AUSTIN - The U.S. House of Representatives voted 228-206 last night to build a bridge to a brighter future by passing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Friday. This major bipartisan package will improve Texas' transportation and power infrastructure and ensure clean water over the coming decades. Up next: a budget reconciliation bill that would help the U.S. stall climate change and clean up our environment. The Build Back Better Act includes clean energy tax incentives and other investments to tackle pollution.
The vote follows years of failed “Infrastructure Weeks” and months of debate over President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which included many of the president’s proposals, passed the U.S. Senate earlier this summer by a 69-30 vote, including “ayes” from 19 Republican senators. Key environmental provisions include:
- $55 billion for removing lead pipes and other water infrastructure. There are an estimated 270,000 lead service lines still in Texas. Texas had 6000 sewage overflows in 2019, leading the American Society of Civil Engineers to give Texas' wastewater infrastructure a grade of D. According to a White House factsheet, "Texas will expect to receive $2.9 billion over five years."
- $7.5 billion to build electric vehicle charging stations. Texas would expect to receive $408 million over five years and would "have the opportunity to apply for the $2.5 billion in grant funding." Texas needs an estimated 12,400 level 2 charging stations and 1,720 level 3 "fast charging stations" by 2030 to meet projected demand.
- $73 billion for electric grid and power infrastructure. Transmission constraints contributed to the deadly blackouts in Texas in February and are leading to curtailments of wind and solar energy.
- $66 billion for passenger and freight rail. Amtrak has proposed new rail service connecting Dallas to Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston and Texas Central is working to build high speed rail between Dallas and Houston. These projects could potentially benefit from the new funding.
- $39 billion for public transit (the largest investment in public transit in history). According to the White House, "based on formula funding alone, Texas would expect to receive $3.3 billion over five years." Austin's Project Connect, Houston's MetroNext and other transit expansion projects could benefit.
- $21 billion for environmental remediation. Texas has 55 superfund sites, 32 abandoned mines and 783,000 unplugged oil and gas wells.
- $7.5 billion in zero and low emission buses. At least 13 school districts in Texas have expressed interest in purchasing electric buses. 9 transit agencies in Texas have already, or plan to, purchase electric buses.