Eco Fixes

Texas to get millions from infrastructure bill for environmental fixes

Texas to get millions from infrastructure bill for environmental fixes

Electric bus Austin
Electric bus in Austin. Courtesy of New Flyer of America

On November 5, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, legislation that’s anticipated to produce hundreds of thousands of union jobs and transform the U.S. transportation system, with investments in passenger rail, roads, and bridges.

A release from Environment Texas, a grassroots environmental group, shares some of the many positive effects the package is anticipated to have on Texas’ transportation and power infrastructure, and its stores of clean water.

Key environmental provisions include:

Lead pipes removal. There are an estimated 270,000 lead service lines still in Texas. Texas is expected to receive $2.9 billion over five years. The state had 6,000 sewage overflows in 2019, leading the American Society of Civil Engineers to give Texas’ wastewater infrastructure a grade of D.

Building electric vehicle charging stations. Texas needs an estimated 12,400 level 2 charging stations and 1,720 level 3 “fast charging stations” by 2030 to meet projected demand. The state will receive $408 million over five years and can apply for $2.5 billion in grant funding.

Improve electric grid and power infrastructure. This is obviously something Texas sorely needs, especially after the great freeze in February, when transmission constraints contributed to blackouts across the state, leading to curtailments of wind and solar energy.

New passenger and freight rail. Amtrak has proposed new rail service connecting Dallas to Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston, while Texas Central is working to build high-speed rail between Dallas and Houston. According to Environment Texas, these projects could potentially benefit from the new funding.

New public transit. The bill dedicates $39 billion to new public transit projects, described as the largest investment in public transit in history. Texas stands to receive $3.3 billion over five years, with likely recipients to include Austin’s Project Connect and Houston’s MetroNext.

Environmental remediation. Texas has 55 superfund sites, 32 abandoned mines, and 783,000 unplugged oil and gas wells. Oy.

More zero- and low-emission buses. At least 13 school districts in Texas have expressed interest in purchasing electric buses. Nine transit agencies in Texas have already, or plan to, purchase electric buses.

The legislature is still working on the Build Back Better Act, a budget reconciliation bill with clean-energy tax incentives and other investments that would help the U.S. stall climate change and clean up our environment.