How Biden’s Infrastructure Plan targets Climate

March 31, 2021

New York Times graphic


President Joe Biden this week is set to unveil details of a major infrastructure package that’s expected to include record spending on mitigating climate change and accelerating a nationwide transition to clean energy.

The president is expected to introduce up to $3 trillion in spending on efforts to boost the economy, including rebuilding aging infrastructure like highways, bridges and rail lines, and investing in technologies to reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

Some of the policies on the table include:

  • Installing thousands of new electric vehicle charging stations
  • Funds to build energy-efficient homes
  • Constructing new electric power lines

The package may be split between two bills, starting with legislation that incorporates Biden’s Build Back Better agenda and supports his goal to achieve carbon-free power generation by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050.

The recovery plan will potentially involve installing thousands of electric vehicle charging stations and providing incentives to encourage Americans to purchase electric vehicles.

As a candidate, Biden vowed to establish ambitious fuel economy standards for gasoline cars to encourage a shift to electric vehicles. The transportation sector accounts for the largest share of U.S. emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and could be the most difficult to decarbonize.

New York Times graphic

The package also is primed to include funding to build millions of new energy-efficient homes and retrofit existing buildings to increase efficiency. There’s money to construct electric power lines that provide renewable energy and expand electricity storage.

Paul Bledsoe, a former Clinton White House climate advisor now with the Progressive Policy Institute, said Biden’s goal is to jumpstart the economy and create new jobs during the transition away from fossil fuels.

“Electrifying America’s cars and trucks, creating a nationwide smart grid, expanding electricity storage to allow more renewable energy, establishing universal high speed internet — all of these are intended to boost the productivity and competitiveness of the economy, while also cutting emissions,” Bledsoe said.

Loading low-carbon energy initiatives into an infrastructure bill will likely be more divisive in Congress than previous Covid stimulus legislation. The last major push to pass climate legislation through the Senate was in 2009, when congressional Democrats failed to pass a carbon-pricing system.


5 Responses to “How Biden’s Infrastructure Plan targets Climate”

  1. Frank Price Says:

    • Nothing on the Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act (HR763) that would be an energy–wide stimulus for conservation & business innovation. Significantly, the dividend provides significant relief that will come from inevitable price increases (which will also occur under the plans above).
    • It’s likely to install lots in thruway & other locations that aren’t effective for current generation cars & trucks. They take too long to charge for people stopping for a bathroom break & burger, or a few groceries. Hope they mostly incentivize motels, job sites & fleet operations.

    • Mark Mev Says:

      I have seen many articles about the planned number of charging stations, and one other person that also said that the charging stations would not be fast chargers. I can’t find any documents to back this up. Can you point me to any?

      • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

        I have seen many articles about the planned number of charging stations, and one other person that also said that the charging stations would not be fast chargers.

        That would be pointless, of course. Even so, the fast-chargers take longer than tanking up, so there needs to be more station slot capacity built in.

        The big issue is which fast-charging standard will be adopted. Certainly not Tesla-proprietary, but likely CHAdeMO.

        There’s a psychological value in adding so many charging stations: People who hesitate to buy EVs because of range anxiety (even though they themselves rarely if ever drive anywhere close to a battery’s capacity in a day) might feel a bit less anxious.

  2. doldrom Says:

    I would gladly see a far greater portion of the money going to actual renewable energy, and less to concrete infra and other things.

    The government should hesitate to stick too much money in current technology and aim its money on changing broad incentives, supporting research, and in some cases giving a leg up for technology that might otherwise only very slowly get enough momentum to make inroads on established legacy infrastructure.

    The idea of giving people who can afford a Tesla rebates is very questionable. A budget neutral carbon dividend can unleash all the forces of the market and civil society. Just to mention two examples.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Well, we are way behind in infrastructure maintenance of bridges, dams, levees* and railways. This is less of a “let’s spruce up the place!” and more of a “let’s try to get ahead of the increasing collapse of elderly dams, levees and bridges” type of project.

      *Levee solutions include switching to more spillover options rather than having levees flank most of the length of a river.

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