Our nation’s infrastructure is falling apart. Climate change, the aging of the baby boomers, lack of repair, and the movement to our nation’s cities are all putting different strains on our infrastructure, which have for too long been neglected.
Blumenauer is a leader in Congress for a national plan that will revitalize America’s communities, economy, and infrastructure, allowing America to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
We need a strong commitment to our nation’s rail infrastructure; both in the creation of a high speed rail network and for continued support of freight rail. Each offers an alternative option from clogging our nation’s congested highways, while often moving goods more cheaply and with fewer environmental impacts.
We need to fully embrace transportation options like walking and cycling that reduce our impact on the environment, improve health, and pump money into the local economy. In Portland alone, the bicycle industry –including bicycle, apparel, and accessory manufacturers and retailers, tourism, businesses , and events – employs over 850 people and contributes $90 million a year to the region’s economy.
We need to continually support the “Small Starts” program, a transportation and community revitalization tool that matches local funds to provide capital and start up costs for streetcar development and expansion. The program is aimed at smaller projects rather than traditional light rail projects and emphasizes economic redevelopment.
We need increased investment in wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. 72,000 miles of sewer and water pipe in America are over 80 years old. Federal contributions to clean water spending shrank from 78% of total spending in 1978 to 3% today. Blumenauer has proposed draft legislation to create a Water Trust Fund in an effort to provide revenue to states to support the replacement, repair, and rehabilitation of clean and drinking water infrastructure.
We need to encourage a renewable electricity standard that requires utilities generate a portion of their energy from renewable sources like wind and solar. A combination of regulations, tax incentives, and investment in research and development for cleaner energy can stimulate the market and help make financing renewable energy competitive with fossil fuels.
We need to reinstate the Superfund. It is time to make public health, not protection for polluters, a priority. With the reinstatement of the Superfund tax, the stable funds generated would ensure that cleanup efforts at large sites can be properly maintained, and the EPA would have more power to recover costs from liable parties in cleanups.
We need to continue our country’s commitment to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. The federal government can and should be a partner in this effort, through a variety of ways, including investing in transportation alternatives, providing incentives for affordable housing choices and better community design, and funding innovative pilot programs that add community value while reducing greenhouse gases.