What the Infrastructure Bill Does About Climate Change

What the Infrastructure Bill Does About Climate Change
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What the Infrastructure Bill Does About Climate Change

What the Infrastructure Bill Does About Climate Change

As the United States goes through another year of devastating wildfires, droughts, storms and other calamities, the infrastructure bill before Congress would devote significant resources to a response. The measure agreed to over the weekend includes billions of dollars to better prepare the country for the effects of global warming, in what could be the biggest investment in climate resilience in American history.

Much of the money would go to activities that are already underway, but which experts say the government needs to do more about as threats from climate change increase.

For example, the US Army Corps of Engineers would get an additional $ 11.6 billion in construction funds for projects such as flood control and river dredging. The Forest Service would get billions of dollars to remove flammable vegetation from the lands it manages, in an effort to make forest fires less damaging.

Other funding would go to new approaches. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would receive $ 492 million to map and forecast inland and coastal flooding, including “next-generation water modeling activities.” NOAA would also get $ 50 million to forecast, model and forecast forest fires.

The Department of Transportation would give states money to move highways out of flood-prone areas. The Environmental Protection Agency would pay for communities to relocate drinking water infrastructure threatened by flooding or other extreme weather conditions.

It is not just the infrastructure that would be displaced. The bill would provide $ 216 million to the Office of Indian Affairs for resilience and climate change adaptation of tribal nations, which have been disproportionately affected by climate change. More than half of that money, $ 130 million, would go to “community resettlement” – moving Native American groups away from vulnerable areas.

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In other cases, the bill seeks to protect the most vulnerable Americans not by displacing them, but by ensuring that they receive a greater share of the federal money.

The legislation provides $ 3.5 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reduce flood damage. It specifically gives FEMA the power to allocate some of that money to areas with high scores on the “Social Vulnerability Index” – a gauge that reflects poverty levels, the share of racial minorities and others. measures.

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