Infrastructure Update: September 10, 2021

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • At the end of last week, the House of Representatives began committee markups for the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package and continued into this week. The Ways & Means and Education & Labor Committees held the most high-profile markups. Ways & Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) released a portion of the reconciliation plans, largely focused on new spending initiatives including renewable energy tax credits, paid leave, and extension of child tax credits. The committee is still working out details regarding tax proposals, which the House and Senate are aiming to pre-conference to expedite the process. The Education and Labor Committee is considering legislation that could add civil monetary penalties for mental health parity violations. 
  • Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) continues to rankle members of his own party voicing concerns over the $3.5 trillion price tag both publicly and privately. The number that Manchin has in mind may be closer to $1.5 trillion. However, the White House and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) do not seem willing to hit the pause button to get Manchin on board with the current number. White House aides believe that Manchin can be persuaded, and Schumer brushed off Manchin’s request for a pause and said the process is moving forward. 
  • However, Democrat leadership has not completely shut the door on lowering the price tag of the budget resolution. Senate Majority Leader Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Wednesday did not reject the possibility to shrink the bill, as both recognize the fractures in their party between moderates and progressives. With a split Senate and a slim House majority, neither leader has much wiggle room, and their moderate members are raising concerns about the price tag as well. 
  • Speaker Pelosi still has a two-part problem with the moderates in her caucus. Reps. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) have laid out “overarching principles” that the reconciliation bill and its drafting process must meet for their support. They have asked Pelosi to have the bill be “pre-conferenced” with the Senate to avoid major changes, and that the bill be paid for, with the exception of its climate provisions, and for members to be given at least 72 hours to review the legislation before it comes to the House floor. In the Ways and Means Committee markup on Thursday, September 9, Rep. Murphy voted no on all titles of the package because she said she wanted to see the comprehensive package before voting to approve it. This is on top of the group of 10 moderates being promised that the BID will be voted on by September 27. The moderates continue to add pressure on Pelosi, and it is uncertain what she will deliver. Lastly, Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) has threatened, “No SALT, no deal.” 

IN THE NEWS

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION NEWS

Biden infrastructure bill could give a jolt to EV charging (Houston Chronicle 9/9)

  • “The Biden administration is seeking to address the lack of public EV chargers in its $1 trillion infrastructure spending bill making its way through Congress. Biden, who ran for president promising to tackle climate change, is proposing to spend $7.5 billion to expand the nation’s EV charging network, particularly in low-income and rural areas. If passed, the bill would bring this country’s first major investment aimed at EV infrastructure and put a charge in an industry key to the energy transition.”

Biden officials trumpet how solar can provide nearly half of the nation’s electricity by 2050 (Washington Post 9/8)

  • “The Biden administration announced a blueprint Wednesday outlining how solar energy could produce nearly half of the nation’s electricity by mid-century, part of its ambitious bid to address climate change. The new Energy Department analysis shows how the United States can scale up production of solar panels, which now provide 3 percent of the nation’s electricity, to 45 percent over the next three decades.”

U.S. out of time on climate, Biden says after Hurricane Ida (Reuters 9/7)

  • “President Joe Biden highlighted the ravages of climate change during a visit to flood-damaged New Jersey on Tuesday, putting a focus on domestic priorities after weeks of public attention on the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.”

Biden Aide Sees Manchin Open to Persuasion on $3.5 Trillion Bill (Bloomberg 9/5)

  • “A senior White House adviser expressed confidence that a key Democratic senator who raised objections to President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion tax and spending package can eventually be persuaded to give his backing.”

Biden urges Congress to pass his economic plans after weak jobs report: ‘Our country needs these investments’ (CNBC 9/3)

  • “President Joe Biden on Friday urged Congress to pass his more than $4 trillion economic agenda in order to boost sluggish job growth. The president made his case for spending on infrastructure, climate policy and the social safety net after the Labor Department said the country added 235,000 jobs in August. The figure fell well short of the 720,000 jobs economists had expected.”

CONGRESSIONAL NEWS 

Does Joe Manchin have an infrastructure price tag in mind? (MSNBC 9/8)

  • “The White House and Democratic congressional leaders are broadly in agreement on a massive domestic investment package, totaling $3.5 trillion to be spent over the course of 10 years. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, meanwhile, has explicitly said he will not support an investment that large. The result has been a clumsy guessing game: Would Manchin vote for a $3.4 trillion package? How about a $3.3 trillion bill? Evidently, the conservative Democrat is aiming lower – much lower.”

McConnell ‘Gives’ Manchin and Sinema ‘Lots of Love’ for Infrastructure Bill Opposition (Newsweek 9/8)

  • “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has praised Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona for opposing their party’s $3.5 trillion spending proposal. 

Democrats plan to pass the massive bill using the Senate’s budget reconciliation process, which could allow the legislation to become law without any Republican votes. However, every Democratic senator would need to vote for the bill due to the upper chamber being evenly split along party lines. Manchin has called for placing a ‘strategic pause’ on the proposal, while Sinema has also said that she will not support the bill due to its high price tag.”

Schumer says Democrats moving “full speed ahead” on $3.5 trillion spending package (CBS 9/8)

  • “Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday the Senate is moving ‘full speed ahead’ on a sweeping $3.5 trillion spending package, rejecting a suggestion from Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, whose support for the plan is crucial, that Congress take a ‘strategic pause’ on the legislation.”

Schumer rejects Manchin’s ‘strategic pause’ on $3.5T bill (Politico 9/8)

  • “Chuck Schumer is brushing off Joe Manchin’s call for a ‘strategic pause’ on Democrats’ spending agenda, vowing that the party will not slow its pursuit of a $3.5 trillion bill tackling climate change, tax policy and beefing up social programs.”

Biden Needs a Win on Infrastructure (WSJ 9/7)

  • “August was a month of disasters for Joe Biden. September will be a month of decisions—big ones—about his domestic policy agenda. The president faces his fall challenges with a weakened hand. As recently as May 25, his job approval stood at nearly 55%. Now, according to the two best-known poll averages, it has fallen by nine percentage points to 46%. Independents are turning against Mr. Biden.”

GOP pressure to block bipartisan infrastructure bill builds in the House (CNN 9/7)

  • “House Republicans could face increased pressure to vote against a bipartisan infrastructure package when they return to Washington later this month with outside groups and conservatives already ramping up the campaign against a $1.2 trillion package they say would be akin to writing Democrats a blank check to restructure the social safety net. The dynamic in the House is far different than the one in the Senate just last month when 19 Republicans — including the Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — voted to pass legislation that enables the rebuilding of America’s roads and bridges, bolsters the nation’s broadband network and gives Republicans and Democrats alike a rare opportunity to point to a bipartisan accomplishment on the campaign trail next fall.”

POLITICO Playbook PM: Biden’s climate/infrastructure challenge (Politico 9/7)

  • “President JOE BIDEN is putting climate change and his infrastructure agenda front and center today as he journeys to New Jersey and New York to survey Ida’s devastating damage across several communities. It’s a moment that lays bare both the power and the pitfalls of Biden’s approach to this global existential threat. First, the power: This summer, nearly a third of Americans suffered an extreme weather event fueled by climate change — massive fires in California, flooding throughout the Midwest and Northeast, supercharged hurricanes on the Gulf Coast and so on.”

September is set to be a defining month for Biden, congressional Democrats (NBC 9/8)

  • “After a rough August for President Biden and his party, September — as well as the rest of the fall — will answer some important questions on Biden’s legislative agenda, the Covid situation and the Democrats’ political outlook heading into the 2022 midterms. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and the left want it at $3.5 trillion, while Axios is reporting that Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., isn’t going to budge above $1.5 trillion. The price-tag answer will determine how ambitious the package will be, as well as the size of the tax increases to pay for it.”

Biden Calls Ida Flooding in New York a Warning of Climate Change (Bloomberg 9/7)

  • “President Joe Biden warned that storm-ravaged New York and New Jersey are signs of worsening climate change, redoubling his push for a $550 billion public works bill that he said would help build more resilient communities.”

Biden urges Congress to pass his economic plans after weak jobs report: ‘Our country needs these investments’ (CNBC 9/3)

  • “President Joe Biden on Friday urged Congress to pass his more than $4 trillion economic agenda in order to boost sluggish job growth. The president made his case for spending on infrastructure, climate policy and the social safety net after the Labor Department said the country added 235,000 jobs in August. The figure fell well short of the 720,000 jobs economists had expected.”

House moderates send demands on $3.5 trillion budget bill to Pelosi (NBC 9/3)

  • “Moderate House Democrats drew a new set of lines in the sand Friday on a $3.5 trillion budget bill that is the centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda. ‘In order to obtain our support,’ Reps. Stephanie Murphy of Florida and Henry Cuellar of Texas wrote to Speaker Nancy Pelosi on behalf of a larger set of moderates, the budget ‘reconciliation’ bill ‘must adhere’ to ‘three overarching principles.’”

Hurricane Ida, Wildfires Prod Congress on Infrastructure Resiliency (WSJ 9/3)

  • “HURRICANE IDA AND WESTERN WILDFIRES are putting pressure on lawmakers to approve funds for infrastructure resiliency projects. While business groups and Republican senators who supported the bipartisan infrastructure deal, which includes $50 billion for resiliency projects and another $65 billion to harden the electrical grid, push for its swift passage, dozens of House Democrats are pressing leadership to include more resiliency programs in the separate Democrats-only budget reconciliation package.”

Dems prepare to fight their own over $3.5T Megabill (Politico 9/3)

  • “This fall marks progressives’ biggest chance in years to advance their top political priorities. And their off-the-Hill allies are gearing up for an intraparty showdown. Top Democrats are pushing to resolve lingering House-Senate disputes and have the text of their massive social spending plan ready by Sept. 15 before passing that entire bill on party lines by Sept. 27.”

After a Summer of Disasters, Some Lawmakers See a Chance for Climate Action (NYT 9/3)

  • “As the country reels from the cascade of deaths and devastation wrought by this summer’s record floods, heat waves, droughts and wildfires, President Biden and progressive Democrats are using the moment to push for aggressive climate provisions in a sweeping $3.5 trillion budget bill.”

Intraparty squabble casts shadow over Democrats’ fiscal agenda (Roll Call 9/7)

  • “House Democrats secured a temporary truce last month in their internal dispute over economic priorities, but the solution to their standoff all but guarantees another clash by the end of September. The disagreement between the party’s moderate and progressive wings is ostensibly over the sequencing of two big bills that make up the bulk of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda. A Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill would provide $550 billion in new spending on roads, bridges, transit, broadband and water projects, and a mostly unwritten partisan budget reconciliation package could add another $3.5 trillion on ‘human’ infrastructure, including subsidies for child care, education, paid leave, health care, clean energy programs and more.”

Democrats Hit the Road to Sell Big Spending Bills as Republicans Attack (NYT 9/7)

  • “Standing alongside Clear Creek, a popular white-water rafting destination in this gateway to the Rocky Mountains west of Denver, Senator Michael Bennet delivered his pitch for $60 billion in new spending to protect the state’s forests and watersheds against recurring fires and their widespread impact.”

Infrastructure crunch time approaching (Politico 9/7)

  • “The first thing to know as you start this short week: Sept. 15 is rapidly approaching. That’s the deadline set by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for committees to finish their work on the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that’s being put forward as a follow-up to the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the Senate last month.”

PAY-FORS

Secretary Raimondo urges business to back social infrastructure plans (Axios 9/9)

  • “Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, speaking virtually Thursday to the City Club of Cleveland, will appeal to business to back President Biden’s social-infrastructure plans as ‘a competitive advantage’ for America. ‘I get it. We’re asking you to pay more in taxes,’ Raimondo, who has met with more than 100 CEOs since joining the Cabinet, says in remarks shared first with Axios. ‘But I’d also suggest that if the business community doesn’t like the pay-fors we’ve proposed, it’s time to come up with some real alternatives that don’t raise taxes on middle class families.’ Raimondo, former Rhode Island governor, promises this payoff: ‘A more stable democracy and a more sustainable capitalist system.’”

Battle Over Tax Hikes, Spending Bill Is Heating Up (Think Advisor 9/8)

  • “While Sen. Joe Manchin’s call on Sept. 2 for lawmakers to ‘pause’ the budget reconciliation process likely won’t delay its passage, the West Virginia senator and other Democrats will demand a reconciliation bill that includes pared-down tax measures — setting up weeks of debate. Greg Valliere, chief U.S. strategist for AGF Investments, told ThinkAdvisor Wednesday in an email that, for instance, the top corporate rate ‘won’t be 28%,’ and the capital gains rate ‘will not be set at ordinary income.’ President Joe Biden’s tax proposal to eliminate the ‘stepped-up basis’ on property transferred at death, however, ‘will stay,’ Valliere said. House Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., promised during a press conference Wednesday, however, ‘let me be clear: the [budget] legislation that Democrats are working on will be the largest tax cut for the middle class in a generation.’ The bill will be paid for, Schumer continued, by asking the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share in taxes. Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said Tuesday in a statement that ‘in order to meet the President’s goal of fully paying for his legislative priorities, it is important lawmakers not take reasonable pay-fors off the table. Rather, they should work to find more offsets and scale back the reconciliation package as necessary to avoid adding to the already high national debt.’”

The Democrats’ push for a huge tax-and-spend measure — which somehow feels both part slog and part sprint (Politico 9/7)

  • “The House Ways and Means Committee is slated to kick off its consideration of its part of that package in just over 48 hours. And what do we know about what Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) is going to put forward, as Democrats try to cobble together a measure with up to $3.5 trillion in benefits and pass it via budget reconciliation? Well, not much actually. A tale of two chairs: But if nothing else, that’s by design. Neal is purposefully keeping where he wants to go close to the vest, which is just one of the ways that he is approaching this reconciliation process differently than Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), as Pro Tax’s Brian Faler noted this morning. Just on Friday, about five pages’ worth of Wyden’s potential revenue-raisers leaked out, as Brian reported — dealing with everything from cracking down on so-called syndicated conservation easements to an excise tax on stock buybacks and virgin plastics, and from a mark-to-market system for the very wealthy to hitting large retirement accounts. But Wyden likes to be on the front foot when talking about taxes, arguing essentially that it’s the 21st century and Democrats don’t have to fear the repercussions from tax hikes anymore.”

Another Biden Pay-For Comes up Short (National Review 9/2)

  • “The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) today published its revenue estimate for President Biden’s proposed increase in IRS funding to close the tax gap, which is the difference in the amount taxpayers owe compared with what the IRS actually collects. The CBO estimates that an $80 billion increase in IRS funding would raise an extra $200 billion over the next ten years, so it would increase revenue by $120 billion on net. That’s nowhere near what Democrats wanted. Back in May, the Treasury Department said $80 billion in extra IRS budget would raise $700 billion over the next ten years. Some Democratic members of Congress were hoping for $1 trillion in extra revenue from better enforcement, the Washington Post reported in July. This is not the first time the Biden administration’s pay-fors have come up short. The CBO also poured cold water on their rosy projections for the bipartisan infrastructure bill. There are parts of Democrats’ enforcement plans that the CBO did not score related to reporting requirements, but including those changes still wouldn’t get anywhere near $700 billion or $1 trillion in extra revenue over ten years.”

STATE & LOCAL NEWS

Fed’s cash helps county set priorities (Silver City Daily Press 9/8)

  • “The $1.7 million worth of projects selected leaves roughly $1 million in already-received federal rescue dollars unallocated, and with the county due to receive a second payment of roughly $2.6 million in rescue funds next year, there’s still a lot of federal money that the county will have to figure out how to spend, in accordance with strict guidelines. Infrastructure projects, like water and sewer system improvements, and bolstering sectors, services, organizations, businesses and employees hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic are among the permitted uses for the ARPA money, which experts have recommended be spent on projects that don’t otherwise qualify for other grants and funding sources. The federal government is encouraging community members to participate in the local process of allocating rescue plan dollars.” 

Tennessee approves $65M incentive for Oracle’s Nashville project (Johnson City Press 9/8)

  • “The Tennessee Comptroller State Funding Board has approved $65 million in FastTrack grants for Oracle’s new Nashville campus. The incentive was said to have been offered to offset expenses in land acquisition and new construction for the technology company’s new campus. In turn, Oracle has agreed to create 5,989 net new jobs and spend $1.35 billion on the project within the next five years. Oracle said it would be hiring at an average of $54.92 an hour for the new jobs. That’s an average salary of $114,000 a year. FastTrack grants are state grants sent to local governments for specific infrastructure improvements or to companies to help offset the costs of expanding or moving into the state with the goal of increasing the number of full-time jobs and the average wages of jobs available in an area. … The agreement included an investment of $175 million in public infrastructure that included a pedestrian bridge over the Cumberland River, a sewer pump, brownfield remediation and a waterfront park.”

Council discusses how to spend fiscal recovery funds (Mesquite Recovery Funds 9/8)

  • “The Mesquite City Council held a special meeting and work session on Tuesday, Sept. 7, to listen to a staff presentation regarding spending of $26 million earmarked toward fiscal recovery. The council voted 5-0 to accept the proposal. The fiscal recovery funds can be designated for four categories of eligible use: public health and economic impacts; premium pay; revenue loss; and investments in infrastructure. Mesquite’s overall total funding is $26,501.498.44, divided into fundings of $13,250,749.22 in each of two years. All funds must be obligated by Dec. 31, 2024 and must be spent by Dec. 31, 2026.”

Oklahoma budget leaders outline spending plans for funds (Tulsa World 9/8)

  • “House and Senate budget leaders met Wednesday to outline plans for spending billions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief funds. Oklahoma is receiving $1.87 billion over the next two years, while another $1.32 billion will flow to cities, counties and towns across the state, said Jeff Bankowski, a partner with Guidehouse, an independent consultant hired by the state to help guide state spending. … Bankowski told lawmakers there are five eligible uses for the funds: public health support; responding to negative economic impacts; premium pay for essential workers; revenue loss as a result of COVID-19; and investments in infrastructure, including water, sewer and broadband.” 

City unveils proposal to repair streets (The Miami County Republic 9/8)

  • “City Manager Mike Scanlon and the Osawatomie City Council are going all in on city streets, and it’s a move they hope residents will get behind. The council passed two resolutions at its Aug. 26 meeting that are both focused on dedicated revenues for street repairs, replacement, and maintenance. The first resolution would increase the general fund in the proposed 2022 city budget from the revenue neutral rate of 27.669 mills to 44.433 mills. The increase in mill rate would generate $450,000 annually that would be dedicated to street repairs, replacement and maintenance, according to the city. The second resolution will place a question on the November ballot for Oswatomie voters to consider a special retailers’ sales tax of one-half of 1 percent (0.5 percent) to take effect Jan. 1, 2022. The sales tax increase would generate an estimated $125,000 annually to put toward street repairs.”

Spending federal COVID aid proves tricky in Kansas (The Kansas City Star 9/8)

  • “Kansas is moving slowly to spend the latest round of COVID-19 aid, and one town turned down its share because city officials decided it’s not needed. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that while most state and local governments across the country saw the influx of money as an opportunity to shore up infrastructure, fight the COVID-19 pandemic and help local businesses, the 2,300-person town of Lakin turned down the $300,000 it was due to receive.” 

New Mexico plots greater spending, from tuition to Medicaid (La Cruces Sun News 9/8)

  • “An expansion of non-merit scholarships to college and greater spending to safeguard abandoned oil wells in New Mexico are among the governor’s new spending priorities, amid a windfall in state income linked to federal pandemic relief and petroleum production. … The Human Services Department is suggesting a $100 million spending increase on Medicaid and related mental health services alone, for total annual general fund spending of $1.26 billion on the program. State income for the coming fiscal year is expected to outpace routine annual spending obligations by $1.4 billion, or 19% of annual general fund spending obligations. That leaves lawmakers more money than ever before to spend on education, roads, public safety and other government programs.” 

American Rescue funds couldn’t come at better time for Garfield County (Post Independent 9/7)

  • “Federal funds aimed at helping local governments recover from the negative economic impacts caused by the pandemic are also providing a bridge for Garfield County to weather the regional downturn in the oil and gas industry. Garfield County commissioners decided Tuesday to defer $5 million of the $5.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars received by the county this year to help balance the 2022 budget.” 

DeSoto County Board of Supervisors approve spending plan, giving green light to infrastructure, public safety improvements (Local 24 9/7)

  • “In the fast-growing DeSoto County, Mississippi, new projects are on the way, after the board of supervisors Tuesday morning approved the county’s spending plan for the next year. One of the big-ticket items includes improvements on a three-mile stretch of Holly Springs Road in Hernando. … Crews closed a portion of Holly Springs Road nine times since 2019 alone. The approved budget will pay for the road to be elevated 10 feet in the three miles between Johnston and Smith Road, with five replacement bridges.”

Phase 2 of Akins Boulevard Extension on city agenda for $5.3M state funding (Statesboro Herald 9/6)

  • “Meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Statesboro’s mayor and council could approve an agreement with Georgia Southern University for Phase 2 of the extension of Akins Boulevard toward the university’s south campus, contingent on $5.3 million in state funding for the project. … Other than final approval of the city property tax millage rate – expected to be a formality at this point – the second-phase Akins Boulevard Extension is the biggest dollar-value item on the agenda. But officials say the construction should not cost the city anything, since the Georgia Department of Transportation is providing the $5.3 million, with the university agreeing to cover any additional costs.” 

Highway 412 not getting fair share of funds (Baxter Bulletin 9/4)

  • “The construction of a four-lane highway across North Central Arkansas hasn’t been receiving its fair share of state highway funding, says Richard Sheid, a member of the North Arkansas East/West Corridor Association (NAEWCA). … He also referenced a highway department spending report for 2021-2024 showing it plans to spend $136.8 million on Highway 82 and only $110 million along Highway 412. All of the relevant demographics support spending more on developing 412 and less along 82, Sheid said. The Highway 412 corridor directly affects the economies of 11 counties versus six for Highway 82. Highway 412 has 121 more miles than Highway 82. The population along Highway 412 has increased by approximately 87,000 residents from 2010 to 2020 while the Highway 82 corridor counties have experienced a decrease of approximately 8,000 residents during the same period.” 

Maine towns are banding together to coordinate their spending of millions (Bangor Daily News 9/4) 

  • “Maine communities are mostly still unsure what they’ll do with an influx of tens of millions of federal dollars from the latest congressional COVID-19 relief package. But leaders from about three dozen communities across the state have teamed up to coordinate their spending so they can use their individual awards to make larger, more enduring investments. … The funding amounts dwarf what local governments in Maine have seen before from the federal government. Maine’s nearly 500 towns and cities are slated to receive nearly $241 million total, according to the National League of Cities. Some $370 million is headed to local school districts, and Maine’s 16 county governments are slated to receive $260 million. For a number of Maine counties, their American Rescue Plan windfalls are larger than their annual operating budgets.” 

State agencies make pitches for spending billions in Tennessee ARPA money (The Exchange 9/3)

  • “Tennessee’s Financial Stimulus Accountability Group met with state agency heads this week regarding funding requests related to the second half of $3.7 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act relief. The group met with 17 departments over two days to hear funding requests for the $1.875 billion in what the committee is calling the Tennessee Resiliency Plan, which will cover local government technical support, health capital projects, public health and economic relief.” 

How New Orleans’ infrastructure held up to Hurricane Ida (Quartz 9/3)

  • “On the morning of Aug. 30, residents of southeastern Louisiana awoke to assess the damage wrought by Hurricane Ida that roared ashore the previous night. Streets were flooded, utility poles leaned precipitously, and entire buildings sat in piles of rubble, felled by 150 mile per hour winds. But the city’s extensive flood protection measures withstood the storm. A $14.5 billion storm protection system, built by the US Army Corps of Engineers after the city’s levees catastrophically failed in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina, includes taller levees, seawalls, floodgates, pumps and drainage. The new system, designed to withstand an intense storm like Ida, survived. … The success of New Orleans’ storm protection system was undercut by the failure of its central electricity grid, which poses a lasting threat as the city deals with sweltering heat.  It underscores the fact single-purpose infrastructure projects like storm barriers no longer make the cut. As storms and fires grow stronger in a warming world, so must the entire of infrastructure, including roads, power, buildings, and people need to be made resilient enough to withstand disasters.”

Governor Hochul announces $53 Million for clean water systems and drinking water infrastructure projects statewide (New York State Governor 9/3)

  • “Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation has approved more than $53 million to help nine municipalities finance their drinking water and wastewater projects. The grants, interest-free financings and low-cost financings approved by the EFC Board of Directors help provide innovative solutions for critical infrastructure projects across the state that protect or improve water quality. Of the project financings announced today, over $20 million will be allocated to plan, design and construct a regional wastewater treatment plant for the villages of Watkins Glen and Montour Falls in Schuyler County.”

Connecticut infrastructure, overwhelmed by Ida, wasn’t designed for increasingly intense storms, officials say on tour of damage (Hartford Courant 9/3)

  • “At the site of a washed-out railroad bank in Redding Friday, Gov. Ned Lamont and other state officials said building resilience against drenching storms like Hurricane Ida is a priority, but the long-term outlook is bleak without action on climate change. … But such storms are expected to become more frequent, and infrastructure such as railroad embankments, roads and culverts will have to be built to new standards, said Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe Giulietti, who was out with the governor in Redding. Federal funding the state expects to receive, Giulietti said, include $5 billion over the next five years for highway and railroad improvements and part of a $30 billion package for the Northeast rail corridor.”