President Biden Takes Office and Infrastructure Takes Center Stage

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Yesterday, President Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, ushering in a new Administration which has indicated that infrastructure will be a key priority. Shortly after taking office, President Biden issued a series of Executive Orders (EOs), with additional EOs expected in the upcoming weeks. Immediate actions have been aimed at combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, immigration, and dealing with the ongoing economic crisis.

President Biden has also released an Executive Order which is aimed to reverse many of the Trump Administration’s energy and environment policies. That order identifies several EPA regulations that will be targeted for reconsideration, including: methane emission limits for new oil and gas sources; rules rolling back tailpipe carbon dioxide limits and revoking California’s special regulatory waiver; the science transparency rule; the Clean Air Act cost-benefit analysis rule; and the agency’s finding that mercury limits for power plants were not “appropriate and necessary”.

Once the initial onslaught of Executive Orders slows, expect President Biden to turn his attention to his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief proposal that he unveiled last week. That proposal, billed as the American Rescue Plan, includes $20 billion for transit agencies and is a prelude to a further economic relief package that the President will unveil in the upcoming weeks.

President Biden has indicated that he wants to spend $2 trillion on infrastructure, including $50 billion on roads and bridges in just his first year. The President’s plan also is expected to focus on green infrastructure, water systems, the electric grid, and broadband – all investments that would be made sustainably in order to withstand the impacts of climate change and improve public health. The President’s desire to move a big infrastructure package, combined Democratic control of both the House and Senate – the President’s own party— provides a real opportunity in 2021 to make a significant investment in our nation’s infrastructure.

As Congress works with the Administration to develop a either a comprehensive infrastructure package, or a series of sector-specific bills, ASCE has asked Congress to consider certain key priorities for any investments. These include ensuring that any infrastructure legislation is aimed at helping the nation prepare for a sustainable and resilient future, prioritizing asset management and O&M needs, and restoring a strong federal partner in infrastructure investment.

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