November 08, 2021
The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last Friday now heads to President Biden for his signature. While this bill includes important investments in rail, electric school buses, transit and electric vehicle charging networks, and investments in water infrastructure, the billions designated to highway funding could undermine important climate goals. As transportation is the nation’s top source of greenhouse gas emissions, we need solutions that put fewer people in cars, not more.
Specifically, the IIJA provides $66 billion for passenger and freight rail; $39.2 billion for public transit; much-needed funding for replacing lead water lines; and up to $5 billion for electric school buses.
“The Environmental Law & Policy Center appreciates the significant investment this bill makes in America’s passenger rail network,” said Kevin Brubaker, ELPC Deputy Director. “Both Amtrak and Midwest states have exciting plans on how to use these funds in the Midwest to connect our cities and towns, improve mobility, reduce climate pollution and create good jobs. These programs alone will not end the climate crisis, but they show a recommitment to the fight.”
“However, with the transportation sector now the leading source of U.S. climate pollution, we cannot afford to continue pouring billions into a system that subsidizes driving, increases congestion and worsens climate pollution,” Brubaker said.
Additionally, IIJA represents an important investment in the Great Lakes with $1 billion for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. “This successful program protects the Great Lakes from toxic pollution, threats of invasive species, and eroding habitat,” said Ann Mesnikoff, ELPC Federal Legislative Director. “This increased investment can accelerate much-needed work across the Great Lakes region to protect our national treasure.”
Next up: we urge Congress to pass the Build Back Better Act to invest in climate action across our economy and move the U.S. toward a low-carbon future in a meaningful way.