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Infrastructure bill awaits Biden’s signature, climate package faces uphill battle

The House has passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill that would provide a much needed boost to the country’s broadband, utility and transportation services. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the $1 trillion plan in the coming weeks, but the bill’s companion, a $1.75 trillion social safety net and climate policy package, faces an uphill battle in Washington.

A big thank you to CUB supporters who sent hundreds of messages to Washington urging passage of the infrastructure bill. 

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed the Senate in August and the House on November 5, will upgrade America’s roads, bridges, airports and rail systems while also expanding internet service and addressing the nation’s overworked electrical grid.

What’s in the infrastructure package? Among other things, the Infrastructure investment and Jobs Act contains funding for:

  • Electric vehicles. The bill would provide $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations. Electric and hybrid school buses will also be purchased with an additional $5 billion.
  • Internet access. $65 billion is earmarked for the expansion and improvement of internet access for low-income consumers, rural areas and tribal communities.
  • Electric grid modernization. The legislation sets aside $65 billion to improve the power grid, a system that has become less reliable and resilient in recent years. The funds would also be used to support carbon capture initiatives and cleaner electricity sources.
  • Water. Water and wastewater infrastructure will see $55 billion from the bill. $15 billion of that total is to be used to replace lead pipes, and $10 billion is to clean up contaminated water.
  • Public transit. Some of the $39 billion for public transportation will be distributed to state and local governments to purchase zero- or low-emission buses. The remaining funds will help expand access and improve accessibility for people with disabilities. An additional $66 billion will be allocated to expand and improve Amtrak service nationwide.

According to an analysis by Illinois Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, among other benefits, Illinois should see: 

  • $1.7 billion to improve drinking and wastewater infrastructure.
  • About $4 billion to improve access to public transit.
  • At least $100 million for broadband improvements. About 228,000 Illinoisans currently do not have broadband access. As part of the package, about 2.9 million low-income Illinoisans would get an internet access benefit.
  • $149 million to expand electric vehicle charging networks in Illinois.

Now that the infrastructure bill has passed, legislators are now turning to its companion bill, dubbed the Build Back Better Act. The $1.75 trillion package includes provisions on child care, eldercare, healthcare and prescription drug pricing, and it would funnel $550 billion toward climate and clean energy initiatives.

The bill requires passage in the Senate and the House. Senate supporters have said they hope to pass it by Thanksgiving. 

The legislation does not have bipartisan support, so the climate package’s future is uncertain.  Contact your U.S. Representative and Senators and let them know you support necessary action to mitigate the effects of climate change and protect utility customers. (Send a message to Washington now!

Build Back Better contains funding for:

  • Clean energy tax credits: Over 10 years, $320 billion in tax credits would help businesses and homeowners shift to renewable energy sources for electricity, vehicles and manufacturing.
  • Energy efficiency: The plan contains various provisions supporting clean energy programs, such as funds for home energy efficiency retrofits. The proposal also provides various tax credits for individuals and commercial businesses for making efficiency improvements.
  • Environmental justice: The plan would provide $3 billion to fund community-led projects addressing disproportionate environmental and public health harms related to pollution and climate change. It also includes $1 billion annually for environmental justice higher education programs.
  • Extreme weather defense: $105 billion will be used to improve the country’s ability to withstand extreme weather caused by climate change. A Civilian Climate Corps will also be formed to conserve public lands and prepare communities for weather emergencies.
  • Solar technology: New solar and battery technologies would get $110 billion in funding.
  • Clean energy procurement: The government will use $20 billion to buy clean energy technologies as part of its procurement process.
  • Lead removal: $9 billion would be allocated for lead-removal projects, such as the replacement of water pipes that contain lead.
  • Renewable electricity: The bill extends the production tax credit for electricity produced from renewable sources. (The credits for wind and solar energy are extended through 2026.) The legislation also extends the corresponding investment tax credit, which provides credits for certain clean energy investments. Enhanced incentives are also provided for solar and wind facilities servicing low-income communities.