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ICYMI: How the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Advances Environmental Justice

November 16, 2021

"According to the White House, the new law earmarks $240 billion for environmental justice projects — the largest such investment in U.S. history"

Today, the White House released a fact sheet that outlined how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law advances environmental justice – from cleaning up toxic pollution, expanding access to clean drinking water, delivering electric school buses for cleaner air, to remediated legacy pollution. Grist, an outlet focused on telling climate solutions stories, detailed the fact sheet and noted how these historic investments were "a pillar of Biden's campaign platform."

Lyndsay Tarus of the Alliance for Appalachia was cited on how the environmental justice investments can boost local economies: "This will be a major boom to local economies in our region. This funding means thousands of jobs to clean up environmental hazards, and it will lay the foundation for countless jobs in future thriving economies."

A senior administration official also told Grist how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be consistent with the Justice 40 initiative to ensure 40% of the benefits from investments are delivered to communities overburdened by pollution.

Read key excerpts below:

Grist: Here's how the bipartisan infrastructure deal could promote environmental justice
[Adam Mahoney, 11/16/21]

After months of negotiation, President Joe Biden finally signed the long-awaited $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law on Monday afternoon. While the bill has been whittled down considerably compared to Biden's initial $2 trillion proposal, the bipartisan agreement is a much-needed victory for the president — in part because, in the administration's view, it commits the country to its largest-ever environmental justice investment.

Although Biden's initial infrastructure spending vision was touted for the ways it could help mitigate climate change, the bill signed on Monday focuses heavily on conventional transportation infrastructure: Bridges, roads, ports, and airports would all see substantial investment. Nevertheless, according to the White House, roughly $240 billion is expected to be spent advancing environmental justice, a pillar of Biden's campaign platform.

"These long-overdue investments," according to an administration fact sheet shared exclusively with Grist on Monday, "will take much-needed steps to improve public health, reduce pollution, and deliver economic revitalization to communities that have been overburdened, underserved, and left behind."

According to the document, the deal secures $55 billion to expand and revitalize household drinking water systems; $21 billion to clean up sites plagued by historic pollution, reclaim abandoned mining lands, and cap orphaned oil and gas wells; $66 billion to modernize and expand the country's public transit and rail networks; $17 billion for port infrastructure and $25 billion for airports to make needed repairs, reduce emissions, and electrify operations; and over $50 billion to protect communities against droughts, heatwaves, wildfires, and floods.

The deal has been well-received by groups focused on the intersection of labor and environmental justice, as the spending is expected to create thousands of jobs across the country to complete projects such as lead pipe replacement in Illinois, abandoned mine cleanup in Kentucky, regional transit connections in Louisiana, bridge repairs in Massachusetts, and port electrification in Los Angeles.

"This will be a major boom to local economies in our region," said Lyndsay Tarus of the Kentucky-based labor organization The Alliance for Appalachia last week. "This funding means thousands of jobs to clean up environmental hazards, and it will lay the foundation for countless jobs in future thriving economies."

[…]

The deal is also intended to jumpstart the so-called Justice 40 initiative, through which the Biden administration committed to ensuring that 40 percent of government sustainability investments benefit the country's most pollution-burdened communities. A senior administration official involved in the legislation confirmed to Grist that the implementation of the infrastructure bill will fall in line with the Justice 40 guidelines outlined by the administration in February and will be able to be tracked through an implementation scorecard, which is expected to be released by the White House early next year.

[…]

Joseph R. Biden, ICYMI: How the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Advances Environmental Justice Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/353413

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