Energy Secretary on what the infrastructure bill means for rural America

The President and bipartisan negotiators have agreed to a $550 billion dollar investment in infrastructure. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm discusses what the bill could include for rural America.

After months of negotiations, lawmakers have reached a compromise on what is being called a historical infrastructure deal. The largest part of the bill would invest $110 billion dollars in roads and bridges.

Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm says that another important component is the $65 billion dollars for broadband development.

“The notion that a third of rural America doesn’t even have high speed internet, we’re going to lay the fiber so that everybody can have access. It seems crazy to me that some families have to drive their kids to McDonald’s parking lot to capture the WiFi during this time when people are being homeschooled. It’s just wrong in America, so that is an important provision,” the Secretary explains.

She says that rural communities that have powered the nation for the past century, with coal production and manufacturing should also be part of the solution as we move towards a cleaner economy.

According to Granholm, “The President has created a working group on coal and power plant communities. So the, what we want to do is to direct investments into communities like that so that they can see the benefit of what the future would be for them. We also want to make sure that those communities that empowered us in the past are helping to manufacture the products that will power us in the future, as well.”

The bill also includes investments for carbon capture, hydrogen power, and upgrades to the power grid.

Secretary Granholm says that the administration is looking into ways for farmers to benefit from those upgrades to the transmission system.

“There’s a real interest by many in seeing if there is a way, you know, of course with permission, to underground transmission wires, and then, you know, by going deep, and in a, in a channel, and then allowing ag just to, you know, farm over the top and you don’t even know it’s there but you get compensated for having that across your land,” she states.

On the transportation side, $7.5 billion dollars will go to electric vehicle infrastructure, but Granholm says that the biofuels industry will not be left behind.

“There’s some areas that are hard to decarbonize. I mean, when you talk about semi trucks, when you talk about planes, ships, etc. There’s going to be a huge need for biofuels for those because they’re denser-- their energy is denser than what we have right now and certainly in the technology that exists,” she adds. “So, what we want to do is to really foster support for biofuels for those sectors.”

She says that the second half of the President’s infrastructure goals, which will be run through the reconciliation process, include a production tax credit for biofuel refiners.

For the full interview click HERE