Politics EPA chief highlights water improvement provisions in infrastructure bill
Joe Biden’s coming infrastructure push, explained
Biden’s massive infrastructure plan is also a climate plan.Shortly after passing his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, President Joe Biden is preparing to unveil his “Build Back Better” plan Wednesday during a public address in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The White House discussed an approximately $3 trillion infrastructure package on a call last week with Senate Democrats, but the price tag and final details are still under discussion, a person familiar with the plan told Vox.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan on Monday discussed water infrastructure-related provisions in the White House's $2 trillion infrastructure package while participating in a virtual roundtable.
Regan noted that the impacts of climate change frequently come in the form of "water stress," be it flooding, droughts or sea level rises.
"When our communities are in need or need us, I want to let you know that EPA stands by ... ready to help," he said. He noted that the agency is currently dispatching coordinators to Piney Point, Fla., to coordinate with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on the partial breach of a wastewater reservoir containing nitrogen and phosphorus.
Overnight Energy: EPA pledges new focus on environmental justice | Republicans probe EPA firing of Trump-appointed science advisers | Biden administration asks court to toss kids' climate lawsuit
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Water-related provisions of the bill include the replacement of all lead pipes, with a goal of averting environmental disasters such as the contamination of drinking water in Flint, Mich. A total of $111 billion in funds would go to the water infrastructure projects.
"Today's discussion highlighted that local leaders need a stronger federal partner when it comes to water infrastructure," Regan said in a statement. "The American Jobs Plan would do just that while providing the resources that communities desperately need to deliver essential water service for all."
One of the roundtable participants, Buffalo, N.Y. Mayor Byron Brown (D), said he was "excited to see a real plan that modernizes our infrastructure while uplifting our communities."
The Biden plan, he said "will go a long way toward reestablishing the federal government as a strong partner" on water infrastructure. He noted that the federal share of funding for water infrastructure "has shrunk to amazing lows" since the 1970s.
Brenda Coley, co-executive director of the Louisville Urban League, said she was pleased with provisions in the bill to address water infrastructure in underserved communities but expressed hope that the administration would also examine the circumstances that led to the disadvantages in those communities.
"It's not enough just to write the check," she said. "If we get this right we can really impact our community."
Biden's infrastructure plan is huge; his political margins are minuscule .
“It’s not a plan that tinkers around the edges,” Biden said. The plan broadens the meaning of the term “infrastructure,” as it seeks to accelerate a move away from a coal economy and reverse decades of systemic racism, two central themes of the Biden administration. But it is political horse-trading, not visionary thinking, that will decide the fate of this no-tinkering-around-the-edges proposal. The sweeping proposal will succeed or fail based on the whims of just a few legislators — perhaps few enough to fit into a Capitol elevator in the pre-social distancing days.