Dems Insist on Dealing With Climate Change In Infrastructure Package

The President and the Democrats meeting in December 2018    Photo: CNN

The Democratic leaders of Congress are expected to meet with President Trump today to talk about infrastructure legislation and will make clear that no infrastructure spending bill will move through Congress without significant funding for climate change resilience, clean energy, and other “green” projects.   The Democrats wrote the President a letter in advance of the meeting, and among other things stated that “A big and bold infrastructure package must be comprehensive and include clean energy and resiliency priorities,” and went on to say that, “[w]e must also invest in resiliency and risk mitigation of our current infrastructure to deal with climate change.

This is hardly a new position for the Dems, who first proposed the blueprint of an infrastructure bill more than a year ago that included:

  • $115 Billion to Modernize America’s Water and Sewer Systems because “[e]ach year our country experiences about 240,000 water main breaks, costing communities and ratepayers over $2.6 billion in losses as a result of leaked and wasted drinking water. Moreover, billions of gallons of raw sewage are discharged into local waterways each year as a result of aging sewer systems ill-equipped to handle modern volumes.”
  • $115 Billion to Repair and Improve Public Transportation because, according to the Department of Transportation, “there is a $90 billion backlog of repair projects facing the nation’s public transportation systems. Decades of heavy use and underinvestment have resulted in decayed infrastructure and aging vehicles that need replacement. These circumstances contribute to significant delays and service outages for transit riders, and increased safety risk for riders and workers.”
  • $80 Billion to Bring Innovation to America’s Energy Grid & Promote Clean Energy which would include funding for research and development of clean energy technologies, making the energy grid more resilient, improving energy efficiency, and consolidation of current tax incentives to be based on performance rather than specific technologies, to promote innovation, to increase investment, and to lower costs for consumers.
  • $25 Billion to Build More Resilient Communities that would include grants to community projects that minimize risk and enable rapid recovery after a disaster, loans to communities to build more resilient infrastructure, and projects specifically aimed at coastal resilience.

Why This Matters: With each meeting at the White House on infrastructure, the Democrats’ become more resolved to demand that the infrastructure package be “green.”  Senator Schumer’s position was made crystal clear in an Op/ed in the Washington Post last December entitled “No deal on infrastructure without addressing climate change.”  The plan the Democrats put forth last March looks very Green New Deal-ish, in fact. calling for “a historic $1.022 trillion federal investment to modernize our crumbling infrastructure and create more than 15 million jobs that our economy desperately needs.”  Unfortunately, this meeting is likely to end the way the ones have before it — with “No Deal” and no prospect for one before the election in 2020.  

To Go Deeper:  Both the Op/ed by Senator Schumer and the Senate Democratic Jobs and Infrastructure Plan are worthy of your time if you want to know what is already on the table in terms of proposals that are a starting point for a Democratic Administration.

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