Senate Passes Infrastructure Bill With Significant Investments in Energy, Climate, and Resiliency
The bipartisan infrastructure legislation, “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” passed out of the Senate today and is now headed for the House where it is expected to pass. The legislation includes significant clean energy and climate change provisions, though it is missing some key pieces in President Biden’s “American Jobs Plan Proposal.” One observer called it a “down payment” on the investments necessary to meet the climate challenge. While it is by no means the final step, the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” is an important first step in providing national investments in climate solutions at the scale we need.
We are especially pleased that Utah Senator Mitt Romney played a critical role in negotiating the legislation, ensuring that our state had a seat at the table during these important discussions about investing in our future.
Climate, Energy, and Resiliency Measures in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
- Electricity grid upgrades: The legislation includes significant investments in upgrading our electricity grid with a total of $28 billion for programs to expand electricity transmission and make our electricity grid more resilient and reliable in the face of extreme weather and wildfires. The bill also gives the Secretary of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) more authority to expedite siting and permitting of nationally significant electricity transmission projects.
- Investments in Zero and Low-Emissions Energy and Energy Storage Resources: The bill includes a number of new and expanded grant programs for low and zero-emission energy resources and energy storage programs, also totaling $28 billion. The focus, however, is more on nuclear energy, hydrogen, hydropower, and battery storage than on solar and wind. The bill would also seek to provide money for “hubs” for the development and demonstration of clean hydrogen, carbon capture and sequestration projects, and direct air capture of carbon dioxide emissions. However, it does fully fund the solar, wind, energy storage, and geothermal programs authorized at the end of 2020, a critical step.
- Supply Chains and Recycling of Critical Materials for Batteries and Energy Storage Systems: The energy provisions of the Senate infrastructure package have a major focus on the production and recycling of materials for batteries and other clean energy technologies, such as lithium-ion, with about $8 billion in funding. Of note, the bill authorizes about $3 billion for battery material processing and manufacturing and another $3 billion for battery and recycling grants. It also included provisions for finding 2nd life applications for electric vehicle batteries for use on the electricity grid.
- Energy Efficiency Grant Programs: Energy efficiency is a big part of the bipartisan bill. The bill creates:
- $500 million grant program to help public schools with energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements,
- $250 million revolving loan fund capitalization program for states that establish a loan fund,
- $225 million over five years to help with the implementation of building energy conservation codes.
- $3.5 billion for the low-income Weatherization Assistance program,
- $550 million for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program for the next fiscal year.
- Electrified Transportation Funding: The Senate bipartisan package falls short of the investments in electric vehicles proposed by President Biden in the American jobs plan, though it does include:
- $7.5 billion for grants for electric vehicle charging infrastructure,
- $5 billion for the purchasing of zero-emissions school buses, and some additional funds for electric ferries.
- $400 million in funds to reduce emissions from trucking at ports.
- Public Transportation and Passenger Rail: The package includes over $30 billion of new investments in public transit systems. Of that amount, about $8 billion is specifically for new capital investments, and $16 billion allocated to expand the Amtrak passenger rail system.
- Resiliency Programs: There is a significant amount of new funds to help states and communities prepare for and respond to extreme weather, drought, flooding, and wildfire.
- Support for Communities in Transition: The legislation does include some specific provisions to support coal communities and communities that may experience challenges during the clean energy transition. The Senate bill would provide support for locating advanced energy and recycling programs, direct air capture projects, and clean energy demonstration projects in communities with retiring coal mines or coal-fired power plants. There is also $11 billion for abandoned mine reclamation projects and $4.7 billion for an “Energy Community Revitalization Program” to fund plugging and remediation of orphaned oil and gas wells.
- Recycling: We note that there is also some notable new funding for recycling programs, including $75 million for grants to support outreach and education for recycling programs and about $150 million for battery recycling programs.
- There is also significant new funding to support the expansion of broadband to both urban and rural communities.
We encourage you to take a look at the full list of statements endorsing the legislation on Senator Romney’s website at https://www.romney.senate.gov/great-news-utah-what-utahns-are-saying-about-bipartisan-infrastructure-bill