Infrastructure bill passes House; a lot is included for conservation funding
After months of negotiations, the House passed the $1 trillion dollar infrastructure package. The Bipartisan Policy Center hosted a seminar to explain what is included for conservation and what is next on the agenda.
The bipartisan infrastructure deal includes $50 billion dollars to improve the resilience of American land and natural resources.
For Colorado Representative Joe Neguse, the USDA Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership will be a highlight for land management.
According to Neguse, “That can extend to reforestation, it can extend to clearing out some of the fuels that are in these particular areas that, you know, are providing a potential-- well could become very problematic, right, given the circumstances. So, also doing some wildlife habitat preservation work and some watershed mitigation and protection work. So, that program will be authorized as by virtue of the infrastructure bill.”
Quill Robinson, VP of Government Affairs for the American Conservation Coalition, says that the $40 billion dollar investment in broadband will also help advance precision ag and attract young people to careers on the farm.
“Something that I’ve actually heard with some of the farmers that we’re working with is that, as they’re trying to attract more young people into these more rural communities to be farmers to work on farms, that incorporating that elements of farmers and the agriculture industry being on the leading edge of addressing this important issue of climate change is actually something that’s really appealing to young people,” Robinson explains.
Up next, lawmakers will work on advancing the President’s Build Back Better agenda, which includes $90 billion for agriculture and forestry-- plus programs that can reduce wildfire risk.
“I think rural America Firewise really important program that goes to small cities and counties to better prepare for wildfires,” Neguse states. “So, grants that could really make a huge world of difference in the smaller communities that I represent that don’t have a tax base to support those kinds of investments.”
Robinson noted that the partisan process both infrastructure and reconciliation have been through and called on lawmakers to also focus on bipartisan legislation like the Growing Climate Solutions Act that would create a foundation for carbon markets.
“I think this infrastructure conversation has been really polarizing and the American people are pretty frustrated and confused, whichever side you fall on, but with the Growing Climate Solutions Act, we have a real opportunity to set a precedent for more bipartisan, sustainable, effective long-term climate policy,” he adds. “Ultimately, we need that, right. We can’t be flip-flopping back and forth from administration to administration next, you know, the next 30, 40 years.”
He says that the Houe Agriculture Committee plans to mark up the legislation soon, but so far has not added it to the schedule.