For generations, entrenched disparities in our economy and our society have made it harder for communities of color to get a fair shot at the American dream. The consequences of decades of disinvestment in America’s physical infrastructure have fallen most heavily on communities of color, while the impacts of pollution and the climate crisis disproportionately threaten the lives and livelihoods of Americans of color. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework will address challenges that impact communities of color across the country and inhibit their economic opportunity and public health.
In some cities, households of color are twice as likely to take public transportation. One study found that a metropolitan area’s 10 percent increase in transit seats or rail service miles per capita is associated with up to $1.8 billion per year in increased wages. The Framework’s historic investment in public transit – the largest federal investment in history – will reduce commute times and create more economic opportunities in communities of color.
The Framework will also address the stark digital divide in this country: Black families are 9% less likely to have high-speed internet than their white peers, and Latino Americans are 15% less likely. About 35% of individuals living on Tribal lands lack access to broadband service. In addition to achieving President Biden’s goal of connecting every American to reliable high-speed internet, the Framework will also drive down prices for internet service and close the digital divide by making broadband more affordable, including in low-income communities and communities of color.
Communities of color have been disproportionally impacted by climate change, environmental pollution, and lead pipes and service lines. The Framework makes the largest investment in addressing legacy pollution in American history, a cleanup effort that will create good-paying union jobs and advance environmental justice. And, it will eliminate lead pipes and service lines, delivering clean drinking water to up to ten million American families and more than 400,000 schools and child care facilities that currently don’t have it, including in Tribal Nations and disadvantaged communities.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework:
ADVANCES RACIAL EQUITY THROUGH AMERICA’S TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM
- Builds a more equitable transportation infrastructure and public systems. In some cities, Americans of color are more than twice as likely as white Americans to rely on public transportation. Asian American and African American workers commute by public transit at nearly 4 times the rate of white workers. For example, low-wage Black residents in Chicago spend 70 additional minutes commuting to work than their white peers. In New York City, the average Black resident spends 110 minutes more per week commuting to work than the average white resident. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework addresses these challenges by investing $48.5 billion of new investment to modernize transit, and improve accessibility for the elderly and people with disabilities. The Framework is the largest Federal investment in public transit in history. It will clear the backlog in public transit repairs, and build new transit. It will replace thousands of transit vehicles, including buses, with clean, zero emission vehicles. And, these investments will yield significant returns for communities of color. Investments in public transit help people get better jobs and higher wages, and raise economic growth and productivity. One study found that a metropolitan area’s 10 percent increase in transit seats or rail service miles per capita is associated with up to $1.8 billion per year in increased wages. Another study found that improved transit access increases labor force participation.
- Builds a national network of electric vehicle chargers, with a focus on disadvantaged, hard-to-reach communities, and will electrify more than 35,000 school buses. The Framework invests $7.5 billion in grant funding, plus an additional $7.5 billion in low-cost financing, to build out a national network of EV chargers. This is the first-ever national investment in EV charging infrastructure in the United States. Public financing will have a particular focus on rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach communities. It will construct 500,000 chargers nationwide. In addition, the Framework will make a critical down payment on helping the more than 25 million children and thousands of bus drivers who breathe polluted air on their rides to and from school. Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other health problems that hurt our communities and cause students to miss school, particularly in communities of color and Tribal communities. The Framework will deliver more than 35,000 electric school buses nationwide, helping school districts across the country buy clean, American-made, zero emission buses, replacing a sizable percent of the yellow school bus fleet.
- Creates a first-ever program to reconnect communities divided by transportation infrastructure. Portions of the interstate highway system were built through Black neighborhoods, destroying homes, schools, churches, and parks and causing lasting impacts for residents who stayed. More broadly, historic investments in transportation infrastructure, especially highway construction, cut too many Americans off from opportunity, dividing and demolishing communities, and perpetuating economic and racial injustices. The Framework creates a first-ever program to reconnect communities divided by transportation infrastructure. The program will fund planning, design, demolition, and reconstruction of street grids, parks, or other infrastructure. This is in addition to other major grant programs that could fund elements of these projects.
DELIVERS UNIVERSAL BROADBAND TO COMMUNITIES OF COLOR
- Bridges the digital divide by delivering high speed internet to every American household. There is a stark digital divide in America. Black and Latino families are less likely to be able to access home broadband internet than white families, compounding systemic barriers to opportunity and economic equality. About 35% of individuals living on Tribal lands and communities lack access to broadband service. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there were stories of kids sitting in McDonald’s parking lots to log on to remote school in parts of the country. The President believes this is unacceptable. The Framework invests $65 billion to make high-speed broadband available to all Americans, to bring down high-speed internet prices across the board, and to close the digital divide. His plan will also invest in long overdue expansion of broadband on Tribal lands, in consultation with Tribal Nations. With the 1936 Rural Electrification Act, the Federal government made a historic investment in bringing electricity to nearly every home and farm in America, and millions of families and our economy reaped the benefits. Broadband internet is the new electricity. It is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning and health care, and to stay connected.
MAKES GENERATIONAL INVESTMENTS IN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
- Eliminates all lead pipes across the nation to safeguard the health and safety of families of color. Across the country, pipes and treatment plants are aging and polluted drinking water is endangering public health. There are up to 10 million homes with lead service lines and pipes. Children in up to 400,000 schools and child care facilities are at risk of exposure to lead. Communities of color in cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, and Newark at particular risk. For kids, higher exposure to lead can translate to IQ points lost, can negatively affect academic performance, and can lead to cardiovascular disease later in life. By some estimates, each lead service line replaced at a cost of $5,000 per line leads to $22,000 in health savings. The Framework makes the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history, replacing all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines. From rural towns to struggling cities, the Framework invests in water infrastructure across America, including in Tribal Nations and disadvantaged communities that need it most.
- Safeguards communities of color from climate crises and extreme weather risks. People of color are more likely to live in areas most vulnerable to flooding and other climate change-related weather events. For example, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Black and Hispanic residents were twice as likely to report lost income. Tribal lands are significantly at risk to the effects of climate change and Alaska Natives are particularly vulnerable, as they face multiple climate impacts.The Framework invests $52 billion in helping communities build resilience to wildfires and floods through investments in forest management and upgrades to critical infrastructure — like elevating buildings, roads, and bridges, hardening physical infrastructure, and winterizing the power grid. And, it will fund state and local infrastructure improvements and emergency response strategies, such as planning grants to support development of evacuation routes or upgrading community shelters. The Framework will also make it easier for low-income families to buy flood insurance.
- Invests in clean transmission to advance climate justice and mitigate the disparate impacts of pollution on communities of color. Black, Latino, and Native communities are more likely to be burdened by pollution. Black people are almost three times more likely to die from asthma related causes than their white counterparts. And more than one in three — or over 23 million — Latinos in the U.S. live in counties where the air doesn’t meet EPA public health standards for smog. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework helps start meeting this challenge by making the single largest investment in transmission in American history. It creates a Grid Development Authority at the Department of Energy to enable a national, clean energy power grid and funds to support activities that reduce the impacts to the electric grid and communities from extreme weather, wildfire, and natural disasters. It deploys long distance, high voltage transmission to enhance reliability and resilience, lower costs, and integrate the highest value clean energy resources. It invests in research and development for advanced transmission and electricity distribution technologies, and smart grid technologies that deliver flexibility and resilience. And, it invests more than $22 billion in demonstration projects and research hubs for next generation technologies like advanced nuclear reactors, carbon capture for industrial plants, and green hydrogen.
- Addresses legacy pollution. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework provides the full American Jobs Plan funding level — $21 billion – to create good-paying union jobs plugging orphan oil and gas wells, cleaning up abandoned mines, and remediating Brownfield and Superfund sites. As we transition to a clean energy future, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework will begin to remedy economic injustice for communities across the country that have relied on the fossil fuel industry and have been affected most by the impacts of climate change and pollution, including rural communities and communities of color.