Building Back Better: Investing in Clean Infrastructure to Drive Economic Recovery

Infrastructure Memo Header

Infrastructure investments are an effective way to help jumpstart an economic recovery. These projects can put a lot of people to work relatively quickly, generate massive amounts of activity across multiple economic sectors, and there’s never a shortage of things that need building or repairing.  If done strategically, major infrastructure initiatives also allow a country to prepare for the future by making transportation of goods and services more efficient, expanding access to critical resources, and protecting itself against challenges like extreme heat, flooding, or storms made worse by climate change.

As the world continues to move toward a future with lower carbon emissions, the U.S. must seize investment opportunities that put workers back on the job and get the economy humming in a much cleaner way. This memo recommends dozens of policies to promote worthy infrastructure projects that deliver on all fronts.

Making Sure America Gets Its Money's Worth

The amount of infrastructure spending being discussed for economic stimulus is mind-boggling. Though it’s easy to lose context once we get into the hundreds of billions, no one should be thinking of this as “play money.” Congress has an obligation to invest these funds in a way that maximizes economic recovery, and misses no opportunity to help the U.S. achieve vital national goals. The following principles for infrastructure investments can ensure the country gets its money’s worth:

Buy American

If Americans are the ones making investments in infrastructure, they should be the ones reaping the benefits. The U.S. already has a “Buy American” policy on the books, requiring federally-funded infrastructure to use American-made materials. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act strengthened these requirements for the purchase of iron, steel, and manufactured goods used in stimulus-funded construction and maintenance projects. These same Buy American provisions should be applied to future stimulus projects to ensure our investments are jumpstarting the U.S. economy.1

Buy Clean

“Buy Clean” policies reduce the climate impact of infrastructure projects by giving preference to less carbon-intensive cement, steel, and other construction materials.2 They also help level the playing field for manufacturers that have invested in making their processes and supply chains cleaner. Congress should adopt a national Buy Clean policy that promotes clean domestic manufacturing and cuts emissions from federally-funded infrastructure projects.

Buy Fair

Federal infrastructure spending should prioritize contracts that will provide the most economic opportunities for workers. This “Buy Fair” approach gives an advantage to companies that agree to use project labor agreements (PLAs), hire local and disadvantaged workers, or use materials manufactured in unionized facilities.3 Federal funding should also come with Davis-Bacon prevailing wage standards to ensure the workers rebuilding our economy will be paid a fair wage.

Highways and Bridges

Prioritize maintenance of existing highway assets over new construction. This will create more jobs while making our transportation network safer and avoiding the buildout of unnecessary lane-miles, which leads to more vehicle-miles traveled and more emissions.4

Adopt a “Fix it First” policy requiring states to tackle a significant portion of their road and bridge maintenance backlog before they can construct new roads. This would apply to the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program and the National Highway Performance Program, while discretionary programs like BUILD and other formula programs like the Highway Safety Improvement Program would maintain their current requirements.5 Road and bridge repair projects create jobs and get money into the economy more quickly than new construction projects and create 16% more jobs per dollar.6

*The House Majority’s “Moving Forward Framework” includes a Fix it First policy prioritizing asset maintenance.7

Fully fund surface transportation maintenance needed to clear backlog. The percentage of roads in poor condition has grown from 14% to 20% over the past decade, and there are currently 47,000 structurally deficient bridges in the U.S. The road and bridge maintenance backlog is estimated to be nearly $591 billion, including $420 billion for roads and highways.8 Fully funding the maintenance backlog will make our network safer and create as many as 6 million jobs.9 This funding should have a 100% federal cost-share to alleviate the financial burden on cities and states that are struggling with reduced income and sales tax revenues.

Require states that want to build new lane-miles to demonstrate that they can afford to maintain the new infrastructure. This will prevent states from wasting stimulus dollars building something we don’t need that will fall into disrepair.10

Ensure state DOTs are equipped to spend the money quickly. Congress should provide direct grants to state DOTs facing capacity issues. This will ensure states can obligate infrastructure funding quickly to help the economy recover faster.


Increase funding for transit and allow agencies to use federal funds for operating costs. Increasing funding for transit vis-a-vis highway construction will create more jobs while reducing highway congestion and emissions. Expanding transit networks will also help connect low-income and minority communities to economic opportunities—people of color rely more on transit than white Americans do.11 We’ll also likely need to provide transit agencies with additional federal funding to help cover operating costs to ensure transit systems can continue running during and following the COVID-19 outbreak, enabling hospital workers and other essential employees to get to work.

Fully fund our transit maintenance backlog. USDOT estimates the transit maintenance backlog is $99 billion.12 Fully funding the backlog would create nearly 5 million jobs and generate tens of billions of dollars in economic returns over the next decade.13

Provide additional funding for new transit construction. Congress has only authorized $2.6 billion per year for the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Program, the primary source of federal funding for transit expansion projects, but there are far more projects going through the approval process than that amount could fund.14 Congress should provide $7.5 billion15 for the CIG program so that the projects that have already been approved or are likely to be approved within the next few years can move forward, creating construction jobs quickly. Additional oversight will be needed from Congress to ensure the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) improves its review process to rapidly get projects underway and workers on site.16

*The House Majority’s “Moving Forward Framework.” calls for increased funding for transit and reforms to the CIG program.17

Raise the federal cost-share for FTA grants. Just as it did in the Recovery Act, stimulus funding should have a 100% federal cost-share to alleviate the financial burden on cities and states that are struggling with reduced income and sales tax revenues. Going forward after stimulus funding, raising the federal share on transit projects to match the higher federal share for highway projects will help reorient federal spending towards mass transit while ensuring those projects can get funded more quickly.18

Provide hard-hit transit agencies with additional funds to defray the cost of operations. Stimulus 3 included $25 billion in assistance to keep transit agencies operating, but they will continue feeling budgetary pressure for the foreseeable future due to the drastic reduction in ridership.19 Congress should be prepared to provide additional operating assistance for transit agencies in future stimulus packages.

Help transit agencies procure zero-emission buses and charging infrastructure. Plussing-up the Low- and No-Emission Bus program will help more transit agencies procure electric and other zero-emission busses, in addition to the infrastructure necessary to keep them running. Adding $520 million to this program would be enough to double the number of electric buses on the road along with accompanying charging infrastructure.20

Freight and Passenger Rail

Modernize and Expand the Rail Network: Intercity passenger rail is far less carbon-intensive than driving or air travel, but U.S. investment in rail has lagged far behind other countries. While freight rail infrastructure is largely funded through private investment, targeted investments in freight rail and intermodal infrastructure will enable us to move more cargo by rail, which is far more fuel efficient than trucking. Rail projects also help create construction jobs in the near-term in addition to ongoing O&M jobs later.

Increase funding for federal programs that invest in rail capital projects, like the CRISI grant program and the freight-specific INFRA grant program.

  • CRISI should be improved to allow railroads to apply for and receive multi-year funding, enabling larger, longer-term capital investments.21
  • FRA should continue to make CRISI and other funding opportunities available for positive train control (PTC) implementation, making it easier particularly for smaller railroads to implement their systems and become interoperable with other railroads.
  • Congress should remove the INFRA program’s cap on non-highway projects. This limit has already been reached, so freight rail and intermodal projects can no longer receive funding.22

Provide funding for intermodal infrastructure. Either through a set-aside in the INFRA program or a new funding stream. This infrastructure catalyzes more freight movement by rail, thereby reducing truck traffic particularly around ports.

Permanently extend the 45G Short Line Tax Credit. This tax credit helps short line railroads privately invest in their infrastructure. While recently extended to 2022, permanent extension would provide the certainty needed by short line railroads to invest in costly, multi-year projects.23

Expand access to tax-exempt Private Activity Bonds (PABs) for higher-speed rail. Currently, intercity passenger rail projects must hit a maximum speed of 150mph in order to be eligible for these bonds; lowering the max speed to 125mph or even 100mph would make it easier for states to access this financing mechanism and construct “higher-speed” intercity rail. More broadly, Congress should consider raising the cap on PABs and expanding eligibility to allow for investment in a wider variety of clean infrastructure projects.24

Promote regional collaboration to support intercity passenger rail service. The federal government should incentivize the creation of interstate passenger rail compacts by providing operating funds to the established entity, as long as the states provide matching funds and demonstrate that they can maintain the rail service.25

Require Amtrak to maintain the existing system. Any stimulus funding for Amtrak should come with a stipulation that Amtrak cannot replace any part of its long-distance routes with bus service.26 Congress should also require Amtrak to develop a strategy for sustaining and growing the National Network.27

Resilient Transportation Infrastructure

Rebuild our transportation infrastructure to be more resilient to climate change, severe weather events, and other kinds of disasters. Severe weather events are increasing in frequency. The U.S. has failed to integrate resiliency into infrastructure planning, chronically underinvesting in projects that would help the system recover after a shock.

Establish a new funding stream to support projects that improve resiliency. Congress should establish a multi-billion dollar program to help fund projects that make our existing infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather. It should be a competitive grant program so applicants must demonstrate how they will spend the funding to improve resiliency.

*Included in the Senate’s America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act.28

Direct USDOT to develop resiliency criteria and factor it into funding decisions. This will ensure a more responsible use of taxpayer dollars by requiring projects that receive federal funding to include appropriate resiliency measures.

*Included in the House Majority’s “Moving Forward Framework”.29

Require lifecycle cost analysis for projects over $30 million. LCCA ensures agencies are taking the entire lifecycle of a facility into account when determining the most cost effective way to build a project, including what materials to use. This requirement would help ensure we’re rebuilding our infrastructure to last and save millions of dollars on repair and reconstruction costs.30

Reestablish federal flood protection standards and apply it to all infrastructure spending. This will allow us to fully account for the future impacts of climate change and severe weather while directing funding away from locations that are most vulnerable, like floodplains.31

Fund a comprehensive effort to assess the condition of our infrastructure from a resiliency standpoint. Beyond the immediate needs of the economic recovery, Congress should make funding available to help states get a holistic picture of their infrastructure resiliency needs. This will help determine which resiliency projects are most critical, how much funding is needed, and how to prioritize federal spending.

Alternative Vehicle Fueling

Build out the Refueling Infrastructure of Tomorrow. To enable our transition to ZEVs, we need to build out our electric vehicle charging infrastructure and other alternative refueling infrastructure. Some estimates project we will need roughly 350,000 public chargers by 202532 and 600,000 by 2030.33  On top of that, we will need millions of chargers installed at people’s homes and workplaces.

Issue funding to state and local governments to buildout alternative refueling infrastructure. Ensuring we have enough public EV chargers available to accommodate the rise of EVs will require an additional $2.3 billion through 2025,34 and roughly $5 billion through 2030. Congress should establish a new funding stream for state and local governments to deploy public alternative refueling infrastructure on highway corridors and within communities,35 or increase funding for an existing program such as the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Program specifically for EV infrastructure deployment.36

*The Senate’s America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act includes a new funding stream.37

Provide a refundable tax credit for businesses and homeowners to deploy charging infrastructure. The vast majority of EV chargers will be located at people’s homes or workplaces.38 Congress recently extended the alternative fuel refueling property credit (30C) through 2020; making the credit permanent would provide businesses and homeowners with certainty that they’ll be able to claim the credit when they install chargers in the future. Congress should also make the credit refundable for at least two years in order to better incentivize charger installation during the economic downturn and should change the credit cap to a per-charger basis, not per-charging station.39

Increase funding for the Alternative Fuels Corridors program. Boosting funding for this program will help more states develop their EV infrastructure deployment plans and address barriers to deployment, such as right-of-way acquisition, so they can move more quickly into construction.

Ports and Waterways

Unlock funding for port and waterway infrastructure. Sea port infrastructure projects create more jobs than almost any other kind of infrastructure project. Investments in our ports and waterways will create jobs and encourage mode shift away from fossil fuel-intensive trucking by making it faster and easier to ship products by barge. Additionally, investments in flood control infrastructure will help make communities more resilient to climate change and extreme weather.

Increase funding for the Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works program. Limited funding for Civil Works has led to a $98 billion backlog in Corps projects, from lock and dam modernization to flood control. Congress should increase funding for the Corps across the board but particularly prioritize the Construction account, so more projects that have gone through Investigation can begin construction in short order.

Increase the cost-share for inland waterway projects.Raising the federal cost share for inland waterways projects to 75% - the same as deep sea port projects - will help get these projects into construction faster, creating jobs and improving barge transportation for our nation’s freight.40

Allow the Army Corps of Engineers to spend down the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF). The Trust Fund has built up a $10 billion surplus due to low Congressional authorizations. While Stimulus 3 will allow the Corps to spend as much as the HMTF took in the previous year, it doesn’t address the $10 billion balance. Unlocking the HMTF will make more funding available for harbor dredging and other port projects.41


Increase access to broadband in underserved and rural communities. At a time when more and more Americans rely on an Internet connection for telehealth and virtual learning, too many communities are getting left behind. A lack of connectivity is disproportionately affecting rural African American and Native American communities.42 Building out our broadband infrastructure will help get more Americans online and plugged into the modern economy, while creating construction jobs.43

Establish a national “quick build” promise that uses time-limited “shot clocks” to tear down barriers to construction that currently exist at all levels of government, such as lengthy approval processes and utility pole access issues.44 Federal agencies should be required to publish fees on their websites with explanations for how those fees were calculated—and those fees should be used to hire the staff needed to cut down on application review times.45 The federal government should also encourage states and local governments to do the same.

Make $45 billion in federal funding available through a reverse auction to support broadband projects in hard-to-serve areas.46 The auction can be run through the Federal Communications Commission’s established process and should not discriminate between different providers or technologies—everyone and everything that could potentially serve communities lacking broadband should be able to participate. And to get the most out of these federal dollars, they should be awarded to broadband providers that will connect the most unserved homes for the lowest subsidy.47

Ensure broadband affordability by enabling automatic enrollment for low-income households eligible for the FCC’s Lifeline program.48 Changing the system so that these households receive an automatic notification on their eligibility would help ensure newly-connected communities can afford the Internet services made available to them. All low-income households eligible for Lifeline should also receive a voucher for a low-cost computer to finally end the digital divide.

Implement a “Dig Once” policy to increase access to broadband while reducing costs. Broadband conduit should be included during the construction or reconstruction of any road receiving federal funding if it isn’t already available. This will help reduce overall costs by limiting the number of times a road has to be dug up while making it easier for communities to access broadband.49 State and local transportation agencies should be encouraged to collaborate with the Internet Service Providers in their communities to minimize redundant digs.

Clean Water Infrastructure

Ensure every American has access to clean water and that our water systems operate as efficiently as possible. The public health crisis and need for frequent hand-washing has illuminated disparities in access to clean water, and this disproportionately affects minority and low-income communities.50 Our water delivery systems are aging, and the crumbling infrastructure is allowing pollutants to seep into local water supplies. We need to super-charge our investment in clean water systems to ensure everyone has access.

Boost federal assistance for states and communities to address their infrastructure and water quality challenges. EPA estimates that $271 billion will be needed for wastewater infrastructure over the next 25 years.51 Congress should provide $40 billion over the next five years to capitalize Clean Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs) to help state and local governments make critical infrastructure repairs and ensure everyone has access to clean water.

*Included in House Democrats’ Moving Forward Framework52

Improve our systems’ energy- and water-efficiency. Congress should require utilities to implement, where feasible, water- and energy-efficiency technologies to reduce waste. This should include projects that recapture and reuse energy produced from wastewater treatment such as methane recapture.

*Included in House Democrats’ Moving Forward Framework53

Set aside funding for green infrastructure. The Recovery Act required states’ Clean Water SRFs to use a portion of their federal funding for green infrastructure and environmentally innovative projects. Future stimulus packages should require states to utilize at least 15 percent of their SRF grants on water- or energy-efficiency projects or nature-based approaches to addressing water quality challenges.

*Included in House Democrats’ Moving Forward Framework54

Electrical Grid

Modernize our electrical system through robust transmission planning and competitive grants for enhancing transmission capacity, reliability, flexibility and climate resiliency of the grid. In order to address the challenges of climate change we need a 21st century grid that can rely solely on clean energy. This means making ambitious and consistent investments towards having a larger, smarter grid, and one that can withstand adverse impacts from climate change.

Provide up to $5 billion in annual grants over 10 years to state, local, and tribal governments for investing in high voltage transmission lines. High voltage transmission lines allow renewable energy to move across long distances, which will substantially cut carbon emissions while also saving consumers money. Federal policy should also facilitate interregional transmission through comprehensive transmission planning and appropriate use of federal authority (with the aim of eventually consolidating a national grid).

*The House’s CLEAN Future Act includes a smaller program.55

Establish a national policy for a robust national transmission grid. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in partnership with DOE and national labs and in consultation with appropriate private sector stakeholders, should develop a reliable, efficient, and resilient transmission infrastructure plan. FERC should also be directed to improve inter-regional planning such that the benefits between multiple regions can be assessed and realized; and planning processes between regions that neighbor one another are synchronized.

*The House’s CLEAN Future Act includes a similar provision.56

Provide at least an additional $500 million annually in grants managed by the DOE’s Grid Modernization Initiative for utilities, national labs, and other stakeholders with projects that showcase the economic benefits of grid modernization.57 These include storage, microgrids (including inter-municipal infrastructure microgrids), advanced metering infrastructure, energy data centers, and distribution-level investments like electric vehicle chargers. These technologies increase the flexibility of our grid and make it easier to integrate and ensure return on investments in clean technology.

For every $5 spent on grid expansion, allocate $1 in spending to a grid resiliency program with an advisory body to allocate resources to grid infrastructure most at risk from extreme weather events, as well as other potential risks like cyber-attacks.58 The advisory body should also attempt to target investments in underserved and marginalized communities. Studies show that every dollar spent ahead of time on measures to reduce risk to our grid and other at-risk infrastructure can save six dollars in future disaster costs.59

Efficient Buildings

Expand energy efficiency programs and increase funding for weatherization and retrofit incentives for buildings. Buildings currently account for 39 percent of US GHG emissions; reducing energy demand is low hanging fruit both for climate and energy consumers.

Provide $5 billion to the Department of Energy Weatherization Assistance Program. Low income households carry a larger burden for energy costs, typically spending 16% of their total income as compared to 3.5% for other households. Weatherization supports job creation and reduces energy bills for the most vulnerable populations.

*This is an expansion of provisions in the House’s CLEAN Future Act.60

Improve the Statutory Authority of WAP to Promote Flexibility, including increasing the average cost per unit, increasing allowable administrative costs, changing the date to begin reviewing previously weatherized lists, and doubling the cost cap for solar to incentivize solar training and building organization capacity for future solar installs while production is shut down.

*Included in the House’s CLEAN Future Act.61

Expand use of Energy Saving Performance Contracts (ESPC) by the federal government and by state and local municipalities. ESPC programs are an effective way to reduce energy use in federal buildings while improving efficiency and resiliency with energy savings leveraged to pay for the cost of the retrofit.62

Provide $500 million in grants to contractor businesses to help companies pay their contractors to undertake online training. “Home On-line Performance-based Energy-efficiency” (HOPE) provides stipend for contractors who complete the HOPE training to advance their careers and help homeowners save energy through home retrofits once contractors are allowed back in homes and buildings.

Provide $6 billion for incentives to retrofit residential buildings. Incentives for homeowners to invest in energy efficiency improvements through a multi-part rebate program to support states with a diversity of building stock, energy efficiency program expertise, and contractor workforce skills and help these states to advance the efficiency, health and safety of their homes.63


Address methane leakages through targeted monitoring and infrastructure investments. Several government agencies and NGOs have identified significant methane leakages in distribution pipelines. Leaks are most likely to occur in old pipelines made of cast iron and unprotected steel. In some cases methane leakages may be so drastic that they may negate the emissions gains of replacing coal power plants with natural gas power plants.64

Evaluate and promote new methane leakage technologies. Several new technologies that can accurately and efficiently detect methane leakages across natural gas supply chains are nearly ready for implementation. DOE should evaluate top innovators in the field and support pilot programs for improved methane leakage monitoring technology, including partnerships with industry, labs, and incubators.65

Increase the required frequency of leakage and repair inspections for company owned oil and gas facilities. Increasing the frequency to a quarterly rather than bi-annual basis would align federal scrutiny of methane leakages with states like California, Colorado and Wyoming, which already implement quarterly inspections for some oil and gas operations and have lower leakage rates than other oil & gas producing states, like Texas.66

Create a pipeline replacement program. The federal government could provide capital to start a revolving loan program that enables owners of natural gas distribution infrastructure to repair methane leaks.67 In addition to financing, grants could be provided to particularly vulnerable and under-resourced communities, as well as to incentivize installation of pipelines that can accommodate higher blends of hydrogen, which can help reduce the carbon footprint of the fuel system.68 According to a study by Stanford University, cities with successful pipeline replacement programs have 90% fewer leaks per mile than cities without such programs.69

Jumpstart the construction of a CO2 transport superhighway. In order to achieve 2050 climate goals, billions of tons of CO2 will need to be captured and permanently sequestered underground.70 With the right infrastructure investments, the U.S. can lower the cost of transport and storage, spur private investment, and develop lucrative new industries around carbon.71

  • Provide $500 million in low- and zero-interest loans to build large-volume, long-distance interstate CO2 trunk pipelines.72 As the federal highway system did for state and local roads, this “superhighway” would encourage construction of shorter, cheaper pipelines to move CO2 from multiple industrial facilities and power plants to geologic storage sites. The companies building the pipelines would repay their loans by charging fees for every ton of CO2 Federal support should be offered in regions of the country where this infrastructure does not exist.73
  • Designate CO2 pipelines as pollution control devices. This federal designation would exempt pipelines from ad valorem and property taxes in certain states, further incentivizing private investment.
  • Unlock natural infrastructure for CO2 storage sites. The U.S. has enormous permanent underground CO2 storage capacity in different regions of the country. The DOE’s CarbonSAFE Program is currently investigating storage in 13 states.74 Congress should appropriate $540 million to prepare multiple CarbonSAFE projects for commercial use. In addition, $50 million should be allocated to ensure that the EPA has the staff capabilities to expedite underground carbon storage permitting.


Invest in domestic clean energy manufacturing. Every direct job in manufacturing creates more than four additional jobs,75 and every dollar spent in the sector adds another $2.74 to the economy.76 Grants, credits, and procurement requirements benefiting US manufacturers will speed the development of clean energy technologies and materials, save energy, and support innovative businesses at home.

Renew tax incentives for investments in clean energy manufacturing facilities. Restoring the 48C investment tax credit would incentivize businesses to create or expand manufacturing facilities developing a range of clean energy technologies.77  The $2.3 billion offered for this competitive credit under the 2009 stimulus was oversubscribed by more than 3 to 1 and was projected to generate almost 60,000 jobs.78  These credits incentivize manufacturing that supports a wide variety of clean energy technologies, from wind and solar to nuclear and electric vehicles. At least $3 billion should be offered in new 48C credits in each of the next 5 tax years.79 Given the challenges expected in tax equity markets during economic recovery, credits allotted in the first two years should be refundable.

Develop a revolving loan fund to support manufacturers. The federal government should provide industrial loans for manufacturers to encourage the production of clean energy technologies or innovations that reduce emissions. The loans would be targeted to applicants who demonstrate that their projects will result in good-paying, domestic jobs.80

Reinstate matched funds for industrial efficiency projects. The Energy Department, through what is now the Advanced Manufacturing Office,81 has supported energy efficiency improvements for manufacturers through matched grants. For example, the ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor complex, North America’s largest steelmaking plant, received a $31.6 million matching grant under the 2009 stimulus to develop a 38-megawatt combined heat and power system to turn wasted gas into electricity.82

Provide federal contracts to the best actors in manufacturing. Recovery-targeted federal infrastructure procurements should follow “Buy Clean, Buy America” principles,83 prioritizing purchases from domestic manufacturers with strong labor standards and smaller carbon footprints.84



  1. “Buy American Provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.” National Conference on State Legislatures, 3 Apr. 2009, Accessed 1 May 2020.

    “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).” Government of Canada, Trade Commissioner Service, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  2. California became the first state to implement a “Buy Clean” policy in 2019, requiring state agencies to consider the embedded carbon emissions from materials like glass and steel when contracting for public infrastructure projects. For more information, see: “Clean Infrastructure, Buy Clean.” BlueGreen Alliance, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  3. “Buy Fair” is a relatively new approach to procurement that ensures infrastructure investments come with local economic benefits such as local hiring and training, engaging with underserved communities, and improving wages and safety. For more information, see: Jim Barrett, Jessica Eckdish, Zoe Lipman, Roxanne Johnson. “Making the Grade 2.0.” BlueGreen Alliance, 7 Sept. 2017, Page 27, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  4. These recommendations are available in greater detail in Third Way’s memo on surface transportation infrastructure investment for economic recovery. See: Alexander Laska. “Resilient and Ready for Recovery: Investing Smart in Surface Transportation.” Third Way, 7 Apr. 2020, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  5. House Democrats included a “Fix it First” policy in their January 2020 infrastructure framework, saying they would “revamp” the federal highway formula programs to prioritize maintaining and improving existing infrastructure. See: “Moving Forward Framework.” House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, 29 Jan. 2020, Page 3, Accessed 31 Mar. 2020.

  6. Arthur Nelson et al. “The Best Stimulus for the Money: Briefing Papers on the Economics of Transportation Spending.” Smart Growth America and the University of Utah, April 2009, Page 7, Accessed 6 May 2020.

  7. “Moving Forward Framework.” House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, 29 Jan. 2020, Page 3, Accessed 31 Mar. 2020.

  8. “2017 Infrastructure Report Card: Roads.” American Society of Civil Engineers, Jan. 2017, Page 77, Accessed 6 May 2020.

  9. The Economic Policy Institute found that, if combined with the right monetary policy, each $100 billion in infrastructure spending would boost job growth by roughly one million full-time equivalents. See: Bivens, Josh, “The Potential Macroeconomic Benefits from Increasing Infrastructure Investment.” Economic Policy Institute, 18 Jul. 2017. Accessed 27 Mar. 2020.

  10. This is supported by Transportation for America. See: “Repair Priorities.” Transportation for America and Taxpayers for Common Sense, May 2019, Page 24, Accessed 24 Mar. 2020.

  11. Monica Anderson. “Who relies on public transit in the U.S.” Fact Tank, Pew Research Center, 7 Apr. 2016, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  12. “Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges, and Transit.” U.S. Department of Transportation, 23rd Edition, 21 Nov. 2019, pages 8-24, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  13. Under a scenario of increased investment, every $1 billion invested in public transit could create as many as 49,700 jobs and generate economic returns of $5 billion over 20 years.  See: “Economic Impact of Public Transportation Investment.” American Public Transportation Association, 2020, Page 3, Accessed 5 May 2020.

  14. “Emergency Stabilization & Economic Recovery Recommendations.” Smart Growth America, April 2020, Page 6, Accessed 22 Apr. 2020.

  15. This includes $945 million for the 10 projects that have existing CIG agreements with the FTA, in addition to $5.31 billion for New Starts and Core Capacity projects that are in the engineering phase and $1.29 billion for Small Starts projects that are in the development phase and have an overall project rating of Medium or higher (the threshold for receiving CIG funding). For a list of these projects, see: “Annual Report on Funding Recommendations: Fiscal Year 2021 Capital Investment Grants Program and Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Program.” Federal Transit Administration, Feb. 2020, Accessed 4 May 2020.

  16. The Trump Administration has slow-walked CIG awards, doubling the average length of time it takes for a project to be approved. This has left communities on the hook for over $845 million in added costs from project delays and construction workers without the jobs they were expecting. Congress should require FTA to provide regular public reports on the status of all CIG projects, including the cause of any delays, and set deadlines for FTA to sign grant agreements after announcing allocations. Transportation for America has several recommendations for reforming the CIG program. See: “Make Public Transit a Priority.” Transportation For America, Pages 3-4, Accessed 21 Apr. 2020.

  17. Democrats and Republicans have recently begun to shine a light on this issue, and House Democrats included new transparency measures in their Moving Forward Framework. See: “New Committee Analysis of Capital Investment Grant Program Shows Project Approval Time More Than Doubled Under Trump Administration, Costing Transit Agencies Hundreds of Millions of Dollars.” House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, 16 Jul. 2019, Accessed 27 Apr. 2020.

  18. This is supported by Transportation for America. See: “Make Public Transit a Priority.” Transportation For America, Page 3, Accessed Apr. 21, 2020.

  19. TransitCenter has estimated that transit agencies could need $40 billion if the ridership decline lasts for 12 months. See: “Estimated Financial Impact of COVID-19 on U.S. Transit Agencies: $26-$40 Billion Annually.” TransitCenter, 20 Mar. 2020, Accessed 27 Apr. 2020.

  20. There are about 650 electric buses on the road today, or roughly 1% of total public buses currently in use. While estimates for EV buses vary, they seem to average out to about $750,000 per bus plus an additional $50,000 per charger. We are thus estimating that procuring one EV bus plus the necessary charging infrastructure would cost about $800,000 for the purposes of this paper.

  21. This is supported by Smart Growth America/Transportation for America. See: “Emergency Stabilization & Economic Recovery Recommendations.” Smart Growth America, April 2020, Page 7, Accessed. 22 Apr. 2020.

  22. This is supported by the American Short Line Railroad Association. See: “AAR, ASLRRA outline freight-rail industry's priorities for surface transportation reauthorization.” American Short Line Railroad Association, 9 Dec. 2019, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  23. This is supported by the American Short Line Railroad Association. See: “The Short Line Tax Credit (45G) – It’s Good Public Policy.” American Short Line Railroad Association, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  24. Lewis Milford et al. “Clean Energy Finance Through the Bond Market: A New Option for Progress.” Brookings-Rockefeller Project on State and Metropolitan Innovation, April 2014, Page 11, Accessed 5 May 2020.

  25. This is supported by Transportation for America. See: “RAIL: Maintaining & expanding the national passenger rail system.” Transportation for America, Page 2, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  26. Amtrak has threatened to replace some of its National Network rail service, including segments on its Chicago-LA line, with bus service. This proposal faced bipartisan opposition in Congress, which in late 2018 found funds for Amtrak to maintain the service at least through 2019. Joella Baumann. See: “Struggling Southwest Chief Amtrak Line Wins Another Reprieve.” CPRNews, 8 Oct. 2018, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  27. This is supported by Transportation for America. See: “RAIL: Maintaining & expanding the national passenger rail system.” Transportation for America, Page 5, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  28. The bipartisan Senate EPW surface transportation reauthorization bill establishes a new $5 billion program for highway resiliency projects. See: “America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act.” Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, July 2019, Accessed 30 Mar. 2020.

  29. The House Democrats’ Moving Forward Framework called for including resiliency as a decision-making factor in project selection. See: “Moving Forward Framework.” House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, 29 Jan. 2020, Page 3, Accessed 31 Mar. 2020.

  30. “Enhancing investment decisions with life cycle cost analysis.” Portland Cement Association, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  31. This is supported by the BlueGreen Alliance. See: “Investing in America’s Infrastructure to Create High-Quality Jobs and Protect the Environment.” BlueGreen Alliance, May 2019, Page 13, Accessed 30 Mar 2020.

  32. Adam Cooper and Kellen Schefter. “Plug-in Electric Vehicle Sales Forecast Through 2025 and the Charging Infrastructure Required.” Edison Foundation Institute for Electric Innovation and Edison Electric Institute. June 2017, Page 9, Accessed 28 Apr. 2020.

  33. “Enabling Infrastructure Sector Baseline.” Alliance 50x50 Commission on US Transportation Sector Efficiency, 26 Sep. 2018, Page 9, Accessed 28 Apr. 2020.

  34. Lia Cattaneo. “Investing in Charging Infrastructure for Plug-In Electric Vehicles.” Center for American Progress, 30 Jul. 2018, Accessed 30 Mar. 2020.

  35. Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) has introduced legislation to establish a grant program to deploy public EV and hydrogen refueling infrastructure, funded at $3 billion over 10 years. See: “Carper Introduces Legislation to Support Clean Energy Vehicles.” Press Release, 6 Mar. 2019, Accessed 30 Apr. 2020.

  36. While there are federal programs like the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) highway formula program and the DOE State Energy Program that states can use to fund charging infrastructure, states generally use those funds for other priorities. If funding for EV infrastructure is funneled through an existing program, Congress should make clear the money is intended only for alternative refueling infrastructure. See: Cassandra Powers. “Finding the Funds: Options for State Plug-In Electric Vehicle Programs.” Georgetown Climate Center, April 2015, Page 10, Accessed 30 March 2020.

  37. The Senate EPW surface reauthorization establishes a new competitive grant program for alternative fuel infrastructure deployment, funded at $1 billion over five years.  See: “America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act.” Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, July 2019, Accessed 30 Mar. 2020.

  38. Adam Cooper and Kellen Schefter. “Plug-in Electric Vehicle Sales Forecast Through 2025 and the Charging Infrastructure Required.” Edison Foundation Institute for Electric Innovation and Edison Electric Institute. June 2017, Page 9, Accessed 28 Apr. 2020.

  39. “Building the Foundation for 50x50.” Alliance 50x50 Commission on USE Transportation Sector Efficiency, 11 Jun. 2019, Page 8, Accessed 27 Apr. 2020.

  40. Currently, inland waterway projects can only get 50% of their funding from the General Fund, with the other 50% coming from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund which is funded through user fees. In contrast, deep water port projects can get 75% of their funding from the General Fund. This has made inland waterways projects, like modernizing the locks and dams on the Mississippi River, take much longer to get funded because an outsized portion of the costs have to be funded through user fees. This change is supported by the Waterways Council. See: “Frank McCormack. “Permanent Change Sought For IWTF Cost Share.” Waterways Journal Weekly, 14 Jun. 2019, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  41. This has long been championed by House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio. See: United States, Congress, House of Representatives. Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act., 116th Congress, 1st Session, H.R.2440.

  42. Kelsey Berkowitz and Jim Kessler. “The Racial Equality and Economic Opportunity Case for Expanding Broadband.” Third Way, 1 Feb. 2019, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  43. These recommendations come from Third Way’s “Broadband for All” proposal. See: “Policy Brief: Minimizing Excavation Through Coordination.” Federal Highway Administration, October 2013, Page 1, Accessed 2 Apr. 2020.

  44. Broadband providers face a host of different regulations and fees at the local, state, and federal level that can make even the quickest deployment projects take months. See: “One Touch Make Ready Fact Sheet.” Next Century Cities, 1 Feb. 2017, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  45. Kelsey Berkowitz and Gabe Horwitz. “Broadband for All: Connecting Everyone, Everywhere to the Digital Economy.” Third Way, 1 Feb. 2019, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  46. This figure is based on estimates of how much federal capital is needed to close the broadband gap, which range from $10 billion to $80 billion, but new data could give us a better sense of how much funding this effort will ultimately require. See for example “A Rural Broadband Strategy: Connecting Rural America to New Opportunities.” Microsoft Corporation. 10 Jul 2017. Accessed 7 Sept 2018.

  47. Kelsey Berkowitz and Jim Kessler. “The Racial Equality and Economic Opportunity Case for Expanding Broadband.” Third Way, 1 Feb. 2019, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  48. FCC’s Lifeline program promotes broadband adoption by providing discounts to eligible low-income households for wired or wireless phone service, and in 2016 the FCC expanded the program to include broadband. The Lifeline discount for eligible subscribers is currently $9.25 per month per household. In 2017, Lifeline provided $1.3 billion in subsidies to 11 million households. “Lifeline Participation.” Universal Service Administrative Company. Accessed 12 Oct 2018.

  49. According to FHWA, burying fiber optic cables and conduit underground is the largest cost element for deploying broadband, responsible for up to 90 percent of deployment cost when it requires major excavation of roadway. “Policy Brief: Minimizing Excavation Through Coordination.” Federal Highway Administration, October 2013, Page 1, Accessed 2 Apr. 2020.

  50. Frances Stead Sellers, “Americans are Told to Wash Hands to Fight Coronavirus. But Some Don’t Trust the Tap.” Washington Post, 5 May 2020, Accessed 5 May 2020.

  51. “2017 Infrastructure Report Card: Wastewater.” American Society of Civil Engineers, Jan. 2017, Page 2, Accessed 5 May 2020.

  52. “Moving Forward Framework.” House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, 29 Jan. 2020, Page 10, Accessed 31 Mar. 2020.

  53. “Moving Forward Framework.” House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, 29 Jan. 2020, Page 10, Accessed 31 Mar. 2020.

  54. “Moving Forward Framework.” House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, 29 Jan. 2020, Page 10, Accessed 31 Mar. 2020.

  55. The CLEAN Future Act (House E&C bill) authorizes $500M/year for 10 years for grants to improve grid resilience and reliability (transmission and distribution). See: United States, Congress, House of Representatives. Legislative Framework Discussion Draft. 8 Jan. 2020, Page 101, Accessed 1 May 2020.

    However, the investments needed to fully decarbonize the grid are much greater. According to an NREL study, in order to have a high share of renewables in the grid, about 70-80 billion is needed in transmission and distribution investments. See: Aaron Bloom. “Interconnections Seam Study.” National Renewable Energy Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, Jul. 2018, Accessed 1 May 2020.

    Alternatively, according to the American Civil Society of Civil Engineers, the funding gap for necessary grid upgrades is estimated to be $39 billion more than what will be paid for by 2025. See: “Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Economic Future.” American Society of Civil Engineers, 2016, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  56. Section 211 of the House CLEAN Future Act establishes the national policy statement and interregional planning. See: United States, Congress, House of Representatives. Legislative Framework Discussion Draft. 8 Jan. 2020, Section 211, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  57. States faced 14.9 billion in grid modernization funding requests in Q2 of 2019 alone. See: “The 50 States of Grid Modernization: U.S. Grid Modernization Activity Continues to Climb in the Second Quarter of 2019.” NC Clean Energy technology Center, North Carolina State University, 31 Jul. 2019, . Accessed 1 May 2020.

    Although states have taken the role of funding grid modernization efforts, Federal funding for promising demonstration programs can improve the economic case for grid modernization technology. The Grid Modernization Act of 2019 calls for 200 million, but funding needs are much greater. For instance, Dominion’s smart meter funding request in Virginia alone totaled 725 million, nearly 4 times as much as what the bill calls for. 500 million is a bare minimum. See: United States, Congress, Senate. Grid Modernization Act of 2019., 116th Congress, 1st Session, S.2332.

  58. All climate adaptation and environmental justice expenditures, including grid resiliency, suffers from underinvestment. Anchoring grid resiliency spending to other expenditures can ensure adequate levels of funding. Anchoring for adaptation/environmental justice spending tends to be in the 5-20% range.

  59. “Mitigation Saves: Utilities and Transportation Infrastructure Investments Can Provide Significant Returns.” National Institute of Building Sciences, 2019, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  60. Section 311 of CLEAN Future Act reauthorizes WAP with modifications at $350 million in FY 21 increasing to $1 billion in FY25. The increase to $5 billion recommended in this memo reflects the availability of worthwhile weatherization improvements and the need for economic stimulus in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

  61. United States, Congress, House of Representatives. Legislative Framework Discussion Draft. 8 Jan. 2020, Section 311, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  62. United States, Congress, House of Representatives. Legislative Framework Discussion Draft. 8 Jan. 2020, Section 341, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  63. The pandemic has resulted in residential energy efficiency programs shutting down – leaving small business contractors around the country without jobs and supply chains disrupted for the foreseeable future. HOPE4HOMES is a two-pronged approach to save our industry: first, the "Home Online Performance-Based Energy-Efficiency" (HOPE) Training would provide online workforce training for contractors designed to avoid layoffs (and encourage re-hires) during the pandemic. Then, once stay-at-home orders are lifted, the Home Owner Managing Savings (HOMES) Act energy retrofit rebate program would re-start the industry and associated supply chains, provide help to homeowners, and upgrade our residential building stock after the pandemic has run its course.

    Status: The HOMES Act legislation is included as Title III Subtitle D of the CLEAN Future Act Discussion Draft. House legislative counsel is working to finalize the HOPE program legislative language and will combine with the HOMES Act into one single bill. Contact: Lizzie Bunnen, Building Performance Association, (301) 717-2838, [email protected].

  64. According to this study by Carnegie Mellon researcher Costa Samaras, with a short global warming potential horizon, methane leakages as low as 4% can negate climate benefits of replacing coal. See: DeVynne Farquharson, Paulina Jaramillo, Greg Schivley, Kelly Klima, Derrick Carlson, Constantine Samaras. “Beyond Global Warming Potential: A Comparative Application of Climate Impact Metrics for the Life Cycle Assessment of Coal and Natural Gas Based Electricity.” Carnegie Mellon University, 24 Aug. 2016, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  65. Jonathan Mingle. “Methane Detectives: Can a Wave of New Technology Slash Natural Gas Leaks?” Yale Environment 360, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, 31 Oct. 2019, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  66. “New Data: Permian Oil & Gas Producers Releasing Methane at Three Times National Rate.” Environmental Defense Fund, 7 Apr. 2020, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  67. “Repairing America’s Aging Pipelines.” BlueGreen Alliance, 3 Aug. 2016, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  68. M. W. Melaina, O. Antonia, M. Penev. “Blending Hydrogen into Natural Gas Pipeline Networks: A Review of Key Issues.” National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, 2013, Accessed 1 May 2020.

  69. Morgan E. Gallagher, Adrian Down, Robert C. Ackley, Kaiguang Zhao, Nathan Phillips, Robert B. Jackson. “Natural Gas Pipeline Replacement Programs Reduce Methane Leaks and Improve Consumer Safety.” Environmental Science & Technology Letters, 2015, Accessed 24 Apr. 2020.

  70. “Technology Roadmap: Carbon Capture and Storage.” International Energy Agency, 1 Jul, 2013, Accessed 24 Apr. 2020.  Also: Dowell, Niall Mac et al, “The Role of CO2 Capture and Utilization in Mitigating Climate Change.” Nature, 5 Apr. 2017, Accessed 24 Apr. 2020.

  71. Depending on the region, the National Energy Technology Laboratory estimates pipeline transport and storage costs between $10 and $22 per ton of CO2. This eats up a significant portion of the 45Q tax credit, which currently allocates $50 per ton of CO2 captured and stored. See: Grant, Timothy et al, “Carbon Dioxide Transport and Storage Costs in NETL Studies.” National Energy Technology Laboratory, Nov. 2017, Accessed 24 Apr. 2020.

  72. The specifics of this policy recommendation can be explored further in the INVEST CO2 Act - H.R. 4905. United States, Congress, House of Representatives. Investing in Energy Systems for the Transport of CO2 Act of 2019., 116th Congress, 1st Session, H.R.4905.

  73. Approximately 4,500 miles of CO2 pipelines already exist in the U.S., mainly concentrated in Texas and a few western states. However, they are not large enough or close enough for most potential carbon capture projects to access them. See: Wallace, Matthew et al, “A Review of the CO2 Pipeline Infrastructure in the US.” National Energy Technology Laboratory, 21 Apr. 2015, Accessed 24 Apr. 2020.

  74. “CarbonSAFE.” National Energy Technology Laboratory, Accessed 5 May 2020.

  75. Craig Giffi et al. “Advanced Technologies Initiative, Manufacturing & Innovation.” Deloitte, 2015, Page 9, Accessed 24 Apr. 2020.

  76. “Facts About Manufacturing.” National Association of Manufacturers, Accessed 5 May 2020.

  77. I.R.C. § 48C. Accessed 5 May 2020.

  78. “Fact Sheet: 2.3 Billion in New Clean Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits.” Press Release, Obama White House Archives, 8 Jan. 2010, Accessed 5 May 2020.

  79. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) proposed a reinstatement of the tax credit at $2.5 billion in each of the next five tax years. Offering $3 billion in 48C credits in each of these years reflects the increased need for economic stimulus, and will support up to $10 billion in total project costs. See: United States, Congress, House of Representatives. Innovative Energy Manufacturing Act of 2019., 116th Congress, 1st Session, H.R. 5165. Accessed 5 May 2020.

  80. “COVID-19 Federal Response & Economic Stimulus – BlueGreen Alliance Legislative Priorities.” BlueGreen Alliance, Apr. 2020, Accessed 24 Apr. 2020.

  81. This program was conducted first by the DOE Industrial Technologies Program, which was rebranded into the Advanced Manufacturing Office. See: “Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Incentives: A Summary of Federal Programs.” Congressional Research Service, Revised Nov. 15, 2019, Accessed 24 Apr. 2020.

  82. Vignesh Gowrishankar et al. “Combined Heat and Power Systems: Plants, Buildints, and Other Facilities.” Natural Resources Defense Council, Apr. 2013, Page 14, Accessed Apr. 24, 2020.

  83. Josh Freed and Matt Bright. “Appealing to Battleground States with Policies for clean Manufacturing and Industry.” Third Way, Apr. 20, 2020, Accessed May 5, 2020.

  84. Jason Walsh. “Testimony on Building a 100 Percent Clean Energy Economy: Pathways to Net Zero Industrial Emissions.” U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on the Environment and Climate Change, 18 Sep. 2019, Accessed May 5, 2020.


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