LETTER: The Infrastructure Bill is a “Bipartite Achievement”
The American Society of Civil Engineers hailed President Biden’s signing on November 15 of the $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill as “a historic bipartisan achievement that represents the largest investment in critical infrastructure in our country. country for a generation or more “.
The organization’s praise for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) is not surprising, as it estimated the U.S. infrastructure investment gap at $ 2.590 billion over 10 years.
According to ASCE:
“Bad roads and airports mean increased travel times. An aging power grid and inadequate water supply make utilities unreliable. Problems like these translate into higher costs for businesses to manufacture and distribute goods and provide services. These higher costs, in turn, are passed on to workers and families. “
The $ 47 billion designation by the IIJA for climate resilience, including flood control, is critical. To quote Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), co-author of the climate adaptation bill’s provisions:
“There are people living in the parish of Livingston, for example, which was flooded in 2016, whose lives – everything in their life has been destroyed. The photos of their children, the wedding dress they got married in, the house they lived in, which had never been flooded before – the fact that we are helping our fellow Americans avoid this gives me an incredible sense of satisfaction.
Although $ 47 billion for adaptation has been labeled transformational, it is only a fraction of the amount needed. An October report from the First Street Foundation, a flood research group, concludes that a quarter of our country’s critical infrastructure, such as airports, hospitals and power plants, are at risk of becoming unusable due to flooding aggravated by climate change.
Regarding the interest of preparing for climate risks, the fourth national climate assessment states:
“Adaptation cost estimates vary from tens to hundreds of billions of dollars per year, but are expected to save several times that in the long run. For example, using sandbags to protect homes in South Florida can have a 20-to-1 benefit-cost ratio, while levees and levees along the Gulf Coast can have a cost-benefit ratio. benefit-cost ratio of 2.3: 1 for refineries and petrochemical plants.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change views financing for climate resilience as an investment in avoided costs. According to Brian O’Callaghan, co-author of the United Nations Gap Adaptation Report: “Investing in climate adaptation is a bit like buying insurance for a known event. We pay $ 1 today to save $ 10 tomorrow.
While the bipartisan infrastructure law protects our communities, ports and roads from climate risks, the Build Back Better Act, which is currently before the Senate, is said to spend more than $ 500 billion on energy projects. cleanliness and incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid worst climate scenarios.
Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, and the more we emit, the greater the impacts. The 2019 report, A Climate Security Plan for America: A Presidential Plan for Combating the Security Risks of Climate Change, warns:
“It cannot be assumed that the United States will adapt naturally to the security risks of climate change in the future. The President has a responsibility to protect our national security against future climate threats by ensuring that they never materialize. “
The foresight demonstrated by the climate change provisions of the Build Back Better program is refreshing at a time often characterized by wise but stupid short-termism. The implementation of these policies would signify American leadership and constitute a crucial step in the fight against the climate.
Hales Corners, Wisconsin.