Biden Seeks to Overhaul Nation’s Power Grid, Transit Systems in Historic Infrastructure Plan

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President Biden on Wednesday asked Congress for a massive infusion of funds to renovate the nation’s power grids and develop renewable energy as part of a landmark program designed to tackle climate change and develop American jobs.

The estimated $ 2 trillion U.S. jobs plan, if enacted by a divided Congress, would be the most ambitious federal investment program yet to tackle global greenhouse gas emissions and fight against economic inequalities. The president, who has campaigned in part to move towards a clean energy economy, is pitching the proposal as a major jobs agenda as it seeks to build union support.

The deal is also touted as a way to compete with China’s growing power.

“The president’s plan will unify and mobilize the country to meet the great challenges of our time: the climate crisis and the ambitions of an autocratic China,” according to the White House.

Butcher wells

Specifically for the oil and gas sector, the president has funds to plug abandoned oil and gas wells, as well as abandoned mines.

The jobs plan “would put the energy industry to work plugging orphaned oil and gas wells and cleaning up abandoned mines.” Hundreds of thousands of old orphaned oil and gas wells and abandoned mines pose serious safety risks, while causing permanent damage to air, water and the environment.

Biden’s plan includes an “immediate initial investment of $ 16 billion that will allow hundreds of thousands of people to work in union jobs plugging oil and gas wells and restoring and reclaiming coal, rock mines. hard and uranium abandoned “.

The investment is also designed to “reduce the methane and brine that escape from these wells, just as we invest in reducing leaks from other sources such as aging pipes and distribution systems.”

Funds are also earmarked for the power sector overhaul over eight years, with tax credits for the construction of high voltage transmission lines and renewable energy / carbon capture projects.

“In 2020, the United States suffered 22 separate $ 1 billion weather and climate disasters, costing $ 95 billion in damage to homes, businesses and public infrastructure,” the White House noted. “In Louisiana, Hurricane Laura caused $ 19 billion in damage, resulting in ruptured water systems and a severely damaged power grid that prevented a rapid recovery.

“To rebuild better, investments in this historic plan must make our infrastructure more resilient in the face of increasingly severe floods, wildfires, hurricanes and other risks. Every dollar spent to rebuild our infrastructure during the Biden administration will be used to prevent, reduce and resist the impacts of the climate crisis. “

“Aging electrical network”

Highlighting the power outages in Texas in February, the administration said “the country’s aging power grid is in urgent need of modernization.” Biden called on Congress to invest $ 100 billion to build a “more resilient power transmission system” that includes an investment tax credit to incentivize building at least 20 GW of high-voltage power lines.

The president, who wants to move “towards 100% carbon-free energy by 2035”, proposed to expand and expand investment and production tax credits for production and alternative energy storage. In addition, Biden wants to set a standard for energy efficiency and clean electricity to reduce utility bills and electrical pollution, as well as stimulate competition, while leveraging “the carbon pollution-free energy provided.” by existing sources such as nuclear and hydroelectricity ”.

The president also believes that “the market-based transition to clean energy presents enormous opportunities for the development of new markets and new industries,” noted the White House.

“For example, by pairing an investment in 15 carbon-free hydrogen demonstration projects in distressed communities with a new production tax credit, we can stimulate retrofits and installations of investment projects that boost and decarbonize our industry. ”

Modernization of carbon capture

The plan would also establish 10 “pioneering facilities that demonstrate carbon capture modernization for large steel, cement and chemical production facilities, while ensuring overburdened communities are protected from cumulative pollution increases. “.

To accelerate the use and storage of carbon capture (CCUS), the plan would reform and expand the Section 45Q tax credit, making it “easier to use for hard-to-decarbonize industrial applications, direct capture of air and the modernization of existing power plants ”.

Electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure would also be extended, with the goal of building 500,000 charging stations by 2030.

“The US market share of plug-in electric vehicle sales is only one-third the size of China’s electric vehicle market,” administration officials noted. The proposed $ 174 billion investment is designed “to win the electric vehicle market.”

The plan is designed to boost national supply chains from raw materials to parts, retool factories to be globally competitive, and help American workers make batteries and electric vehicles. The plan would replace 50,000 diesel transit vehicles and electrify at least 20 percent of the nation’s yellow school bus fleet, as well as the federal fleet, including the U.S. Postal Service.

Billions are also being offered to expand climate-related research and demonstration projects, as well as the manufacture of climate-friendly technologies.

“In all of these infrastructure investments, the focus will be on making our future infrastructure more resilient to climate change and on meeting the President’s commitment to target 40% of the benefits of these investments in infrastructure specific to disadvantaged communities, ”the White House said. the spokesperson said in a briefing on Tuesday.

“This plan would make a generational investment in the modernization and reorientation of our electrical infrastructure in this country for the carbon-free electrical future we are heading towards …, by investing in transmission, storage, network resilience.”

The American Petroleum Institute (API) has said it supports some of the Biden administration’s proposals, but not all.

“We support the administration’s goal of modernizing the country’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges, railways and ports,” said Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of political, economic and regulatory affairs of the API. “We also welcome the administration’s efforts to face the risks of climate change by encouraging innovation for hydrogen and CCUS as part of this infrastructure package.

“At the same time, this proposal misses an opportunity to take a holistic approach to meeting all of our infrastructure needs, including on modern pipelines,” he said.

“Targeting specific industries with new taxes would only undermine the country’s economic recovery and jeopardize well-paying jobs, including unionized jobs. It is important to note that our industry does not benefit from any special tax treatment, and we will continue to advocate for a tax code that promotes a level playing field for all economic sectors as well as policies that support and increase tax rates. billions of dollars in government revenue we help generate. “

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