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Transportation Bill Delivers Wins, Bipartisan Solutions for Infrastructure, Emissions, Wildlife Alike

Washington, DC  — New legislation from U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) delivers a forward-looking blueprint to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, invest in workers, reduce emissions and support wildlife. The National Wildlife Federation thanked the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for swiftly taking up the bill—which includes a series of policies and ideas from the organization’s infrastructure blueprint.

“Chairman Barrasso and Ranking Member Carper are demonstrating once again that infrastructure and conservation are rare issues that can bring Congress together during this era of divided government,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “This forward-looking legislation will rebuild crumbling roads, bridges, and railways, invest in a 21st-century transportation system, support well-paying careers, reduce climate and local air and water pollution, bolster community resilience, and conserve at-risk wildlife. We urge the Senate to act swiftly to pass the Barrasso-Carper bill and deliver results for communities, workers, and wildlife all across our nation, before the 2020 campaign overwhelms this opportunity.”

The National Wildlife Federation has been leading conversations with federal lawmakers and other partners on how to rebuild America’s infrastructure, invest in workers, strengthen resilience, and support wildlife-friendly and climate-smart solutions. The five-year surface transportation reauthorization bill includes a series of ideas and policies from the National Wildlife Federation or inspired by its infrastructure blueprint, including:

  • A new discretionary grant program of $250 million over five years, to improve habitat connectivity and reduce fatalities from wildlife-vehicle collisions by connecting fragmented habitat and migration corridors, which are making it more difficult for migration, mating, rearing young, and accessing food, water, etc.
  • A climate title that dedicates $10 billion over five years for a mix of emissions reduction and resilience programs, including advancing alternative fuel vehicle infrastructure (notably EVs and hydrogen), encouraging development of transportation emission reduction plans, reducing traffic congestion, cutting greenhouse gas emissions at port facilities and freight systems, constructing more bike and pedestrian options, expanding mass transit, and encouraging resilience planning and the ability to prepare for extreme weather and natural disasters. The climate title also houses reauthorization of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) and the USE It Act (carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies).
  • Within the new climate title, a new transportation resiliency grant program authorizes $1 billion a year for a combination of formula-based and competitive grants to states to increase the ability of infrastructure to better withstand and adapt to changing conditions and natural disaster events. The program supports the use of natural defenses to improve community resilience and has specific set-asides for coastal resilience, evacuation routes, and rural and tribal communities.

While this bill contains many exciting wins for wildlife and communities, National Wildlife Federation is troubled by the inclusion of language that seeks to impose arbitrary deadlines on complex projects, gives project proponents undue influence over the environmental review process, and continues a trend of sidelining agencies with conservation expertise.

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