Statement: House passes landmark water and transportation bill to restore and enhance U.S. infrastructure
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. House of Representatives passed a legislative package on Thursday that would improve water infrastructure, protect drinking water, and repair and expand our transportation system. The package combined several bills, including the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021 and the AQUA Act, under the umbrella of the INVEST in America Act.
The INVEST in America Act would devote a record $547 billion to public transit, walking and biking infrastructure, and wildlife crossings, while emphasizing a fix-it-first, climate-friendly approach to transportation. Additionally, the package authorizes a landmark $40 billion for clean water infrastructure (with 15 percent of that funding dedicated to natural infrastructure projects) and $45 billion to replace lead pipes nationwide. It also creates a grant program to protect drinking water in schools.
Last November, Environment America and U.S. PIRG released Blueprint for America, an infrastructure plan to make our families and communities safer, healthier, and more resilient by focusing specifically on the areas of energy, transportation, water, solid waste, and natural infrastructure. In a letter spearheaded by Environment America and U.S. PIRG this past March, more than 360 local officials organized from 34 states to call on President Joe Biden and Congress to prioritize funding for infrastructure that will make our communities healthier and protect our environment. Environment America recently released polling that shows voters across the political spectrum strongly support the types of investments just passed by the House.
In response to the House vote, Environment America and U.S. PIRG leaders issued statements.
Environment America President Wendy Wendlandt said:
“It’s 2021, but much of our infrastructure is stuck in the 1950s. The INVEST in America Act is the approach we need to tackle today’s problems, including the greatest challenge of our time: climate change. This bill’s investments in clean, electric and zero-carbon transportation options such as walking and biking are good news for people and the planet. Even animals such as Los Angeles’ famous cougars will get safer ways to cross roads thanks to investments in wildlife crossings!”
U.S. PIRG President Faye Park said:
“No one wants dirty air, polluted water or unsafe roads. Adopting common-sense solutions to these problems is in the interest of all Americans and we applaud members of the House for coming together to do so today with the passage of the INVEST in America Act. This bill shows a healthier, safer future is possible and we look forward to continuing to work with Congress to address all our infrastructure needs.”
Additional experts from Environment America and U.S. PIRG issued the following statements on specific water and transportation provisions:
U.S. PIRG Environment Campaigns Director Matt Casale said:
“The transportation status quo in the U.S. is inefficient and unsustainable. The INVEST in America Act breaks the mold and takes a new fix-it-first and more carbon-conscious approach to support a safer, cleaner and greener transportation network. If signed into law, this bill will drastically improve our options for getting around while making Americans healthier and tackling the climate crisis.”
Environment America Clean Water Program Director John Rumpler said:
“This legislation takes vital steps to end the widespread contamination of our drinking water with lead. The bill not only authorizes $45 billion to pay for replacing lead pipes but also sets a 10-year deadline for water utilities to get the job done. In addition, the bill establishes new funding for schools to filter lead out of the water our kids drink every day. Kudos to Congress for moving boldly to get the lead out.”
Environment America Federal Legislative Advocate Sean Hoffmann said:
“Now more than ever, Americans are reminded of the promise we made to ourselves when we adopted the Clean Water Act in 1972 -- that all our waterways would be safe for swimming. This House package marks a substantial step towards meeting that promise because it invests in stopping sewage overflows, which prevents runoff pollution from flowing into our rivers, lakes, and streams. Polls show that Americans across the nation and political spectrum want to see federal investments in clean water infrastructure, so this House package is long overdue.”
Environment America Conservation America Campaign Advocate Alex Petersen said:
“The Federal Highway Administration found the chance of getting hit by a car or truck is a major threat to the survival of more than 20 threatened and endangered species. The wildlife crossings funded by the INVEST in America Act would help ensure the long-term survival of these incredible species such as bighorn sheep and Canada lynx. We thank Congress for building out 21st century infrastructure with nature in mind.
“Whether to migrate, hunt, mate or seek out new territory, animals need to move freely to thrive. For too long, we built our infrastructure without regard to the movement of wildlife. That's why it’s great to see the INVEST in America Act make an unprecedented commitment toward reconnecting divided habitats with wildlife corridors. This will help ensure the long-term survival of incredible species such as Florida panthers and pronghorn antelope.”