Photo of a train bridge over a river during a colorful, orange sunrise.
Bridging the gaps Infrastructure can also be an investment in nature. © Chris Johnson/TNC Photo Contest 2019

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House Transportation, Water Bills Invest in Nature, Climate

House panel approves two bills emphasizing nature-based solutions, water access

A U.S. House of Representatives panel today approved a surface transportation bill and a water infrastructure bill yesterday that together propose significant investments in nature-based infrastructure, resilience and programs to reduce carbon emissions.

The surface transportation bill approved by the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure emphasizes investments in nature-based solutions to address and improve the resiliency of the nation’s roadway infrastructure. The bill, which is similar to legislation passed out of a U.S. Senate committee last month, also includes significant new investments in electric vehicle and alternative fuel infrastructure and incentives to expand wildlife crossings to reduce vehicle impacts. It also establishes new performance measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

The water infrastructure bill also approved by the committee today would improve access to clean and safe water supplies and help communities better manage stormwater and wastewater. Like the transportation bill, this bill also emphasizes nature-based infrastructure solutions. It targets federal assistance to the unique needs of small, underserved and tribal communities that have been disproportionately impacted by poor water infrastructure and lack of access to clean and safe water supplies. It increases funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and sets aside a significant portion of that funding for green infrastructure.

The following is a statement by Kameran Onley, director of North American policy and government relations at The Nature Conservancy:

“The two bills advanced by the committee represent a major milestone for the role of nature in our nation’s infrastructure. As we continue to grapple with the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that Congress make investments that will rebuild our infrastructure, address climate change and stimulate the nation’s economy.

“The surface transportation bill would modernize our roadways and help model what future infrastructure should look like. Investing in natural infrastructure alongside traditional infrastructure will create a more sustainable and usable road system while also creating jobs, boosting local economies, protecting communities and improving the health of our natural world.

“Likewise, the investments contained in the water legislation will help ensure all Americans have access to clean and safe water supplies while addressing many of the stormwater and wastewater management challenges communities face. We commend the panel for advancing these two major investments in nature, and we urge the full House to quickly pass these bills. We then look forward to the effort to reconcile the transportation bill with the Senate’s, and to ultimately agree upon a bill that will be enacted into law.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.