The infrastructure improvements that are needed across the United States will now be in the hands of Congress and former Vice President Joe Biden, who as of press time for this issue of Pumps & Systems has been named the president-elect by the Associated Press.
While the ballots were still being tallied in early November, the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) released a statement from its CEO Doug Carlson, who said that in order for these projects to come to fruition, it will take commitment from Congress, which must allocate resources, and from the administration to plan and manage the programs.
“America needs to make infrastructure an immediate priority,” Carlson said. “Repairing or building new infrastructure for our American communities can dramatically solve several of today’s severe challenges, whether it be clean water, economic recovery, jobs, better highways and bridges, or modern telecom needs. A party label doesn’t matter when clean water isn’t delivered safely to constituents, or their wastewater isn’t efficiently taken away, or their internet connection is too slow.” Carlson noted that since “support for infrastructure investment cuts across age, gender, party, geography and ideology; there shouldn’t be an argument about
Investment in the country’s crumbling infrastructure has received bipartisan support in the past, and there is some knowledge of what the Biden Administration will likely do.
During his campaign, Biden announced a $2 trillion proposal for infrastructure and clean energy projects, plus a $1.3 trillion infrastructure plan as part of the Build Back Better program, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
The campaign website explains that the goal is to “create millions of good, union jobs rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure—from roads and bridges to green spaces and water systems to electricity grids and universal broadband—to lay a new foundation for sustainable growth, compete in the global economy, withstand the impacts of climate change, and improve public health, including access to clean air and clean water.”
Along with laying out the goal to build modern infrastructure, the website states: “Americans deserve infrastructure they can trust, infrastructure that is resilient to floods, fires, and other climate threats, not fragile in the face of these increasing risks. We need infrastructure that supports healthy, safe communities, rather than locking in the cumulative impacts of polluted air and poisonous water. And we need infrastructure, like universal broadband, that unleashes innovation and shared economic progress and educational opportunity to every community, rather than slowing it down.”
One part of the president-elect’s proposal is to ensure clean, safe drinking water for all communities. According to the Biden campaign website, this would take “investing in the repair of water pipelines and sewer systems, replacement of lead service pipes, upgrade of treatment plants, and integration of efficiency and water quality monitoring technologies. This includes protecting our watersheds and clean water infrastructure from manmade and natural disasters by conserving and restoring wetlands and developing green infrastructure and natural solutions.”
Under President Donald Trump, the recent update to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1970 was focused on speeding up the permitting process, the ASCE states. NEPA was put in place to require the consideration of the environmental impact of certain federal projects, including “the construction of roads, bridges, highways, transmission lines, conventional and renewable energy projects, broadband deployment, and water infrastructure.” The update the Trump administration made earlier this year stated that the intention was to modernize “its regulations to streamline the development of infrastructure projects and promote better decision-making by the federal government.”
Trump also proposed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan in 2018, which included items such as investment in the rural U.S. and returning decision-making authority to the state and local governments.