Shenandoah National Park

What’s in the infrastructure bill for the environment?

Congress just passed one of the largest infrastructure investments in U.S. history on November 5, 2021. 

Photo: Shenandoah National Park. Credit: Staff.

Congress just passed one of the largest infrastructure investments in U.S. history on November 5, 2021. But what does this bill do for the environment? A lot, it turns out! The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will improve our transportation and power infrastructure and ensure cleaner air and water across the United States over the coming decades. Here are some of the highlights.

Fawn
Fawn. Credit: Staff.

Helping Wildlife

With the construction of roads, plus fences, cities, strip malls and more, we have carved up wildlife habitats into smaller and smaller pieces, further threatening biodiversity that is steadily in decline around the globe. In particular, roads present a dangerous challenge for obvious reasons -- cars and trucks barrel toward wildlife and can crush and kill them. The federal infrastructure bill and the $350 million it allocates to wildlife crossings will help save cougars, elk and other animals.

Read more about how wildlife crossings work.

There’s funding to help monarch butterflies, bees and other pollinators too! Learn more.

Swimming in the Chesapeake Bay. Credit: Staff.

Clean Water

Lead is highly toxic, especially to kids, and the problem is pervasive. The bipartisan infrastructure bill provides enough funding to replace about one third of lead service lines nationwide—$15 billion—and $200 million to address lead in our schools’ drinking water. And, there’s additional money to clean up toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” that threaten our drinking water.

Learn more about funding to remove lead pipes.

The bill also makes a major investment to clean up lakes, rivers and beaches. More than half of the beaches we reviewed were unsafe for swimming on at least one day in 2020. Fixing leaky pipes and preventing runoff can help solve the problem. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will allocate $11.7 billion over five years—more than any previous five-year period—to make our waterways safer for swimming. 

Read more: How the infrastructure bill makes our waterways safer for swimming.

And for lovers of the Great Lakes, there is $1 billion for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative which aims to make its fish safe to eat, its waters safe for swimming and free from toxic algal blooms and invasive species.

Electric vehicles charging. Credit: Scharfsinn via Shutterstock.

Climate Change and Electric Vehicles

Transportation is the biggest contributor to American greenhouse gas emissions. The infrastructure bill makes historic investments in electric vehicle charging, electric buses, and transit, walking and biking. 

Read more about electric vehicle charging and electric bus investments in the bill.

 

Energy Efficiency

We are wasting energy and the culprits are our buildings. We could avoid much of this energy waste if we only made our buildings more energy efficient. The bipartisan bill provides $225 million to implement energy efficient building codes nationwide.

Toxic Waste and Pollution

One in six Americans lives within three miles of a toxic waste site on the national “Superfund” list. After 26 years of citizens footing the bill for polluters’ messes, Congress has reinstated a “polluter pays” tax on the production of hazardous chemicals, which will hold the polluting industry responsible for the cost of cleaning up the nation’s most dangerous toxic waste sites. 

Additionally, the infrastructure bill includes funding to clean up abandoned mines and the estimated 450,000 brownfields in the US. It will mean reducing the risk of cancer and other serious illnesses for millions of Americans and giving them safer communities to live in.

Learn what this means for toxic sites near you and how we held one of the most powerful industries accountable.