McConnell rejects infrastructure, but interest groups won’t let up

Source: By Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner • Posted: Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Policy groups are pushing plans to invest in ports, airports, EV charging, and grid modernization projects, just as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is shutting down the prospect of infrastructure making it into future coronavirus legislation.

The Breakthrough Institute, an environmental research group, released a series of policy papers Wednesday headlined by a recommendation that the federal government allocate $5 billion for EV charging stations in future economic recovery legislation. That level of spending would create 65,000 jobs in the short term, Breakthrough said. It says there’s a need for 9.6 million charging stations in the U.S. by 2030 to support long-term growth in EV use (Abby recently detailed the prospects for EVs), compared to only 78,000 available today.

“Federal investment in EV infrastructure is a promising opportunity for Congress to support economic recovery while realizing environmental and public health gains,” said Erik B. Olson, a climate and energy analyst at Breakthrough.

The group also calls for $10.5 billion on marine port and airport infrastructure, which it says could generate 101,000 direct and indirect jobs. Both air travel and maritime transportation have fallen during the coronavirus outbreak, and both sectors are threatened by flooding and sea level rise from climate change.

Breakthrough says Congress should spend another $9.4 billion to fund a maintenance backlog to improve agriculture research facilities used by the Agriculture Department for science research which can enable more productive farming practices and improve carbon sequestration.

There’s more: Another group, the Bipartisan Policy Center, released its own policy papers Wednesday linking clean energy investments to economic recovery.

It calls for $220 million in additional spending for the Energy Department’s ARPA-E advanced energy research program, using $43 billion in DOE’s Loan Programs Office to finance new energy projects, allocating $5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance program for low-income ratepayers, extending their 45Q tax credit for carbon capture, and improving port infrastructure to enable more offshore wind development.