On March 31, President Joe Biden proposed a sweeping plan to rebuild our country’s infrastructure in a way that advances climate and environmental justice. Read on to learn about this once-in-a-generation opportunity for progress and what you can do to move it forward.
What does infrastructure have to do with the environment?
- When we talk about infrastructure, we’re talking about transforming our transportation, buildings, energy and water systems, and the other structures we all rely on every day.
- The recent outages that left millions of Texans in freezing temperatures without heat, power, or water happened because of outdated infrastructure.
- As climate change drives more extreme weather, experts say every state in the country is at risk for similar catastrophes unless we make major infrastructure improvements.
Biden’s plan goes beyond repairing what’s broken to creating a clean, equitable economy that benefits all communities. This plan will tackle the climate crisis and advance environmental justice by:
Moving toward zero-emissions transportation
- The problem: Fossil fuel-burning vehicles are the greatest source of climate pollution in the U.S. and a major health hazard for communities that live near freeways and other traffic-heavy zones. Often these are low-income communities and communities of color.
- How this plan will help: Biden is proposing to invest billions of dollars in clean buses, ports, and rail systems. The plan also calls for the construction of half a million electric vehicle charging stations and electrifying postal trucks and the rest of the federal fleet.
Accelerating our clean energy transition
- The problem: Dirty energy sources like coal and gas are fueling the climate crisis, and extreme weather threatens our energy infrastructure.
- How this plan will help: Biden’s proposal would invest in a modern and resilient electricity grid. It would set a standard requiring utilities to move toward 100% clean energy by 2035.
Acknowledging that clean water is a basic right
- The problem: Our country’s water infrastructure is crumbling. There is no better example of how this hurts communities than the lead drinking water crisis: as many as 10 million households around the country have drinking water contaminated by toxic lead in their pipes. This is a public health disaster, because there is no safe level of lead in children’s blood.
- How this plan will help: The proposal provides sorely needed funding for water infrastructure, including for the removal of every lead service line in the country.
Holding polluters accountable
- The problem: The fossil fuel industry is propped up by billions of dollars in subsidies and tax credits, while taxpayers are too often left to clean up their mess.
- How this plan will help: It does away with these handouts to fossil fuel interests, and it requires polluters to help fund the cleanup of toxic sites. It also puts people to work cleaning up and restoring abandoned wells and mines.
Laying the foundation for a more just future
- The problem: Communities of color, Indigenous communities, and low-income communities face disproportionate burdens from interlocking crises: climate catastrophe, COVID-19, an economic recession, and deep racial injustice. Government has historically under-invested in these communities.
- How this plan will help: It targets 40% of the benefits from investments in climate and infrastructure to disadvantaged communities, and addresses the cumulative impacts of pollution in frontline communities.
Restoring natural infrastructure
- The problem: Degraded ecosystems rob communities of clean water, clean air, and the plants and animals that make the planet habitable for humans. A million species are at risk of extinction in our lifetime.
- How this plan will help: It protects and restores our lands and oceans. These conservation investments — and the good jobs they create — must be equitably distributed.
How can this plan become a reality?
Now that the Biden administration has proposed its plan, Congress will get to work. We look forward to working with the administration and Congress to build on this proposal and pass it into law. Join us in thanking President Biden for upholding his promise to build back better at this critical moment for people and the planet.