Unfortunately, the capital of our nation is not known for its ability get things done.
You can pick any problem that Congress has debated over the years in Washington, D.C., and they will probably find a way not too act on it. After years of failing infrastructure weeks, Democrats and Republicans came together to deliver the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in November.
While most people don’t spend too much time in Congress talking about infrastructure, this tangible framework of the country — from sturdy roads, bridges, and pipes that deliver clean water, and lines that provide clean electricity — plays an important role in maintaining public safety and the environment. This bipartisan bill makes significant investments in Pennsylvania’s clean drinking water, transportation system, and electricity infrastructure. These investments will have a lasting impact on Pennsylvania for many years to come.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a landmark investment that makes a significant contribution to improving Pennsylvania’s water quality. We need it. In Pennsylvania schools across the state, unsafe levels have been detected in the drinking water. Lead service lines still exist in older residential homes.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stated that no level of lead exposure was safe and that children are particularly at risk from lead.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act invests a record $55Billion to modernize the nation’s drinking water systems. This is the largest such investment in American History.
Pennsylvania can expect to receive $1.4B to fix lead service lines, pipes, and money to address toxic PFAS. These harmful chemicals are often found in everyday products and get into our drinking water.
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This legislation also addresses another long-standing, pervasive toxic problem: the cleanup of Superfund sites, which are the worst-of the-worst toxic dumps in the country.
Living near toxic waste sites should not be a requirement. Pennsylvania has 127 Superfund Sites, more than any other state. Residents living near toxic sites are at risk from chemicals that pollute our air and water. They also increase the risks of serious illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and respiratory problems.
The bill allocates $21 billion to environmental remediation across the country, which is a record investment in Superfund cleanup and other polluted areas. Pennsylvania could receive some of the funding to address superfund sites in the Commonwealth.
Apart from the important provisions to clean water and remediate toxic sites, the bill also makes a number a groundbreaking investments, including $7.5 Billion for a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations — the federal government’s first investment in electric car infrastructure.
Pennsylvania will receive $171 million over five-years to help expand an EV charging network throughout the Commonwealth.
The bipartisan bill also guarantees $5 billion for a national capital investment in electric school busses and low-emission buses. This will help Poconos schools and other districts to stop using diesel.
These investments will allow local communities to buy clean, electric school buses. It will also make it easier to purchase and charge electric cars. This investment in cleaner vehicles will help to reduce the harmful pollutants that contribute to climate change, pollute our air, and put Pennsylvania’s children at higher risk for developing asthma and other serious health conditions.
These investments in Pennsylvania’s infrastructure represent a strong first step to address threats to drinking water, reduce air pollution, and protect our health in the Poconos, as well as throughout the Commonwealth.
Now it is time to expand these investments by passing the Build Back better Act.
We are grateful that Representatives Cartwright & Wild voted in favor of both these important bills. We are eager to see Build back Better pass the Senate so that we can provide even more for the people of Pennsylvania as well as our environment.
PennEnvironment’s Field Director is Flora Cardoni.
This article first appeared on Pocono Record Opinion: Poconos could be revitalized by infrastructure