Is Biden’s infrastructure bill a climate bill?
Speaking Security Newsletter | Advisory Note for Organizers and Candidates, n°132 | 11 November 2021
No, it isn’t a climate bill
Based on this calculation by a climate scientist, the infrastructure bill barely moves the needle on greenhouse gas emissions, falling well short of what’s needed. This sort of climate modeling is far more complicated than the straightforward, follow-the-money charts I typically do here, but far as I can tell from this dude’s methodology, funding plays a role—either because some provisions are funded too much and others too little—in addition to the consequences of the legal instructions embedded in the bill text.
That said, I think there’s a good chance the infrastructure bill might have reflected much more positively reflected in the climate scientist’s projections had climate funding remained the same from the original bill to the final version of the bill that was analyzed. After all, a lot of climate provisions—particularly those related to emissions mitigation—were cut out of the bill between its introduction in March and when it passed Congress last week.
This analysis was the product of cross-referencing reports by CFRB, CSIS, NYT, and the Intercept, as well as and White House fact sheets. The climate-related categories are largely based on how CSIS divided them up in its report on the original infrastructure bill. So in “emissions mitigation,” I included funding for provisions related to the following: electric vehicles, charging; public transit; rail service; climate-specific research and development; climate-specific research incubators; energy efficient housing; clean energy and sustainability accelerator project; power infrastructure, and pollution cleanup. For “green industry” I included funding for manufacturing and supply chains; grants or specialized funding for projects through the National Science Foundation, Department of Commerce, and National Institute of Standards and Technology; workforce development and protection; clean energy manufacturing; small business development, and regional innovation hubs. For “environmental justice” I included initiatives to reconnect neighborhoods, modernize drinking water supplies and water quality; develop rural water systems, and replace lead pipes and service lines. “Just transition” factored in provisions for worker relief and training; workforce development in underserved communities; worker protection enforcement, and a rural partnership program. “Climate adaptation” refers to funding related to reinforcing and building infrastructure in response to worsening conditions caused by climate change. Between the original and final versions of the infrastructure bill, most climate provisions were defunded entirely. The second-most popular outcome was a partial defunding. Only two of the climate projects itemized above were left untouched: climate resilience and pollution cleanup.
Thanks for your time,