Democrats Call $550 Billion Infrastructure Bill As Upfront Payment


WASHINGTON — The $550 billion infrastructure deal reached Wednesday by a bipartisan group of senators is a key upfront in President Biden’s ambitious environmental agenda, including the first federal spending on electric vehicle charging stations and the largest investment in public transportation and clean water systems. will make. in the history of the nation.

It also includes the initial federal expenditure on “climate resilience” to adapt and rebuild roads, ports and bridges to withstand the damage from rising sea levels, stronger storms and more devastating heat waves to come as the planet continues to warm. .

But money for provisions to reduce pollution fueling climate change, a fraction Of the $2 trillion that Mr. Biden once promised to spend. The White House sees the bipartisan measure as the first step toward passing a separate $3.5 trillion bill, which Democrats hope to pass this decline by party, over Republicans’ objection.

Democrats plan to introduce key climate programs into this second bill, including a provision to pay electricity utilities to generate energy from non-polluting sources, and tax incentives for consumers to purchase electric vehicles.

“As a climate policy, it’s an appetizer,” said Hawaii Democratic Senator Brian Schatz of the package announced Wednesday. “Not a main course.”

Forcing Biden to deliver on his ambitious climate promises, Mr Schatz called the climate provisions in the measure “good” and noted that both Republicans and Democrats now agree on the need to protect parts of the country from destruction. climate-induced drought, storm and flood. But he warned: “We’re not solving climate change if all we do is nibble a little on the edges and do some resilience programs. We’re just responding to the fact that we haven’t solved climate change.”

Coming out of a blue-bound meeting Wednesday afternoon that included a 30-page summary of the bill, several Republicans said they still had questions. They said they wanted to see the legislative language—which lawmakers said could come to about 700 pages—before voting on the package.

“A good-sized pile of papers,” said Senator John Boozman, an Arkansas Republican.

The bipartisan bill would spend $7.5 billion on an initial federal effort to build a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations. That doesn’t come close to the $174 billion that Mr. Biden is willing to spend on building 500,000 EV charging stations.

But it aims to cut a significant part of its climate agenda into reducing pollution from vehicle exhaust pipes, the country’s largest source of greenhouse gases.

The bill would spend $5 billion to provide electric, low-emission school buses to communities to replace traditional diesel-powered yellow school buses.

It will spend $39 billion to modernize the nation’s public transport systems, including replacing heavily polluting diesel buses with zero or low polluting electric buses.

While neither lawmakers nor the White House have clarified how this money will be divided or spent, it would set aside $50 billion to make communities more resilient to both cyberattacks and the effects of climate change. Last year, the United States suffered 22 extreme weather and climate-related disasters, with losses exceeding $1 billion each.

The legislation includes $73 billion towards upgrading and modernizing the country’s electricity grid to build thousands of miles of new transmission lines to carry more energy produced by wind, solar and other zero-emission sources. It would create a new office within the Department of Energy to assist with the licensing and financing of transmission lines.

It will allocate $55 billion to replace all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines to ensure all Americans have access to safe drinking water.

The bill also pumps $21 billion into funding to clean up toxic pollution, particularly in communities of color, and to shut down abandoned mines and orphan gas wells that emit methane and other pollution.

There’s Mr. Biden US pledges to reduce emissions When world leaders meet for a crucial climate change summit in Glasgow in November, they will face pressure to show progress towards that goal. Analysts said the bipartisan package alone did not come close to moving the country to Mr. Biden’s goal, but described it as an important step.

“I don’t think President Biden is going to Glasgow just with that,” said Joshua Freed, senior vice president for climate and energy at the research and advocacy group Third Way. Mr. Freed said he was confident the Democrats’ second package of climate change provisions would be complete, or nearly complete, by the summit.

“Moving the United States is like moving a giant cruise ship,” he said, “and this is an absolutely critical set of steps to build momentum.”


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