Senator explains how bipartisan infrastructure plan benefits Louisiana

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WASHINGTON D.C. (BRPROUD) – Debate has officially begun in the Senate on the bipartisan trillion dollar infrastructure plan. Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy has been a leader of the group and is pushing to bring needed improvements to the state’s aging infrastructure.

After weeks of negotiations, the Senate is now considering the $550 billion in new spending for infrastructure. For Louisiana, it would bring $6 billion to address the over 1,600 bridges and 3,400 miles of roads. There is also money set for coastal restoration and improvement in drinking water.

The plan will be paid for with the reallocation of COVID relief aid, unemployment insurance and projected economic growth.

“Some of the pay-fors the [Congressional Budget Office] is going to say yep you paid for. Another half of it is going to be things that CBO doesn’t give us credit for but common sense tells you it is a pay-for,” Sen. Cassidy said.

This package is greatly scaled back from President Joe Biden’s original $3.5 trillion spending plan. Sen. Cassidy cited a study by the University of Pennsylvania stating their package won’t add to inflation. Most of the funding will be doled out over several years.

“…Because this is a multi-decade process they predict that this actually ultimately decreases the deficit and increases our economic growth and that makes sense to me too,” Sen. Cassidy said.

He is confident with the places the team has chosen for the payments to come from it is more than paid for. The bipartisan team already is seeing further support on both sides of the aisle.

“I would say it is a group of folks who have learned to trust each other, who are going to work hard, fight for their own perspective but ultimately seek to have that common ground in which all benefit,” Sen. Cassidy said.

Amendments could be still added and the team is open to it if it betters the 700 page bill. In a press release, Sen. Cassidy laid out how Louisiana will benefit from the different allocations of funding under the bill:

  • Eliminates federal red-tape by reforming the permitting process to speed construction projects: Builds on the Federal Permitting Council’s efforts to shorten the government approval process for large infrastructure projects by bringing relevant agencies together to reduce inefficiencies.
  • $40 Billion for bridges: As a state, Louisiana has the third most bridge deck area in poor condition. This funding will rebuild Louisiana’s bridges, many of which are rated as poor or structurally deficient. 
  • Invests in Louisiana’s Airports: The bill includes $25 billion for airport improvement projects such as expansions, installations, assisting with planning, rebuilding runways, improving lighting, and air navigation facilities throughout the state.
  • $9.55 Billion for Ports and Waterways: This will benefit numerous Louisiana Ports and Waterways such as the Port of Calcasieu, Port Fourchon, Port of New Orleans, Port of Baton Rouge, Port of South Louisiana, Port of Plaquemines, and J. Bennett Johnston Waterway.
  • $3.2 Billion for the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America Grant Program: This program supports crucial highway and rail projects.
  • $65 Billion for Broadband: This funding will expand internet access to Louisiana’s rural and low-income communities.
  • $500 Million for the STORM Act: This provides grants to establish a revolving fund to provide mitigation assistance to reduce risks from disasters and natural hazards. Such funds would provide funding assistance to local governments in States, including Louisiana, to carry out projects to reduce disaster risks for homeowners, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and communities in order to decrease the loss of life and property, the cost of insurance claims, and federal disaster payments.
  • $7.5 Billion for Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity Grants: These grants support transportation projects of local and regional significance.
  • $3.5 Billion for Flood Mitigation Assistance grants: These grants are used for projects that reduce or eliminate the risk of repetitive flood damage to buildings insured by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). In the last fiscal year, one-third of applications for this program came from Louisiana.
  • $16.9 Billion for Army Corps of Engineers infrastructure priorities: This includes $2.55 billion for construction of Coastal Storm Risk Management and Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction projects specifically targeting states such as Louisiana that have been impacted by federally declared disasters over the last six years. Additional Louisiana projects that will benefit from these dollars include the Southwest Coastal Louisiana and Morganza to the Gulf Projects and $109 million for Louisiana Corps Federal projects to dredge and repair damages caused by Hurricanes Laura, Delta, and Zeta. There’s $808 million for Mississippi Rivers and Tributaries and $251 million for Flood and Coastal Emergencies, which directly benefit Louisiana. 
  • $53 Million for Lake Pontchartrain: Lake Pontchartrain will receive this funding over five years to support local restoration efforts.
  • $2.25 Billion for the Port Infrastructure Development Program: This grant program provides funding to improve port facilities, a top priority for Louisiana ports.
  • $491 Million for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Community Based Restoration Program: This funding invests in coastal resiliency projects through a habitat restoration program that helps protect the safety and well-being of coastal communities, like those in Louisiana, by buffering shorelines from erosion, reducing flooding, and removing potentially hazardous structures.
  • $492 Million for NOAA National Coastal Resilience Fund: This funding will improve the resilience of coastal communities to flooding by restoring or expanding natural ecosystems while enhancing fish and wildlife habitats and increasing protection for communities from coastal hazards.
  • $492 Million for NOAA Flood Mapping, Observations, and Modeling: This funding will update and improve mapping and modeling to get a better picture of the risk of flooding in Louisiana and throughout the country. 
  • $1 Billion for Building Resilient Infrastructures and Communities grants: These grants provide funding for pre-disaster mitigation funding for natural disasters including flooding.
  • $5.1 Billion for the SCALE Act: The largest government investment in carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technology. This includes $2.1 billion for a CO2 Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program to provide flexible, low-interest loans for CO2 transport infrastructure projects and grants for initial excess capacity on new infrastructure to facility future growth; $2.5 billion to expand the DOE’s Carbon Storage Validation and Testing program to include large-scale commercialization of new or expanded carbon sequestration projects; $300 million in grants to procure and use products derived from captured carbon oxides; $100 million for front-end engineering and design for carbon dioxide transport infrastructure; and $75 million for states to establish Class VI permitting programs to ensure rigorous and expedited CO2 geologic storage site permitting
  • $3.5 Billion for weatherization grants for low-income people and communities.
  • $4.67 Billion for orphan well remediation.
  • $53 Million for Gulf of Mexico ecosystem restoration.
  • $60 Million for States in the Mississippi River and Ohio River Basins to support states’ Nutrient Reduction Strategies and fight hypoxia.
  • Expansion of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to permit offshore energy storage. This provides flexibility to develop energy storage in future energy development off-shore in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Cleaning Up Contaminated Sites: This bill provides $3.5 billion for cleanup at Superfund sites and an increase in spending for remediation with a focus on projects of the greatest hazard to human health. Louisiana currently has 27 sites on the National Priorities List. 
  • $1.5 Billion for Brownfields Grants: This funding will clean up and reinvest in properties complicated by the presence of hazardous substances or contaminants and prioritized by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. 
  • $8 Billion for Hydrogen Hubs: This creates regional clean hydrogen hubs to demonstrate the production, processing, delivery, storage, and end-use of clean hydrogen. This program is tailor made for Louisiana’s industry, existing infrastructure, and energy sector.
  • Geologic Carbon Sequestration on the Outer Continental Shelf: This allows the U.S. Department of the Interior to permit geologic carbon sequestration on the outer Continental Shelf and will unlock new industries for Louisiana and ensure the ability to store carbon dioxide.
  • $9.04 Billion for Demonstration Projects to support the development of key energy technologies including advanced nuclear reactors, carbon capture, critical minerals, energy storage, and industrial emissions infrastructure. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette recently received funding for a similar program.
  • $6 Billion for the Civil Nuclear Credit Program: This section provides the U.S. Department of Energy with the authority, in consultation with the heads of applicable Federal agencies, to establish a process to evaluate bids through an auction process and select certified nuclear reactors to be allocated credits. This ensures vital existing nuclear sources like those in Louisiana are kept online and provide reliable, resilient, and clean energy.
  • $8 Billion for Energy-Related Manufacturing: This expands American manufacturing of energy production equipment.
  • $3.5 Billion for Direct Air Capture Hubs for Carbon Removal: Develops regional direct air capture hubs to aid the capture of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This carves out a pathway for Louisiana to lead in carbon removal and decarbonization while maintaining and growing existing industries and infrastructure.
  • $2.13 Billion for Ecosystem Restoration and Resiliency Funding to restore the ecological health of Federal lands and waters and private lands. Working with state partners, like Louisiana, this funding will advance coastal restoration and flood mitigation efforts.

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