Sustainability Infrastructure

Sen Warren, Rep Ocasio-Cortez introduce $500B bill to create green infrastructure jobs

Story at a glance

  • Several lawmakers, including former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), introduced the BUILD GREEN Act to incentivize sustainable transit development.
  • Preliminary data estimates the act would save lives and help consumers save on fuel prices.

Last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), along with Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Andrew Levin (D-Mich.) unveiled a bill aimed at recalibrating state and tribal infrastructure to implement environmentally sustainable transportation solutions in place of current systems.

Titled the BUILD GREEN Infrastructure and Jobs Act, the proposed bill is modeled after the U.S Department of Transportation’s (DOT) original Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant awards, a program that gives federal funding to approved projects to repair transportation networks across the U.S. 

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), transportation accounts for 28 percent of all pollution in the U.S. — the most of all other sources.


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Similar to the original BUILD, the BUILD Green Act would award grants to projects focused on implementing electric transit systems.

The bill’s mission runs parallel to the Green New Deal previously proposed by Ocasio-Cortez in 2019 that would overhaul the nation’s infrastructure to make it more sustainable as a means to halt climate change. 

“The climate crisis is an existential threat to our planet, but it’s also a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, create a million good new jobs, and unleash the best of American innovation,” Warren said in prepared remarks. “The BUILD GREEN Infrastructure and Jobs Act will make the big federal investments necessary to transform our country’s transportation system, confront the racial and economic inequality embedded in our fossil fuel economy, and achieve the ambitious targets for 100% clean energy in America.”

Some of the hallmarks of the bill include a $150 billion of funding to go toward creating electric public transit networks, along with other transportation systems like highways and bridges. 

 

 

States, tribes, port authorities, units of local governments and transit agencies are each eligible to submit a project for BUILD GREEN funding, with each state being guaranteed to receive at least $2 billion for sustainable infrastructure projects. 

Each project would ideally contribute to climate resilience and sustainability along with air pollution mitigation and work to reduce energy usage and thereby reduce carbon emissions.

Corresponding data estimating the bill’s economic impact reveal that BUILD Green stands to invest between $45 to $300 billion dollars over the next decade in sustainable infrastructure. Roughly 960,000 jobs are estimated to be created in response to the litany of projects funded by BUILD GREEN. 

A staggering 21.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide would be reduced per year with the implementation of electric transit, which could translate to 4,200 fewer fatalities caused by responses to ambient air pollution.

The implementation of the bill into law is also projected to save people $29.5 billion on average in terms of fuel costs. 

Multiple nonprofit environmental advocacy organizations, such as Greenpeace, support the bill. 

“Equitably addressing the climate crisis means investing in family-sustaining jobs, clean air, and the communities who are leading the fight for racial, economic, and environmental justice,” Sierra Club Economy Director Ben Beachy said. “Senator Warren’s BUILD GREEN Infrastructure and Jobs Act will create hundreds of thousands of good jobs while upgrading our crumbling infrastructure, slashing pollution, and confronting long-standing inequities, and the Sierra Club is proud to endorse it.”


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