Press Releases

EPW Committee passes first-ever climate title in a surface transportation reauthorization bill

The largest surface reauthorization in history commits $10 billion to climate-focused projects and policies that cut global warming pollution emissions and enhance resilience of infrastructure to extreme weather

 Carper, Schumer: We must fight the climate crisis at every opportunity

U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), today celebrated the EPW Committee’s passage of the first-ever surface transportation reauthorization title committed to fighting climate change and adapting infrastructure to our worsening climate reality. This climate title is featured in America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA), which was co-authored by Ranking Member Carper and introduced on July 29. Leader Schumer in 2018 made clear that climate change must be addressed in any infrastructure bill moving forward, and Senators Carper and Schumer penned a May 2019 op-ed stressing the need for infrastructure legislation to reduce emissions and improve the resiliency of our roads. 

“Throughout months of negotiations, I made it clear that Senate Democrats want a forward-looking surface transportation reauthorization bill that does more than just repair or restore infrastructure to its previous state. We successfully worked with the majority to secure major provisions that will move our transportation system forward to the climate-friendly, resilient infrastructure of the future,” said Senator Carper. “Today, our committee unanimously approved a bipartisan highway bill that includes the first-ever climate title, committing $10 billion to programs and policies that will reduce global warming pollution from the cars, trucks and vans we drive—emissions that help to fuel the climate crisis—and make our roads and bridges more resilient to extreme weather events and worsening natural disasters. Among other climate-related provisions, America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act will jumpstart the installation of alternative fueling and charging stations across the country, so that we can support the growing market for the electric, hydrogen and natural gas-powered cars of the future. We also fought to secure provisions that will encourage states to cut carbon emissions and reduce pollution from our nation’s ports, which are often located near disadvantaged communities. The urgency of global warming demands our continued commitment and more action—this bill is just the start. I’m encouraged by the committee’s action today, and look forward to the work ahead of us.”

“The first-ever, significant climate investment in this bill marks critical progress in the effort to address the biggest existential threat to our planet: climate change,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. “Less than a year ago, I said Democrats would demand that climate change be addressed in any infrastructure bill moving forward. This bill is product of that demand and makes a $10 billion investment to improve air quality and reduce carbon pollution to combat our worsening climate reality. Democrats remain committed to pushing bold solutions that match the urgency and scale of the crisis,  but in the current political climate here in Congress, we intend to push for climate change solutions at every opportunity.  There is much more work to do, but this climate title would be a meaningful down payment on that goal.” 

Text of America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act can be found here, and a summary of the bill can be accessed here. Read the section-by-section of the legislation here.

The transportation sector is our nation’s largest source of carbon pollution. As we experience more frequent extreme weather events, our roads, highways and bridges must be built to withstand the ever-worsening effects of our climate crisis. America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA) includes the first-ever climate title in a transportation bill with $10 billion dedicated to climate-focused programs and policies to reduce emissions and improve the resiliency of our transportation infrastructure to climate change and natural disasters.

Invests in states to reduce global warming pollution

ATIA includes $3 billion over the next 5 years to be distributed to states and cities for projects dedicated to lowering carbon emissions. This new program creates incentives to reduce emissions by providing greater project flexibility to states and cities that develop carbon emission reduction plans. ATIA provides an additional $500 million in performance awards to states and cities that successfully reduce emissions.

Supports clean cars of the future

To support the growing market for electric and alternative fuel vehicles, ATIA provides $1 billion in competitive grants over the next 5 years for states and localities to build electric vehicle charging infrastructure, as well as hydrogen and natural gas fueling infrastructure along designated highway corridors.

Reduces harmful emissions from ports and roadways

Ports are a significant source of carbon emissions and are often located near vulnerable communities that are disproportionately burdened by the environmental and health impacts of pollution. ATIA dedicates $370 million to reduce emissions at ports by advancing projects such as port electrification.

ATIA also creates a new competitive grant program to provide $200 million over the next 5 years to reduce highway travel and congestion in metropolitan areas by encouraging the use of transit and carpooling. ATIA also significantly increases funding for the Transportation Alternatives Program to help install bike lanes, sidewalks, and reduces reliance on car travel.

Improves the resiliency of transportation infrastructure

ATIA invests nearly $5 billion over 5 years to improve the resiliency of roads and bridges from natural disasters and extreme weather events, which will continue to worsen with climate change. $3.93 billion will be distributed to states by formula and $1 billion is available in competitive grants. The PROTECT Grants Program supports projects that reinforce, upgrade or realign existing transportation infrastructure to better withstand extreme weather. The program also includes funds dedicated specifically to coastal state resiliency and to fund emergency evacuation routes. 

ATIA harnesses the power of Mother Nature through the use of natural infrastructure such as marshes and wetlands that protect roads from storm surges during tropical cyclones, hurricanes and Nor’easters. ATIA also establishes new eligibilities for natural infrastructure in the National Highway Performance Program and to the Emergency Relief program. Finally, ATIA adds resiliency for freight to the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects Program (commonly known as INFRA).