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While much focus has been on the Build Back Better Act as transformative climate legislation, which has been approved by the House bit is still awaiting approval by the Senate, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law on November 15th, quietly makes significant investments in climate mitigation and adaptation. Among the various amounts allocated to infrastructure improvements in the bill, about $50B is earmarked for fighting and combating the effects of climate change. Many of these measures are reactive, mitigating the impact of climate change that has already occurred, such as carbon capture and replacing roads to withstand extreme rainfall. However, the bill also includes funding for research into alternative energy methods, electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure, and public transportation, which could reduce future emissions.
In this blog, we have highlighted the sections of this bill that are most relevant for climate change.
There are several provisions in the bill which aim to reduce our nation’s GHG emissions through investments in carbon capture and sequestration.
- Section 40304: Will authorize $600 million for 2022 and 2023 and $300 million for each year between 2024 and 2026 for grants and loan guarantees for projects for transporting captured carbon dioxide, with the caveat that each project must cost more than $100 million, with the government paying up to 80% of the costs
- Section 40305: Funds new or expanded carbon sequestration projects ($2.5 billion through 2026)
- Section 40308: Funds grants or contracts to form four regional hubs to capture 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year ($3.5 billion through 2026)
- Section 11403: Allows states to use federal funds for initiatives related to carbon capture that are put in place with conjunction with surface transportation infrastructure
In addition to the provisions of the bill that fund carbon sequestration, the Bipartisan Infrastructure and Investment and Jobs Act includes climate adaptation funding that should improve resiliency to climate related events.
- Section 11405: Provides grants to improve the resiliency of infrastructure against natural disasters and changing weather conditions. Improvements can include “facility restoration, rehabilitation, reconstruction, replacement, improvement, or realignment; floodwater mitigation measures and improvements to rainwater and stormwater management; natural infrastructure; seismic retrofits for bridges; and roadway relocations from floodplains.” There is an emphasis on protecting evacuation routes caused by climate related emergencies.
- Section 11406: Provides grants to expand tree coverage and install reflective pavements to improve air quality and reduce heat in urban areas and reduce flood risk. Allocation: Max grant of $15M, $100M each year for 5 years
- Section 40101: Funds grants to electric grid operators, electricity storage operations, electricity generators, transmission owners and operators, distribution suppliers, fuels suppliers, and other entities chosen by the Secretary of Energy to prevent the risk of wildfires caused by powerlines. Total grant of $5 billion (states match 15% and grantees must match 100% of funds received)
Renewable and Clean Energy
The Act also makes significant investments in research for hydrogen and nuclear fuel, funds efforts to introduce efficiencies in hydroelectric power generation and provides additional funding for geothermal, wind and solar projects.
- Section 40313: Funds R&D for using hydrogen for power generation and industrial processes and transportation
- Section 40314: Funds a program to create “4 regional clean hydrogen hubs” for production, processing, delivery, storage, and end-use of “clean hydrogen” from fossil fuels, renewable energy, nuclear energy. Includes a program to co commercialize the production of hydrogen by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. Authorizes $9.5 billion through 2026
- Section 40315: Defines clean hydrogen as hydrogen with a “carbon intensity equal to or less than 2 kilograms of carbon dioxide-equivalent produced at the site of production per kilogram of hydrogen produced” 11
- Sections 40331 and 40332 authorize one-time payments of $125M and $75M for hydroelectric efficiency improvements in 2022
- Section 40333: Funds repairs and improvements to existing dams ($553M, max grant of $5M each)
- Section 41004: Authorizes between $700 million and $1.3 billion per year through 2025 for advanced nuclear reactor demonstration projects
- Section 41007: Authorizes $84 million through 2025 for geothermal energy projects, $100 million through 2025 for wind energy projects and $80 million through 2025 for solar energy projects
Energy Efficient Transportation
The infrastructure bill provides for investments in reducing the carbon intensity of transportation through increased support for electric vehicle charging, reduction of congestion in ports and on roads and establishing a foundation for the proliferation of rail travel.
- Section 11401: Establishes a grant program for states and other public entities to build, maintain and operate EV charging infrastructure. Also includes grants for hydrogen, propane, and natural gas infrastructure. Grants up to $15M each, $2.5B a year for 5 years
- Section 11404: Allows state or metropolitan planning organizations in areas of 1 million people or more to fund congestion relief programs with grants of $10 million
- Section 11402: Establishes a program to reduce idling at ports. This fund will be used to “test, evaluate, and deploy projects that reduce port-related emissions from idling trucks, including through the advancement of port electrification and improvements in efficiency, focusing on port operations, including heavy-duty commercial vehicles, and other related projects.”
- Section 22101: Appropriates $3.3 to $4.57B a year to Amtrack through 2026
- Section 22214: Funds Amtrak to study bringing back long-distance rail routes that were discontinued
- Sections 22304 and 22308: Section 22304 increases payments to rail carriers for passenger rail service while section 22308 authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to create a program for public entities to plan for expanded intercity passenger rail corridors
There is still much more needed to change the trajectory of global carbon emissions and likely much more in the form of regulatory reform on the horizon, the Bipartisan Infrastructure and Investment Act makes significant investments in climate mitigation and adaptation and the transformation of our energy and transportation industries.