Dear President Biden and Members of Congress:
We, the undersigned local elected officials, urge you to boldly invest in the kinds of infrastructure that will help put our nation’s communities on a visionary and sustainable path. For far too long, our nation has allowed infrastructure to deteriorate – from crumbling roadways to broken sewage systems. Some infrastructure – including unnecessary highway expansions, lead service lines, combined sewers, giant landfills, power plants and pipelines – created new problems. As a result, our communities face far more pollution than we should tolerate while their core needs are often unmet.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought several of these problems into stark relief. Safe drinking water is essential to handwashing and staying hydrated while at home. Air pollution has worsened COVID outcomes. Our natural yearning for open space is intensified when indoor gatherings are limited. And yet, COVID-19 has also battered the finances of state and local governments, making it even harder for us to repair and invest in infrastructure on our own.
To address these challenges, we need a transformative national infrastructure plan that addresses communities’ 21st century priorities. We must invest in infrastructure that makes us healthier and safer, and prioritizes “fix it first” over flashy new structures. By focusing on projects that are truly shovel-worthy (not just shovel-ready), we can meet our communities’ key needs efficiently and use taxpayer dollars wisely.
We ask that the following be included in your infrastructure plans to help the country get back on its feet in the wake of a challenging year and build a better future:
- Clean Water: Invest an additional $11.5 billion per year in water infrastructure that prevents runoff pollution and sewage overflows; and keeps our drinking water safe from lead, PFAS, and other contaminants.
- Clean Transportation: Expand and electrify public transportation by increasing funding for Capital Investment Grants, and support community deployment of electric buses with new funding for the Low or No Emissions Vehicle program.
- Clean Energy: Invest in renewable energy infrastructure by expanding and modernizing tax credits for wind, solar, and energy storage projects, and by providing grants to help communities reduce energy use and deploy clean energy projects.
- Natural Infrastructure: Invest in protecting and restoring America’s wetlands, forests, rivers, and coastlines with the goal of protecting 30 percent of our lands and oceans by 2030. ● Reducing waste: Support efforts to reduce waste generation, and promote composting and recycling (excepting any chemical waste conversion) and move towards “zero waste.”
- Healthy schools: Provide funding to transition to zero-emission electric school buses and to ensure safe drinking water by replacing fountains and other lead-bearing parts and installing filters.
- Accessible broadband: Expand broadband internet access to support distance learning and remote working during COVID-19 and beyond.
While our nation remains divided on many issues, public support for infrastructure investment is overwhelming and transpartisan. As just one example, 84 percent of Americans support increased federal spending on infrastructure to ensure clean water.
Thus, creating and supporting a bold vision to address our infrastructure provides a rare opportunity to bring our nation together to address real and significant challenges facing our communities and our nation as a whole. Please use this opportunity to make bold investments in projects and approaches that deliver lasting benefits for our communities and for future generations.