By Sue Ballenski, Fort Collins Chapter
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF) is being heralded as a once in a generation investment in our infrastructure. So what is actually in the bill? The impression given by the news media is that BIF is a long list of projects with price tags. But in reality, the law allocates dollars at the national level by amending existing laws and creating new programs. States, or other entities, will compete for dollars. Roughly $650 billion is allocated to existing transportation and highway programs. The other $550 billion is new spending. For these reasons, the numbers given by the media for what Colorado may receive are, at best, estimates and vary widely.
States, counties, organizations and businesses will be applying for funds through long-standing bureaucratic scoring mechanisms, like the Federal Highway Fund, or through new grant programs, like the Clean School Bus program. Will Colorado compete well for these funds? The answer is yes. BIF has many requirements for resilience in the face of an unstable climate and for creating infrastructure that is equitable, efficient, and safe. Colorado has already demonstrated alignment with these goals in the Colorado Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap, the Colorado Water Plan, and the 2021 transportation bill. Colorado’s governments, organizations, and businesses can use these as strong evidence of consistency in goals, prior planning, and commitment. Also, the State’s funding in the 2021 transportation bill makes Colorado projects more enticing since Colorado has dollars to contribute.
Climate-wise, BIF scores low in reducing emissions. Still, there is a lot to like in this law. While it doesn’t regulate GHG emissions, it does start to move our national infrastructure into the future by planning, funding, and encouraging change. The carrot of money incentivizes the nation to include climate in thinking about projects and using climate-related language. This is a powerful tool for change.
Here is a highlight list of climate, energy, and conservation related priorities, funding, and grants:
Electric Vehicles (EV)
Conservation and Water
Text of Law:
U.S. Congress - Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Nov. 15, 2021.
Colorado Sun - Congressional infrastructure deal brings $8B in climate, water projects to the West. Nov. 8, 2021.
Colorado Public Radio - Colorado is getting around $1 billion from the federal infrastructure bill for transportation projects. November 8, 2021.
AXIOS - What the $1T infrastructure bill means for Colorado. Nov. 8, 2021.
Conservation and Wildfires:
The Pew Charitable Trusts - Measures in Infrastructure Bill Would Help Fish and Wildlife. Sept. 16, 2021.
Wildfire Today - Congress appropriates $3.3 billion for wildland fire. Nov. 6, 2021.
General Assessments of Law:
VOX - The bipartisan infrastructure law is both historic and not nearly enough. Nov. 15, 2021.
VOX - The Infrastructure Bill aims to clean up pollution in your community. Nov. 15, 2021.