December 8, 2021

Volume XI, Number 342

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December 07, 2021

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December 06, 2021

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Biden Infrastructure Proposal Plants Seeds for a Greener Tomorrow

We have previously blogged about President Biden’s infrastructure plan released in late March. The sweeping $2 trillion plan provides a blueprint designed to strengthen America’s infrastructure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This goal was also highlighted in the president’s recent discretionary spending request to Congress, requesting $1.8 billion in programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which EPA Administrator Michael Regan called “historic investments to tackle the climate crisis[.]”

In three principal areas — research and development, vehicle emissions, and building improvements — the Biden plan pushes to spur technological advancement and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Research and Development

The infrastructure plan calls for significant investment in research and development of green technologies.  This portion includes:

  • Investing in 15 decarbonized hydrogen demonstration projects in economically distressed communities.  Decarbonized hydrogen is produced from natural gas.  Recent studies indicate that ― with significant advancements in production, storage, and transportation technology — decarbonized hydrogen could provide a greener alternative for power generation, industrial heating, and as an industrial feedstock.

  • Introducing a new production tax credit to encourage retrofitting existing energy facilities to facilitate decarbonization.

  • Establishing 10 facilities to demonstrate carbon capture retrofits in steel, cement, and chemical production facilities.

  • Reforming and expanding current tax credits to decarbonize industrial facilities, utilize direct air capture, and retrofit existing power plants.

  • Establishing the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Climate (ARPA-C) to oversee development of new technologies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, build climate resilience, and expand funding for climate research.

  • Investing $15 billion in demonstration projects for research and development priorities like energy storage, carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, advanced nuclear energy, offshore wind farming, biofuel and bioproducts, quantum computing, and electric vehicle technology.

Reducing Vehicle Emissions

Much of the infrastructure plan is aimed at cutting vehicle emissions by reducing the time vehicles are on the road, encouraging public transportation, and encouraging the production and purchase of electric vehicles.

To reduce the amount of time vehicles are on the road, the plan calls for $115 billion to modernize bridges, highways, and streets.  These improvements are geared towards reducing the amount of fuel used during traffic delays, thereby reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions.

To encourage public transportation, the plan calls for two significant investments:

  • First, $85 billion to modernize existing infrastructure, doubling current federal funding for public transit.  The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that nationwide, more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 rail cars, 200 stations, and thousands of miles of track, signals, and power systems need to be replaced.  The goal is to provide easier, more reliable access to public transportation to reduce reliance on automobiles.

  • In addition, an $80 billion investment in the passenger and freight rail services.  The goal is to provide more reliable options for transportation that emit fewer greenhouse gases by addressing Amtrak’s repair backlog, modernizing the rail line, and connecting the rail line to new cities.

To spur the production and use of electric vehicles, President Biden’s plan calls for a $174 billion investment in that market.  Those investments include:

  • Incentives for automakers to build electric vehicles in the United States.

  • Making American-made electric vehicles affordable to all families through rebates and tax incentives.

  • Incentivize the construction of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers by 2030 through grants and other incentives.

  • Replacing 50,000 diesel transport vehicles with electric vehicles.

  • Establishing the Clean Buses for Kids Program at EPA to electrify at least 20 percent of the nation’s school bus fleet.

  • Electrifying the federal vehicle fleet, including U.S. Postal Service vehicles.

  • Investing $50 billion in the National Science Foundation for projects including semiconductors to advance electric vehicle technologies.

Building Improvement

Finally, the President’s plan intends to cause a decrease in the use of fossil fuels as fuels in residential and commercial buildings by:

  • Extending and expanding home and commercial tax credits to construct new and retrofit existing housing units with a goal of establishing more than one million affordable, resilient, energy efficient, and electrified housing units in the United States.

  • Extending affordable, energy efficient housing opportunities through new tax credits, formula funding, grants, and rental assistance.

  • Establishing a $27 billion Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator to spur private investment in residential resources, retrofits of existing building, and clean transportation technologies.

© 2021 Schiff Hardin LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 109
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About this Author

Robert A. Middleton, Schiff Hardin, Chicago, Energy Lawyer, Litigation
Associate

Robert Middleton is taking advantage of the opportunity for new associates to work in several practice groups for broadened experience and expanded legal counseling perspectives.

Prior to joining Schiff Hardin, Mr. Middleton was with Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, first as a 711 student, and, after graduation, as a Public Interest Law Initiative Fellow. He also gained valuable experience as a Schiff Hardin summer associate in 2013. Earlier, Mr. Middleton was a legal intern with Equality Illinois.

312.258.5875
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