INVEST in America Act Just Another Green Infrastructure Boondoggle

June 14, 2020 Updated: June 16, 2020

Commentary

As Americans are struggling with the economic (and social) fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. House of Representatives recently unveiled a $494 billion bill that would bail-out Amtrak and “invest” billions in green energy projects.

Is this really the best time for the federal government to spend (aka borrow) almost half a trillion dollars on a bunch of pork-barrel pet projects? Probably not, to say the least.

“The INVEST in America Act is our opportunity to replace the outdated systems of the past with smarter, safer, more resilient infrastructure that fits the economy of the future, creates millions of jobs, supports American manufacturing, and restores U.S. competitiveness,” according to Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.).

On its face, that doesn’t sound too bad.

However, as with all legislation, the devil is in the details. And what are the details of the INVEST in America Act?

According to the legislation’s fact sheet, “The Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act is a 5-year, $494 billion investment to get our existing infrastructure working again and fund new, transformative projects that will create millions of jobs and support American manufacturing and ingenuity while reducing carbon pollution, dramatically improving safety, and spurring economic activity. It’s investing in infrastructure that is smarter, safer, and made to last.”

And what would this include? Among items listed under the “Highway Investments: $319 Billion” header, the following:

  • “Measures state-by-state greenhouse gas emissions, with incentives for best performers in carbon pollution reduction, and a new program to fund resilient infrastructure that can withstand the impacts of climate change.”
  • “Dramatically increases funding for development of charging stations and other alternative fueling options for electric and zero-emissions vehicles.”
  • “Doubles funding for technology deployment to increase innovation and creates new program to fund green materials research and to deploy green construction materials and practices to create smarter, more efficient transportation systems.”

Just wondering, were these things taken straight from the Green New Deal?

Under the header “Transit Investments: $105 Billion” comes this nugget: “Increases investment in zero-emissions buses to reduce carbon pollution.” Do we really need to spend more money on “zero-emissions” buses?

Really, right now?

Last but not least, comes “Rail Investments: $60 Billion.” Alternatively, the header for this section also could have been: “How to flush $60 billion down to the toilet.” Seriously, this is like launching $60 billion into a black hole. For instance, items in this section include:

  • “Triples funding for Amtrak to $29 billion over five years, allowing for improvement and expansion of the Nation’s passenger rail network, including the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and the National Network, giving travelers a reliable, low-carbon option to travel both short and long distances, including to regions that lack frequent or affordable airport service.”
  • “Invests in Amtrak stations, facilities, services, and modernization of its equipment, while continuing Amtrak’s legacy of serving long-distance, state-supported, and Northeast Corridor passengers and ensuring a skilled Amtrak workforce.”
  • “Prohibits U.S. DOT from allowing the transport of liquified natural gas by rail tank car until extensive safety analysis is performed and additional conditions are met.”

Keep in mind, the actual bill is 864 pages. The items identified above are just a drop in the bucket when one considers all of the green-energy subsidies and other environmental shenanigans that have been stuffed into this mammoth piece of legislation.

So, what is the real point of the INVEST in America Act? Is it to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure? Plow billions into green energy projects? A bit of both?

Perhaps DeFazio said it best: “We’re still running our economy on an inefficient, 1950s-era system that costs Americans increasingly more time and money while making the transportation sector the nation’s biggest source of carbon pollution. That all changes with the INVEST in America Act.”

And there you have it. The INVEST in America Act isn’t about upgrading our roads and bridges as much as it is about reducing carbon dioxide emissions and pumping billions into bankrupt Amtrak. Put another way, the INVEST in America Act is a road to nowhere, except more debt and green energy boondoggles.

Chris Talgo (ctalgo@heartland.org) is an editor at The Heartland Institute.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.