Paper plates and school buses: What you might have missed in Biden's infrastructure plan

The government’s plan is to electrify at least a fifth of US school buses from a fleet of nearly 500,000 through a new EPA grant program. A 2019 report The US PIRG Education Fund found that switching from school buses to electricity would cut emissions by 5.3 million tons, the equivalent of about a million cars off the road. And if the initial cost of replacement can be overcome, electric fleets could save school districts significant fuel bills.

The plan also includes converting its entire fleet of federal vehicles to electric, a force of nearly 650,000 – including vans for the USPS, which is in the process of installing a massive newand controversial) Procurement effort, although only 10 percent of it was classified as electrical.

Beyond visibility, the investments required to equip school districts and USPS facilities across the country with the infrastructure to maintain a fleet could help foster wider adoption beyond major cities.

Educational nation

In addition to school buses, the proposal also says that funds will be used to help school districts reduce single-use items in their dining rooms. The potential impact is grave: Middle schools in Minnetonka, Minnesota, dumped disposable utensils and bowls, saving $ 23,000 over three years, preventing over three tons of trash, and saving water.

Biden’s proposal involves all types of investments in schools and education, including higher education. A pot of money that has received less attention: a request to invest $ 10 billion in research and development at historically black colleges and universities, and $ 15 billion more to create centers of excellence at HBCUs.

New federal offices

The proposal also includes a staggering $ 50 billion over eight years to create an office within the Department of Commerce to oversee the country’s critical supply chains whose vulnerabilities were exposed during the coronavirus pandemic. To get an impression of the scope of this office, which still needs to be defined beyond these broad contours, the whole thing The last approved budget of the Ministry of Commerce was only $ 9 billion, and the largest division, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, accounted for $ 5.4 billion.

The White House did not provide details of how the money would be spent, but noted that the office would be “dedicated to monitoring domestic industrial capacity and funding investments to support the production of critical goods.”

In addition, the establishment of a network provision authority in the energy department is required in order to modernize the network infrastructure. The White House assumes that the existing rights of way on roads and railways can be better used and supports “creative financing instruments to encourage additional high-voltage transmission lines with high priority”.

Expand broadband

A $ 100 billion plan from Biden’s Plan is dedicated to closing the digital divide. And in addition to planning to expand broadband access to underserved parts of the country, Biden is aggressively targeting what his government calls “overpriced” broadband offerings in the US compared to other countries.

The Biden Plan challenges the wisdom of a private sector dominated US telecommunications market and whether these for-profit companies are really focused on the interests of American consumers. Its emphasis on billing pricing is a departure from many of the traditional proposals for broadband grants in recent years.

“And when I say affordable, I mean it,” remarked Biden in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. “Americans pay too much for Internet services.”

The $ 100 billion proposed by the White House would put pressure on commercial Internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T by prioritizing the distribution of those federal expansion subsidies to other institutions like local governments and nonprofits. And Biden wants to mandate that broadband providers be more open about what they are charging their customers.

Computing power to increase the pentagon

Biden’s plan calls for $ 180 billion to be invested in research and development, including new technology the Pentagon is trying to use to counter China’s military gains over the past few decades.

The blueprint recommends $ 50 billion for the National Science Foundation to focus on emerging areas such as semiconductors, advanced computing, biotechnology, and advanced energy technology. Biden’s plan also includes investments in other technologies the Pentagon is targeting, including artificial intelligence and quantum computers.

Tinker with tax credits

Biden suggested extending the current investment tax credit, which subsidizes solar and storage projects, and the production tax credit, which subsidizes wind power, for 10 years. As part of the plan, Biden helped expand the credit to include a direct compensation option, as well as tying those breaks to strict labor standards.

Extending the loans is a top priority for the renewable energy industry. This indicates that they are making the industry grow by providing consistency and security for projects that often have long development lead times.

A White House fact sheet also suggested investing in decarbonized hydrogen demonstration projects in distressed communities with a new production tax credit that can advance capital project retrofits and installations. Biden’s plan also includes expanding what is known as the 45Q tax credit, which carbon capture and storage projects access to make it easier to use for industrial applications, direct air capture, and retrofitting to existing power plants.

The president’s plan also supports the extension of the advanced power generation tax credit known as the 48C. Taken together, the credits suggest that the Biden government is seeking tax legislation as an incentive to move to clean energy technologies as part of its overall goal to eliminate carbon pollution from the power sector by 2035.

Lorraine Woellert, John Hendel, Steven Overly, Michael Stratford, Connor O’Brien, and Kelsey Tamborrino contributed to this report.

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