First Padilla Bills Signed Into Law In Historic Infrastructure Package

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law by President Biden includes legislation and priorities championed by Padilla to strengthen the electric grid, improve Tribal health infrastructure, reduce carbon emissions, and improve access to clean water and water resiliency

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Budget and Environment and Public Works Committees, issued the following statement after President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law. The bill includes Padilla’s legislation to improve Tribal health infrastructure, strengthen our electrical grids, improve water resiliency, help ensure clean drinking water for all Californians, and electrify our school bus fleet. Padilla attended the signing ceremony at the White House.

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act marks the largest investment in our nation’s infrastructure in nearly a century and will provide billions in federal funding to California.

“The enactment of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will deliver long overdue, historic investments to rebuild America’s infrastructure and public transit, while creating millions of good-paying, union jobs,” said Senator Padilla. “I’m particularly excited that this legislation includes some of the first bills I introduced as a United States Senator and will improve the lives of Californians by shoring up our limited water resources, electrifying school buses, improving the resilience of our electrical grid, and delivering critical investments for Tribal communities.

“And now, the work continues to advance the Build Back Better plan to lower costs and create a more fair economy for hard working Americans. Democrats are finalizing a transformative investment in our families that will help make child and elder care more affordable, lower the cost of housing, and create new programs to combat the climate crisis and put more money back into the pockets of working families. We will also continue fighting to provide the broadest protections possible for undocumented immigrants – because immigrants are essential to all aspects of this package in order to build back better.”

California’s infrastructure is currently rated a C- by the American Society of Civil Engineers after suffering from decades of federal underinvestment. The historicInfrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding will help to meet the infrastructure needs of California residents, create a generation of good-paying union jobs and grow our state’s economy.

As a member of the EPW and Budget committees, Padilla has been a leading voice in advocating for infrastructure investments in California. In April, Padilla joined abipartisan, bicameral meeting with President Biden and Vice President Harris to discuss the bipartisan bill. And over the last several months, Padilla has traveled across the state on an Infrastructure Listening Tour to bring California voices to the table and ensure the package reflects our state’s priorities.

Additional background on Senator Padilla’s efforts included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Agreement:

Grid Resiliency

The bipartisan law includes Padilla’s bipartisan POWER On Act and will invest $5 billion over five years to help prevent blackouts, shutoffs and utility-caused wildfires by funding projects that enhance the physical resilience of the electric grid in response to extreme weather events and natural disasters. The law will fund thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewable energy and create a new Grid Deployment Authority, invest in research and development for advanced transmission and electricity distribution technologies, and promote smart grid technologies that deliver flexibility and resilience.

Improving Water Resiliency

The law incorporates the Drought Resiliency Investment Actcosponsored by Padilla, to combat drought and protect the water supply of millions of Americans living in California and other western states. The law creates a grant program for large-scale water recycling projects in California and the other sixteen western states and will allow federal funding to be used for an increased range of activities to plan for and mitigate against drought.

Padilla traveled throughout California’s Central Valley visiting farms and water infrastructure facilities and met with numerous local and state leaders to discuss the critical water and transportation infrastructure investments needed in the region.

Lead Pipe Replacement

This bipartisan package includes $15 billion to replace lead pipes and service lines across the country. Earlier this year, Senators Padilla and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) introduced the Lead-Free Drinking Water for All Act, an ambitious effort to begin to replace every lead service line and pipe in America over the next 10 years.  Currently, up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and child care centers lack safe, lead-free drinking water.

Lead contamination in drinking water is particularly prevalent in California’s Central Valley: in 2017, approximately 25 percent of schools in Fresno County reported lead in their drinking water, while almost 1 in 5 kids statewide attended a school that served drinking water with lead contamination. California is making headway to ensure lead-free water in schools, and this law will help guarantee that kids have access to lead-free water when they go home, too.

Electric School Buses

The bipartisan law will deliver thousands of new electric school buses nationwide, helping school districts across the country buy clean, American-made, zero-emission buses. The law includes an initial investment of over $2.5 billion for zero-emission buses and makes them eligible for an additional $2.5 billion in school bus replacement funding. Padilla previously introduced the Clean Commute for Kids Act, legislation that would invest $25 billion to replace existing diesel buses with electric buses.

In May, Padilla joined Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner, along with local community leaders, to showcase the school district’s first electrified school bus and discuss the importance of transitioning America’s school bus fleet to electric school buses. On a typical day before the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 25 million American children were exposed to air pollution as they rode over 500,000 predominantly diesel buses to school.

Improved Urban Indian Health Infrastructure

The law includes Senator Padilla’s bipartisan bill to reverse a long-standing injustice by allowing Urban Indian organizations (UIOs) to spend appropriated funds on construction and renovation projects to improve the safety and quality of health care provided to urban Indians living in California and other urban centers.

Reconnecting Communities

The law creates a first-ever program to reconnect communities divided by transportation infrastructure. The program is modeled after the Reconnecting Communities Actcosponsored by Padilla. The program will fund planning, design, demolition, and reconstruction of street grids, parks, or other infrastructure through $1 billion of dedicated funding.

A factsheet with this information can be found here.

Specifically, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will benefit California by:

Strengthening the supply chain with robust investments in port and freight infrastructure to alleviate the backlog while mitigating impacts on nearby communities.

  • Provides $17 billion for port and waterway infrastructure across the U.S., including funding to support zero-emission technology and electrification to mitigate air quality and environmental impacts on nearby communities.
  • Delivers $5 billion for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement program to improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of freight and intercity passenger rail across the country.

Repairing and rebuilding our roads and bridges with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users.

  • California will receive $25.3 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $4.2 billion for bridge replacement and repairs over five years.
  • California will receive $631 million to reinforce, upgrade, or realign existing transportation infrastructure to better withstand extreme weather and natural disasters, such as wildfires.
  • Invests approximately $17 billion for port and waterway infrastructure across the U.S.

Improving healthy, sustainable public transportation options for millions of Americans.

  • Delivers approximately $9.5 billion to California to repair and upgrade aging public transit systems, modernize bus and rail fleets, make stations more accessible, and deliver new and more frequent transit service.
    • This includes an increase in funding for the Capital Investment Grants program, which supports projects like LA Metro’s Purple Line extension, Caltrain’s electrification project, BART’s Transbay Corridor Core Capacity Project, and San Diego’s Mid-Coast Corridor Transit Project.
  • Provides $2.5 billion nationwide specifically for zero-emission school buses and makes them eligible for a further $2.5 billion in grants and reimbursements, an important down payment towards fulfilling the goals of Senator Padilla’s Clean Commute for Kids Act.

Securing and diversifying California’s water supply and infrastructure.

  • Provides over $8 billion for western water infrastructure, including funding for California to repair aging infrastructure, restore imperiled ecosystems, and improve water efficiency.
  • Helps fund projects to improve water supply across the state, including the large-scale regional water recycling project that the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is pursuing.
  • Includes Senator Padilla’s provision to make stormwater reuse and groundwater recharge projects eligible for new federal funding.

Making drinking water safer for all Americans.

  • Invests in upgrading critical drinking water and wastewater infrastructure nationwide, including $3.5 billion for California’s Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Loan Funds.
  • Allocates $10 billion nationwide to clean up “forever chemicals” including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which has contaminated the drinking water for nearly 20% of California residents.
  • Provides $15 billion nationwide for the removal of lead service lines, an important down payment towards fulfilling the goals of Senator Padilla’s Lead-Free Drinking Water for All Act.

Developing more resilient power infrastructure to prevent blackouts and withstand extreme weather and disasters.

  • Includes Senator Padilla’s POWER On Act and invests $5 billion in grants across the U.S. to harden the grid in order to prevent shutoffs and better withstand extreme weather events and natural disasters, like wildfires.
  • Delivers $2.5 billion nationwide to expand electric power transmission lines — which is necessary for the widespread implementation of renewable energy across the country.
  • Invests $3 billion nationwide for Smart Grid grants to upgrade our electrical grid to conserve energy, better manage our consumption, and provide more tools to respond in real time to needs and challenges.

Building greener infrastructure and protecting California’s diverse ecosystems.

  • Delivers $2.6 billion for reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality in California.
  • Supports the expansion of an electric vehicle charging network across California with $384 million over five years.
  • Provides $162 million for Klamath Basin habitat restoration projects that protect young salmon, improve water quality, and support tribal and non-tribal fishermen. 
  • Provides $24 million to improve water quality, aquatic life, and ecosystem processes in the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
  • Invests $17 million to combat aquatic invasive species in the Lake Tahoe watershed.

Preventing wildfires, managing vegetation, and rehabilitating burned areas.

  • Provides $1.5 billion to carry out hazardous fuels reduction projects and other mitigation activities across the United States to remove vegetation and make wildfires less severe and more easily contained. 
  • Delivers $600 million to increase federal firefighter salaries and convert at least 1,000 seasonal firefighters to permanent, year-round positions. 
  • Invests $500 million in community wildfire defense grants for high-risk communities
  • Includes $200 million to carry out post-fire restoration activities including theBurned Area Rehabilitation program that repairs landscapes and small infrastructure damaged by wildfires, building resilience against future fires.

Cleaning up legacy pollution and advancing environmental justice.

  • Provides $4.7 billion to clean up abandoned oil and gas wells on public, state, Tribal, and private lands, reducing methane emissions and creating jobs. There are about 35,000 abandoned wells in California, negatively impacting the public health of the more than 350,000 Californians who live within 600 feet of these unplugged oil and gas wells. 
  • Includes $3.5 billion for EPA’s Superfund program, which will allow the EPA to remediate contaminated sites across the country and accelerate the clean-up of California’s 100+ Superfund sites.
  • Provides $1.2 billion for the EPA Brownfield program, which funds competitive grants to communities, states, Tribal governments, and others to clean-up contaminated properties. California has tens of thousands of brownfield sites awaiting clean-up. 
  • Funds $11.3 billion to clean up abandoned coal mines and create jobs. There are approximately 39,000 abandoned mines in California.

Helping connect every American to reliable high-speed internet.

  • California will receive at least $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state, including providing access to the at least 545,000 Californians who currently lack it.
  • 10,637,000 or 27% of Californians will be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which will help low-income families afford internet access.

A factsheet with this information can be found here.

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