Baldwin pushes climate-ready infrastructure

    Sen. Tammy Baldwin

    Rebuilding roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects after they are wiped out by storms, floods and other disasters is increasingly urgent as climate change drives severe weather events.

    But  “too often, highway infrastructure is rebuilt to pre-disaster specifications, leaving roads and bridges vulnerable to another disaster,” U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin said in a statement on the bipartisan infrastructure reforms that passed a Senate committee on Tuesday. 

    The Senate Committee on Environment and Public works passed America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, which includes provisions from two bipartisan bills authored by Baldwin. One of those measures requires the Federal Highway Administration to give states the guidance and tools they need to build “resilient” infrastructure after a disaster, in order to be prepared for the next disaster. The second bill provides data to states and local governments to measure accessibility to local businesses and important destinations. It also inform investments in transportation systems. 

    Emergency preparedness has been complicated by anti-climate-change politics in Washington, DC and the states. In Wisconsin the words “climate change” were purged from official state communications by former Gov. Scott Walker.

    Gov. Tony Evers  promised to reverse Walker’s anti-science legacy, and to make policy based on the premise that “climate change is real and it’s an imminent threat to our state and to our economy.” State websites have begun restoring language that specifically addresses climate change, to help communities cope with and plan for extreme heat, flooding and other consequences of global warming.

    In a letter to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Baldwin, along with 40 other Senate co-signers, pointed out that “the transportation sector is now the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in our country.” Legislation on the nation’s roads and infrastructure must “take meaningful steps to address the transportation sectors’ contribution to climate change” and “make necessary long-term investments to make sure our nation’s infrastructure is more resilient to the variety of hazards posed by future climate conditions.”

    In addition to the resilience measures passed by the committee, Baldwin and the other letter signers recommend a $500 million investment per year from the Highway Trust Fund in electric charging stations and hydrogen-fueling infrastructure for low-emissions cars, as well as $1 billion per year for emissions-reducing transportation plans.

     

    Ruth Conniff
    Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine where she worked for many years from both Madison and Washington, DC. Shortly after Donald Trump took office she moved with her family to Oaxaca, Mexico, and covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Trump. Conniff is a frequent guest on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, CNN, Fox News and many other radio and television outlets. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. She graduated from Yale University in 1990, where she ran track and edited the campus magazine The New Journal. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and three daughters.

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