The governing US Democrats want to invest 500 billion dollars in infrastructure and public transportation electrification over the next ten years. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Elizabeth Warren drafted the ‘BUILD Green and Jobs Act’.
The extended version called the ‘Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development and Generating Renewable Energy to Electrify the Nation’s (Build Green) Infrastructure and Jobs Act’ includes $500 billion in grants over the next decade to electrify public transportation, including rail systems, buses and fleet vehicles.
At least $150 billion would be allocated for electric rails and vehicles and vehicle charging equipment. “Electrifying our cars, buses, and trains is a central pillar of the Green New Deal,” said Rep. Levin, who is also among the initiators of the new bill. Ocasio-Cortez, in a statement, added, “The BUILD Green Act applies many of the Green New Deal resolution’s transportation goals to grants provided by DOT.”
In detail, the BUILD Green Act would cover up to 85% of costs for state, local, and tribal projects, with an option for the Secretary of Transportation to cover 100% of costs. Besides, 40% of all funding is to be dedicated to projects in frontline, vulnerable, and disadvantaged communities to “correct decades of health disparities and environmental injustice,” reads the release.
The Transportation Department (DOT) would select recipients according to “the extent to which an eligible project contributes to climate resilience and mitigation, and reduces air pollution, air toxics, and greenhouse gas emissions” and how much energy it saves compared to other applicants.
There are also calls for eligible projects using electricity having to add renewable energy generation to cover the energy they consumed.
The initiators estimate the Act will reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 21.5 million metric tons of CO2 annually or the equivalent of taking 4.5 million combustion engine cars off the road.
They also hope to create up to one million “good new jobs with strong labour protections,” including a minimum wage of 15$ per hour or pay greater than the prevailing wage rate. There are also demands on no less than 12 workweeks of paid leave and fair scheduling policies and a local hiring preference. The latter approach is also in line with the “Buy American” Directive by the Department of Transportation.
The Biden-Harris administration had introduced the CLEAN Future Act at the beginning of March. It will see the US government unleash billions of dollars every year until 2030 to help decarbonise road transport, including private and government fleets.
The advances also follow one of President Biden’s first executive orders in which he had called on all agencies to come forward with decarbonisation proposals. Announced at the end of January it included that all of the government’s approximately 645,000 vehicles would be replaced by electric vehicles and that a supply chain analysis would be undertaken for battery resources.
The BUILD Green Act has found support from environmental organisations such as 350.org, Friends of the Earth, Zero Hour, or Greenpeace, among others such as GreenLatinos or the League of Conversation Voters.
A Data for Progress survey of likely voters found 57 per cent in favour of the BUILD Green plan.
Initiators Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey and Representatives Andy Levin and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez must now build support and introduce the BUILD Green and Jobs Act in the House and Senate. From there it is a way through Committees before the bill may eventually be put in front of the full chamber to vote.
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