Trenton -- President Joe Biden will unveil his “Build Back Better” infrastructure package in Pittsburgh, the same Pennsylvania city where he first announced his presidential campaign in 2019. Based on the fact sheet released by the White House on Wednesday morning, his plan focuses infrastructure investments on key measures to improve public health and the environment, including expanding electric transportation, removing lead from drinking water and strengthening our electric grid.
These are among the priorities proposed by our sister organization, Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center in a report last November. That report laid out a transformative vision for stronger, more sustainable infrastructure that would support public health, the environment and build a future powered by clean energy. Across the political spectrum, the public widely supports investments in our nation’s infrastructure: More than 360 local officials delivered a letter earlier this month to the Biden administration and Congress calling for infrastructure investment.
Doug O’Malley, Director of Environment New Jersey, released the following statement:
“Outdated infrastructure that needs repair, revamping or replacement adversely affects every single American. So much of the United States was built in the 19th and 20th centuries with a lack of knowledge of the environmental and health impacts -- and with fossil fuels in mind. It is long past time to repair our pothole-stricken roads, revamp our energy production with renewable sources and replace our lead-laden pipes. President Biden’s plan truly will help us build a more sustainable clean, renewable future for America and New Jersey that makes the necessary investment to clean our environment and end our reliance on dirty, polluting fossil fuels.
President Biden has proposed the single greatest step we’ve seen this century to reverse lead contamination of our drinking water. Because this problem is especially pervasive in schools, we hope at least $1 billion of the plan’s drinking water funding will be used to install filters and replace lead-bearing fountains, faucets and fixtures where our children go to learn and play each day. Moreover, Build Back Better restores our government’s commitment to invest in clean water, with funding that can help end sewage overflows and make our waterways safe for swimming.
We can’t solve the climate crisis without changing what we drive. By 2035, all new cars on the road must be electric. President Biden’s plan would accelerate our transition to clean electric vehicles by building a national network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030.
Tax credits have been America’s go-to tool for advancing clean energy over the last decade. Extending them at full value through the end of the decade will put more solar on rooftops, get more clean power from the wind into communities, and make our buildings more energy efficient. This package will help lay the foundation for a future powered entirely by clean and renewable energy.
Climate change is the largest problem facing our nation today and fossil fuel infrastructure is at the heart of the challenge. President Biden proposed a plan that recognizes the need to zero out carbon emissions and implement common sense solutions that will end our reliance on fossil fuel infrastructure and help preserve a livable planet for generations to come. By eliminating tax preferences for the fossil fuel industry, we can stop using our tax dollars to fuel the climate crisis and free up around $20 billion a year that can be spent on more pressing climate investment priorities.
America’s car-centric transportation infrastructure is wreaking havoc on our health and the health of our planet. President Biden set forth a vision for a healthier and cleaner transportation future that will work better for all Americans. He proposes what would be the largest-ever investment in electric school buses for our kids and electric transit buses for our cities and towns. His plan would also bring our transportation network into the 21st century by doubling funding for our aging public transit systems and fixing our crumbling roads and bridges. If we focus on the repair, maintenance and safety of our roads instead of building new capacity, this could truly be a game-changer.
The oil and chemical industries have been taking a tax vacation while Americans have been paying for toxic waste with their health and their wallets. Since the Polluter Pays Tax expired, the cleanup of Superfund toxic waste sites has slowed to a dribble due to lack of funding. President Biden’s plan to reinstate the Polluter Pays Tax would mean reducing the risk of cancer, heart and respiratory problems, and other serious illnesses for millions of Americans and New Jerseyans who can’t afford to wait any longer for these sites to be cleaned up.”