Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG
Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG
Agreement on transportation, water, energy and broadband would be good for the country
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote early next week on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a major bipartisan package for transportation, clean water, power infrastructure and broadband. Concurrently, the House is preparing a budget reconciliation bill (the Build Back Better Act) encompassing additional priorities needed to meet climate and other environmental goals, including clean energy tax incentives, the reinstatement of the “polluter pays” Superfund tax, a fee on methane, as well as increased funding to tackle air and water pollution.
The vote follows years of failed “Infrastructure Weeks” and months of debate over President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan, which proposed funding for road maintenance, transit and electric vehicle charging infrastructure; replacing lead pipes nationwide; modernizing the electrical grid; and expanding broadband. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed the U.S. Senate earlier this summer 69-30, including 19 Republican senators. It includes historic levels of funding and other provisions to address health and environmental problems related to infrastructure:
$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
U.S. PIRG Environment Campaigns Director Matt Casale released the following statement:
“Infrastructure is at the heart of America’s greatest challenges. The infrastructure investments made by past generations have contributed to improved health and welfare, but they have also cast a long shadow, leaving America to deal with the burden of lead water pipes that jeopardize our children’s health and transportation and energy infrastructure that no longer serve today’s needs.
“Even in today’s divided political culture, Americans of all stripes agree: Our infrastructure needs work. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is an opportunity to start rebuilding our nation’s physical foundation for the 21st century. It includes the largest-ever federal investment in public transportation. It invests in electric school buses. It reinstates one of three ‘polluter pays’ tax for hazardous waste Superfund site cleanups. This historic investment will leave our country healthier, stronger and more resilient. We urge the House to pass the bill now.
“Congress then needs to move to swiftly pass the rest of what’s needed to tackle pollution and climate change, including enough funding to ensure safe drinking water for all Americans; fees on methane and the outstanding Superfund ‘polluter pays’ fees; and incentivizing clean, renewable energy instead of fossil fuels.”
Environment America’s Washington Legislative Office Executive Director Lisa Frank released the following statement:
“Outdated infrastructure endangers our health and our environment. Pipes leach lead into our kids’ drinking water and leak sewage into our waterways. Our sprawling highway network facilitates car travel at the cost of a stable climate and thousands of lives lost each year from crashes and air pollution. Threatened animals are cut off from their species by development. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act makes important progress toward solving these problems. It’s no wonder it received support from a large majority of the Senate, and it should get similarly strong bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives without further delay.
“We also applaud Congress’s hard work to date on the Build Back Better Act, which would make additional critical investments to solve climate change, including widely supported tax incentives for clean energy. That legislation is a necessary complement to the infrastructure bill and we urge its passage as well soon.”