120+ Groups Say Key Climate, Equity Provisions Needed in Infrastructure Bill
WASHINGTON – A group of more than 120 health, environment and social justice groups called on congressional leaders to ensure that bold climate and equity provisions are included in any infrastructure bill that advances in Congress.
“We need legislation that meets the moment,” the groups wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “Any legislation on infrastructure needs to address the backlog of repairs, the challenge of climate change and the inequities in our transportation system.”
To meet the moment, we need bold federal action, such as that provided for in the House-passed INVEST Act.
“The INVEST Act takes a comprehensive approach to climate and equity, incorporating those goals into virtually every aspect of the federal transportation program,” the letter says. “We recommend that the INVEST Act be considered the base text for any transportation bill.”
The letter was organized by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), Transportation for America, and Just Transit.
If that bill isn’t used as the basis for the legislation, key elements from it must be adopted in the final legislation:
- Reconnect communities to fix the historic damage wrought by urban highway construction that divided Black and brown communities;
- Fund safe streets for all to ensure pedestrians, bikers and others aren’t harmed on the roads;
- Correct for the four-to-one disparity in highway-to-transit investments in the past by boosting funding for transit;
- Focus federal highway funds on maintenance to address the $435 billion repair backlog;
- Support deployment of zero-emission vehicle facilities and infrastructure commensurate with the $40 billion need;
- Institute a comprehensive performance measurement framework to measure and reduce carbon pollution;
- Provide a stronger role for local governments.
In addition to these critical components, lawmakers cannot undercut environmental reviews. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) remains a critical federal screening mechanism to ensure that climate, environmental, and community impacts are considered and raises the voices of overburdened communities in project decisions prior to them being finalized.
For more on these priorities and the letter, please see this blog by Deron Lovaas, a senior advocate at NRDC.
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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.