Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG
Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG
Next up: Congress must pass climate legislation
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives voted 228-206 to build a bridge to a brighter future by passing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Friday. This major bipartisan package will improve our transportation and power infrastructure and ensure clean water and broadband access across the United States over the coming decades. Up next: a budget reconciliation bill that would help the U.S. stall climate change and clean up our environment. The Build Back Better Act includes clean energy tax incentives and other investments to tackle pollution.
The vote follows years of failed “Infrastructure Weeks” and months of debate over President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which included many of the president’s proposals, passed the U.S. Senate earlier this summer by a 69-30 vote, including “ayes” from 19 Republican senators. Key environmental provisions include:
$55 billion for water infrastructure, including $15 billion to remove lead pipes and $200 million to address lead in school drinking water
Record investments in transit, walking and biking infrastructure
$7.5 billion to begin building a nationwide electric vehicle charging network
Funding for thousands of clean, electric school buses and low and zero emission transit buses
$73 billion to strengthen the electrical grid and improve energy efficiency
Begins the process of reinstating the Superfund tax “polluter pays” principle while also including additional funding to clean up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned gas wells
$65 billion for broadband
$350 million to build wildlife corridors, which ensure animals can get under, around or over roads to migrate, mate and maintain biodiversity
In response to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passing, U.S. PIRG’s Chairman Doug Phelps issued the following statement:
“To solve social problems, we need leaders — who don’t always agree — to set aside their differences and reach compromises on solutions.
“This bill reflects that bipartisan spirit and takes major steps toward a cleaner and healthier America. It includes the largest-ever federal investment in public transportation. It invests in electric school buses. It reinstates one of the ‘polluter pays’ taxes for hazardous waste Superfund site cleanups.
“On its own, this investment is historic and will leave our country healthier, stronger and more resilient. Together with the Build Back Better Act, which includes robust provisions to address climate change, this could be a great package of positive environmental programs, one that President Biden and Congress can be proud of.”
Environment America’s President Wendy Wendlandt issued the following statement:
“The infrastructure we build impacts our health and the environment for decades into the future. All Americans want clean air to breathe, clean, lead-free water to drink, and more options to get around. But for decades, our infrastructure investments haven’t reflected those values.
“This legislation makes needed progress in these areas. It begins to rectify the harms of past infrastructure investments by removing lead pipes and targeting investments to protect our kids from lead in school drinking water; cleaning up Superfund sites; and reconnecting wildlife habitats. Just as important, it invests in the clean transportation technologies we need to have a livable future, such as clean electric school buses and electric vehicle charging.
“After a summer of record-breaking drought, heat waves, fires and floods, the urgency of solving climate change has never been more apparent. The proposed Build Back Better Act, a necessary counterpart to the infrastructure bill, would grow solar and wind power, help people buy electric vehicles, and reduce air pollution. We urge Congress to move forward with the Build Back Better Act at the speed the climate crisis demands.”
Read more from U.S. PIRG’s experts:
Clean water infrastructure: All of America’s waters should be safe for swimming. Fixing our infrastructure is the first step.
Electric school buses: The road to cleaner air
Electric vehicle charging: Charged up for an electric vehicle future