Shaheen Seeks Grants to Support Energy Efficient Infrastructure Projects

October 14, 2020 by Dan McCue
The approach to the Goethals Bridge in New York. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., is pushing to kick-start the creation of a new infrastructure grant program that would improve the energy efficiency of the U.S. transportation sector while boosting the nation’s competitiveness in the global marketplace.

A new bill sponsored by Shaheen — the Better Utilizing Innovative Low-Emission Development Strategies (BUILDS) Act — would create a competitive infrastructure grant program within the U.S. Department of Transportation to fund innovative projects that promote energy efficiency while meeting significant transportation needs.

“It’s long past time for bipartisan progress to repair our crumbling roads, rails and bridges,” Shaheen said in a written statement.

“The BUILDS Act is a common-sense proposal that invests in local transportation and infrastructure needs in both rural and urban communities while also reducing our carbon footprint,” she continued. “I urge members on both sides of the aisle to join me in this legislation to help address our aging infrastructure and incentivize our communities to pursue energy efficient solutions to build a safer, more sustainable future.”

The BUILDS Act would authorize $300 million annually to create an energy efficiency-focused national infrastructure investment initiative to modernize the nation’s transportation infrastructure and reduce harmful GHG emissions.

Specifically, the legislation would direct DOT to establish a competitive grant program to fund projects that:

  • Promote reductions in transportation energy use;
  • Accelerate the adoption of new and existing energy efficiency technologies for transportation applications; and
  • Increase the availability of energy efficient modes of transportation for passengers or freight.

Shaheen’s legislation would apply to a variety of transportation modes, but the program would encourage the use of technologies that reduce transportation energy use and improve traffic management and non-motorized modes of transportation.

Eligible applicants would include state, local and tribal governments as well as public entities with jurisdiction over, or expertise relating to, infrastructure in a region, including a transit agency. The legislation also calls for funding in a balanced way to address the needs of both urban and rural communities, ensuring funding (not less than 20%) is dedicated to advance projects in rural areas.

The legislation has been endorsed by a number of organizations, including: The American Society of Civil Engineers, Alliance to Save Energy, Union of Concerned Scientists and American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. 

Bill text of the legislation is available here.

A one page summary of the bill is available here.

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