Lawmakers Could Find Common Ground On Energy Infrastructure Upgrade

There is a great deal of uncertainty about how such a sweeping initiative would be funded.

By Courtney St. John and Steve Hargreaves

It’s pretty hard to identify any areas of cooperation between Democrats and Republicans right now, but one thing they both agree needs addressing is our nation’s infrastructure.

It’s no secret that our many of nation’s roads, highways and power lines are out of date and in many places outright dangerous. America’s infrastructure earned a D+ on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2013 “Infrastructure Report Card.” The country’s dilapidated infrastructure costs households around $3,400 annually. Crumbling roads slow commutes and aging electricity grids make power bills more expensive. Notably, the nation’s energy system earned a lower grade than its bridges, ports and railways.

Modernizing the electricity grid would improve resilience in the face extreme weather and cyber attacks, expand access to clean wind and solar energy, and shrink monthly power pills.

America’s infrastructure earned a D+ on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2013 Infrastructure Report Card.

Last week, Senate Democrats released a $1 trillion plan that they say will create 15 million jobs over ten years. The plan includes $100 billion for an updated grid, which would create an estimated 1.3 million jobs.

The Trump team is actively working on its own list of priorities. It recently reached out to the National Governor’s Association with a sample list of projects and asked for input from governors. Six of the 50 projects on the list are energy-related, including transmission lines needed to carry wind and solar energy across state lines.

It remains to be seen how and when Congress will take up infrastructure, but it likely won’t happen until after it deals with the Affordable Care Act and tax reform. There is a great deal of uncertainty about how such a sweeping initiative would be funded. But the fact the two parties agree on anything is a sign of hope in what’s shaping up to be a contentious year.

Courtney St. John and Steve Hargreaves write for Nexus Media, a syndicated newswire covering climate, energy, policy, art and culture. You can follow them at @CourtSaintJohn and @shargrea.

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