National Wildlife Federation Report Calls for Equitable Infrastructure Investment in 11 Cities, Revitalization Projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new report from the National Wildlife Federation’s Environmental Justice, Climate and Community Revitalization Program brings to the forefront infrastructure inequities and investment opportunities across 11 cities in urban and rural settings, including nine communities and two successful, community-based projects.

The report, titled “11 Examples to Build Back Better,” highlights how the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better framework, including the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), can make transformational investments that address these inequities, if responsibly implemented in collaboration with local leaders.

“For decades, Black, Indigenous, Latine, Asian, Pacific Islander and communities of lower wealth have struggled with non-existent and deteriorating infrastructure, historical disinvestments, water insecurity, health inequities and cumulative impacts stemming from exposure to toxins and pollution that only continue to worsen,” said Mustafa Santiago Ali, vice president of environmental justice, climate, and community revitalization at the National Wildlife Federation. “The cities analyzed in this report are just a few of those experiencing environmental injustices throughout the country. It’s time for the Biden Administration to ensure race is included as criteria in the decision-making process for infrastructure investments so that federal opportunities actually reach vulnerable communities that have the most at stake.” 

Plans for spending the IIJA funding vary significantly across race, communities and geographic locations. Created with input from local leaders, the newly released report magnifies infrastructure needs of frontline and fence-line communities and highlights IIJA provisions that could address long-standing environmental and infrastructure inequities exacerbated by climate change.

Featured communities, programs and projects include:

  • Benton Harbor, Michigan: Aging infrastructure causing magnified lead contamination in water
  • Birmingham, Alabama: Aging infrastructure and flooding 
  • Jackson, Mississippi: Repetitive flood damage, infrastructure needs and water quality 
  • Mount Vernon, New York: Raw sewage backup, flooding and pollution 
  • Regenesis Project, Spartanburg, South Carolina: Contaminated site cleanup with opportunities to reclaim abandoned coal mines, plug orphan oil and gas wells
  • Kit Carson Electric, Taos, New Mexico: Electric infrastructure resilience, increasing renewable energy generation in coal communities
  • Coconino County, Arizona: Wildfires leading to increased rates of flooding, erosion and runoff damage to environment and property
  • Peshtigo, Wisconsin: Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substance contamination in soil, sediment, groundwater, surface water and private drinking wells
  • Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota: Lack of public transportation and housing infrastructure leading to multi-family dwellings
  • Oscoda, Michigan: Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substance groundwater plumes impacting Clark’s Marsh and Au Sable River, prompting public health warnings
  • Waterproof, Louisiana: Lead contamination and lack of access to clean, healthy drinking water

The Environmental Justice, Climate, and Community Revitalization Program at the National Wildlife Federation is committed to ensuring that frontline and fence-line communities are able to leverage opportunities and investments stemming from President Biden’s Build Back Better framework. In addition to underscoring environmental justice opportunities within the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the program seeks to uplift and bolster the realities, needs and solutions of community partners to ground investments and provisions. 

Read the full report here.



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