jobs, fight economic inequality and stem climate change. 

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Pete Buttigieg drops out
Pete Buttigieg drops out
(Scott Olson / Getty Images)
Updated: January 22, 2021 - 9:55am

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden’s pick to lead the Transportation Department, vowed Thursday during his Senate confirmation hearing to make climate change a top priority, if elected to the post.

Buttigieg, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and former South Bend, Indiana, mayor, indicated at the hearing that he would reverse a Trump administration rollback in federal automotive fuel economy standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, work to stiffen oversight of aviation safety as the troubled Boeing 737 Max makes its return to the skies and encourage use of electric vehicles, such as by adding a half-million charging stations nationwide, according to the Associated Press.

Buttigieg said the country has a "generational opportunity" to create new jobs, fight economic inequality and stem climate change. 

He also hinted at a broad climate-centric role for the department that will require significant investments, on top of Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan.

"We need to build our economy back, better than ever, and the Department of Transportation can play a central role in this," he told the Senate Commerce Committee, the wire service also reports.

The committee could vote on Buttigieg’s nomination as soon as next week.

Republican Sen. Roger Wicker, who led the hearing, said he was "quite certain" Buttigieg will be confirmed.