Investing In Infrastructure Can Create Jobs, Drive Economic Growth, And Protect Our Environment

05/17/2017 02:01 am ET Updated May 17, 2017
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With President Trump pledging to introduce a $1 trillion infrastructure plan and Senate Democrats releasing their own blueprint, one of the rare bipartisan areas of agreement these days is the need to improve America’s aging infrastructure.

Both sides of the aisle support infrastructure modernization because they keep hearing from their business-minded constituents that a 21st century economy should not be held back by infrastructure built by our great-grandparents. Nearly 80 percent of Americans in a recent CNN poll said they agree we need to invest more in infrastructure. The only thing respondents said they wanted more were tax cuts for the middle class.

As we mark Infrastructure Week, it’s time for the White House and Congress to embrace an infrastructure plan that boosts bottom lines, creates good jobs rebuilding America, and strengthens our economy while protecting our environment.

President Trump takes great pride in his career as a builder.

So he should be a champion for building an America that will help businesses transport goods across state lines safer and quicker.

He should be quick to understand that businesses choose to locate in cities that have efficient, low-carbon public transportation options their employees can rely on to get to work every morning.

And he should recognize the massive potential that large infrastructure projects have to create millions of new jobs all across our country.

The opportunities are all around us. Here are three:

· PUBLIC TRANSIT: While other countries have bullet trains and reliable regional and local transit, America’s public transportation system is an ugly mess. We now have an estimated $90 billion backlog for repair and rehabilitation in our roadways and transit networks. Investing in public transit creates construction and manufacturing jobs, helps employees get to work on time with fewer costs, and takes cars off our roads and their emissions out of our air.

· WATER: Each year, we waste trillions of gallons in water, because of leaky pipes, poor agriculture irrigation and an estimated 240,000 water main breaks across America. Silicon Valley investors and local farmers agree that water technology could be the next big thing – driving innovation and investments, creating jobs and putting a long-overdue stopper in our wasteful water systems – but only if America makes it an infrastructure priority.

· ENERGY: Solar, wind and other renewable energy sources have added more electricity on to our grid than any other source over the past several years. Today more people work in solar than work in oil, gas and coal – combined. Yet there’s a problem getting all the wind and solar we’re now generating in remote areas of states like Iowa, Oregon, and North Carolina to the nation’s population centers. Investing in our nation’s outdated electricity grid would create jobs, make our nation’s power supplies more secure, and also reduce our dependence on dirty fossil fuels.

As we’ve learned from the dramatic growth in clean energy, priming the pump with the right federal policies and investments can pay off in a major way when it comes to America’s infrastructure.

Thanks to the right market signals sent through policy actions like the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, the international Paris climate agreement, and Congress’s extension of tax incentives for wind and solar, clean energy companies have created more than 3 million jobs in every state in the country.

Of course like anything, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do infrastructure. As we’ve learned from putting freeways through urban neighborhoods or ignoring failing water systems in poor communities and low-lying areas, we need to make infrastructure improvements with an emphasis on both people and the environment.

With the right policies and investments, President Trump and Congress have the opportunity to ensure Americans improve our nation’s infrastructure in the right way ― a way that creates jobs, drives economic growth, and protects our environment.

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