After getting into the funding the past two weeks, let’s dive into the plans for rural communities, specifically what the bipartisanInfrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) plans are to fund and improve those communities.
The IIJA directs billions of dollars of investment into rural communities across the country, ensuring that those areas will have access to high-speed internet, safe roads and bridges, modern wastewater systems, clean drinking water, affordable and reliant electricity, and good paying jobs. Now let’s dive into this:
Over 35% of rural Americans and Tribal communities lack wired access to broadband at acceptable speeds. The IIJA invests $65 billion to help make high-speed internet available to all Americans, bringing down the price across the board and providing people with the tools they need to access the digital world.
Create Jobs to Clean Pollution
This section of the IIJA will create well-paying jobs in rural America, delivering opportunity for new economic opportunities. This IIJA funding also will improve the health, safety, and quality of life of rural Americans by cleaning up hazardous sites and pollution.
Improving Transportation Options
Rural Americans face limited access to transportation options. This impairs their access to jobs and basic services, like health care. The IIJA invests billions of dollars to make sure rural families can get where they need to go.
Fixing Rural Roads & Bridges
While Americans living in rural areas account for 19% of the population, they comprise nearly half of all roadway fatalities, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The bipartisan Infrastructure Law will deliver safer roads, bridges, and railway crossings for rural Americans.
Clean Drinking Water and Basic Sanitation in Every Home
Across the country, pipes and treatment plants are aging, and polluted drinking water endanger public health. The IIJA’s investment in our water and wastewater infrastructure will fundamentally change quality of life for millions of Americans by eliminating lead pipes, providing critical access to sanitation, and more.
Last year, the United States faced 22 extreme weather and climate-related disaster events with losses over $1 billion – a cumulative price tag of nearly $100 billion. These included damaging floods, fires, and windstorms across rural America. The IIJA will improve the resilience of rural communities by implementing programs such as the Community Wildfire Defense Grant Program or the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Program, both of which reduce the risk of natural disasters.
Upgraded Electricity and Transmission Infrastructure
Power outages cost the U.S. economy up to $70 billion each year, and rural communities can be without power for days during these blackouts. To make our grid more reliable for these communities, the Biden Administration has launched a new “Building a Better Grid Initiative” to accelerate the deployment of new transmission lines that will connect Americans to cleaner, cheaper electricity, while improving the resilience and reliability of the grid. This initiative will leverage $16.5 billion in IIJA funding to reliably deliver clean, affordable power to more Americans. The goals are to improve the resilience of our grid infrastructure and help achieve 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035.
In addition, as part of the Justice40 initiative, the Biden Administration has committed to delivering at least 40% of the overall benefits from Federal climate, clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, clean water, and other investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution, which includes many Americans living in rural communities.
Rural Americans are essential to our country. It is critical to the state of our country that their lives are improved by creating jobs and ensuring that their infrastructure needs are met. These needs have fallen through the cracks for far too long, especially in terms of road and bridge rehabilitation. Hopefully, that is about to change. We’ll continue to monitor how the implementation of the IIJA impacts rural infrastructure.
Stay tuned for next week as we dive deeper into what is in the IIJA.