The landscape of our nation points to an emphasis on improving infrastructure and a cleaner environment
By Brian Alvarado
As President-Elect Joe Biden and his administration prepare to lead our country, it’s no secret that the topics of infrastructure and sustainability are main focuses for lawmakers going into 2021.
Although talking about change is much easier than enacting it, the writing is on the wall that hints toward a more modernized infrastructure system and a greener environment for the US.
Bold Infrastructure Policy and Bipartisan Agreement
If there’s one area that includes bipartisan agreement, it’s infrastructure. Our infrastructure, however, has been crumbling for decades. The American Society of Civil Engineers 2017 report card and handed the U.S. a grade of D+. While the 2021 report, which will be coming out in the upcoming weeks, is unlikely to show drastic changes, Biden’s plans in addressing our infrastructure immediately is a step in the right direction to bring that grade up.
Biden’s pick to lead the U.S. Department of Transportation Pete Buttigieg recently made it apparent that the focus on infrastructure is vital and would be a major area of emphasis for the incoming administration.
“We should be leading the world when it comes to transportation infrastructure, not catching up,” Buttigieg told MSNBC in December. “Safety is the fundamental reason why we need to make sure that our bridges, and our roads, for example, are in better shape than they are today. And I do think there’s a bipartisan awareness of how important that is.”
According to an article in Transport Topics, the Biden administration is expected to propose a multi trillion-dollar infrastructure package that would dedicate $50 billion to address highways and bridges.
Aside from transportation, Biden has also touched on other aspects of infrastructure, which includes ensuring our nation has clean water and improving broadband infrastructure to allow Americans to stay connected to their jobs and school in this time of social distancing.
A Green Revolution
Sustainability and resilience is another hot topic in the U.S. because of the ongoing pandemic. The push toward a cleaner future could have a positive impact on the physical health of our citizens.
According to Vox, Campaign Press Secretary Jamal Brown says the president-elect has brainstormed at least 10 clean energy executive actions to pursue.
Not only has the incoming administration harped on the implementation of cleaner energy, but American citizens have voiced their concern over global climate change, according to a survey by Pew Research Center. In the survey, 60% of U.S. citizens said climate change is a major threat to the country’s well-being, a jump from 44% in 2009.
Additionally, as important as the Department of Energy was in the Obama administration 12 years ago, the agency is ready to play a vital role in our nation’s recovery, with the Biden administration looking to use clean energy investments toward its goals of economic recovery and a zero emission future.
Even automakers are beginning to jump on the clean energy wagon. In August, the California Air Resources Board finalized deals with BMW, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and Volvo to clean up car emissions. The need for green seems to be coming from a variety of sectors, not just the Biden administration.
Things like powering our trains and busses with electricity and cleaner fuels to reduce carbon emissions will be part of a much broader infrastructure conversation among lawmakers in 2021.
Job Growth on the Horizon?
Since the pandemic, millions of Americans were put out of work, and the downturn put a dent into the economy. According to CNN, the country’s unemployment rate went from 3.5% to a record-breaking 14.7% in April. In a recent report from ADP Research Institute, the number of employees at U.S. businesses declined in December for the first time since April, dropping 123,000.
To address the job crisis, Biden hopes that infrastructure investments and clean energy initiatives will solve it, similar to our nation’s infrastructure-focused approach decades ago during the Great Depression, resulting in the creation of millions of jobs that not only will help in the short term, but set up future generations for success in addition to having robust roads, bridges, transportation systems and more.
As translated on his website, Biden is banking on America’s own resources to address our deteriorating infrastructure, relying on American union labor and American-made materials and products. Aside from infrastructure jobs, Biden is planning on creating 10 million clean energy jobs as a result as well.
The outlook for 2021 should be one that’s focused on expediting the road to recovery. As vaccines are beginning to distribute around the nation, the end of the pandemic is closer than we think. As mentioned earlier, it’s much easier to say than to do. If lawmakers can finally address the age-old question of infrastructure and a greener future, the reciprocating effects could bring fruitful results.
Brian Alvarado is the editor for American Infrastructure Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.