What A Historic $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Means For Climate Change

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The U.S. House of Representatives passed a historic and bipartisan infrastructure bill this week. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill, which already cleared the Senate, into law. It represents a game-changing investment in the infrastructure in this country and is likely to create millions of jobs in the next ten years according to the Biden Administration. Politically, this will be seen as a victory for President Biden, but it is also a rare glimpse at what bipartisanship can look like. As a climate scientist, I think it is a victory for Earth and all of us who depend on it for survival.

TOPSHOT – US President Joe Biden delivers a speech on stage during a meeting at the COP26 UN Climate … [+] Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 1, 2021. – COP26, running from October 31 to November 12 in Glasgow will be the biggest climate conference since the 2015 Paris summit and is seen as crucial in setting worldwide emission targets to slow global warming, as well as firming up other key commitments (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

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For a comprehensive look at what is in the $1.2 trillion bill, I recommend this link. It highlights significant components that will address roads, bridges, airports, and waterways. There are also major investments related to improving power, water, and broadband systems. Herein, I provide a quick overview of what the bill means for climate change.

In one way, I already have. You may have notice how parts of the U.S. have recently suffered from power and water supply issues after extreme weather events such as Hurricane Ida or the Texas Cold Event. Any infrastructure bill that hardens our infrastructure for the new realities of climate change is good for everyone. However, infrastructure adaptation and resilience are not the only things in this bill relevant to climate change. There is quite a bit on the mitigation side of the house too.

From COP26 forward, the world understands that reduction of carbon emissions is the “smoking tailpipe” solution for slowing climate change. The bill contains $39 billion dollars to expand public transportation systems. It is a pretty simple proposition. If we can get people out of cars idling in traffic (I live in the Atlanta area so know this well) and onto public transportation, that is helpful in the emissions reduction calculus.

NEW ORLEANS – SEPTEMBER 17: Utility workers repair a power line September 17, 2005 in the Lower … [+] Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana. Rescue efforts and clean up continue in the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina twenty days after the deadly storm hit. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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The bill will also help state and local governments transition to zero or low-emission buses and contains the largest investment in passenger rail service in 50 years. As a new electric vehicle owner, I was excited to see billions of dollars in funding to expand electric vehicle charging stations around the country. This bill contains $5 billion for school systems to purchase electric or hybrid school buses. Diesel-fuel school buses have long been a target of environmental stewards.

I mentioned electric grid resiliency earlier, but another aspect of the modernization is to support carbon capture technology. Part of the $65 billion funding allocated for grid modernization would also stimulate and accelerate the development of more climate-friendly electricity sources such as hydrogen.

The green base, the trapping agent and the pink, sulphuric acid being separated by New Sky Energy is … [+] the world’s first carbon negative energy and manufacturing company. A 2009 Cleantech Open winner, New Sky uses a proprietary capture process to scrub CO2 from the air or flue gas and converts it into safe, stable solids. These solids can in turn be incorporated into building materials, durable goods, fertilizers and other manufactured products. Joe Amon, The Denver Post (Photo By Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

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