June 08, 2021

How the INVEST in America Act Tackles Climate Change and Puts the U.S. on a Path Toward a Zero-Emission Future

The transportation sector is the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States

Washington, DC – Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) highlighted provisions of the newly-introduced surface transportation bill that would make landmark investments to tackle the climate crisis and take bold steps to build the clean transportation sector of the future. On Wednesday, the committee will consider the INVEST in America Act, a five-year, $547 billion surface transportation bill that will create jobs rebuilding and re-imagining federal investments in America’s roads, bridges, transit, and rail.

“When faced with the existential threat of nuclear war with the Soviet Union, the United States marshalled its resources and ingenuity to create the National Defense Highway System, creating the backbone of the current interstate system. Today, we face an existential threat of a different kind: a changing climate that threatens our communities, our health, our economy, and our way of life,” Chair Peter DeFazio said. “That is exactly why we need a game-changing approach to how we move people and goods in this country, and to start cutting carbon pollution from the transportation sector, the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The INVEST in America Act is one step of many that we must take to bolster more climate-friendly modes of transportation now, so that we leave a better planet for future generations while creating good-paying jobs in the clean transportation sector.”

Specifically, the INVEST in America Act would tackle climate change in the following ways:

  • Creates a new carbon pollution reduction apportionment program, investing $8.3 billion in highway, transit, and rail projects that will reduce greenhouse gases, and holds states accountable for their performance by measuring annual progress and requiring low-performing states to dedicate additional resources toward reducing carbon pollution.
  • Establishes a new pre-disaster mitigation program, providing $6.25 billion to help states prepare for and mitigate the impacts of climate change and extreme weather, including through natural infrastructure.
  • Provides record investment in transit, dedicating $109 billion to support all modes of transit in urban, suburban, and rural communities. 
  • Invests $4 billion in electric vehicle charging and alternative fueling infrastructure along designated corridors, reducing range anxiety, and helping America shift to the next generation of clean vehicles. Requires each state to make a plan for filling charging gaps and make progress in meeting that plan.
  • Significantly increases support for pedestrian and bike infrastructure and complete streets, supporting zero-emission modes through almost $10 billion in dedicated investment via existing and new programs.
  • Reforms the largest highway construction program to emphasize state of good repair and eliminate policies that tilt the scales towards unneeded capacity expansions. In addition, it requires states to first consider operational improvements and transit when proposing additional capacity.
  • Establishes a new greenhouse gas performance measure to track states’ progress in reducing carbon pollution from our highway system.
  • Creates a locally-driven climate discretionary grant program, allowing communities to advance innovative solutions to reduce carbon pollution.
  • Establishes a new $3 billion program to reconnect economically-disadvantaged and underserved neighborhoods that have been divided by arterial highways and other infrastructure through retrofit, repurposing, or removal, if appropriate. Emphasizes projects that ensure inclusive economic development and environmental justice.
  • Makes the freight formula program fully multimodal and expands environmental considerations in freight planning.
  • Establishes a new green highway materials research, development, and deployment program focused on highway materials that will reduce or sequester greenhouse gas pollution generated during production and construction.
  • Invests over $4 billion in zero emission buses, greening our transit systems and improving air quality in our communities.
  • Overhauls federal design standards to support complete streets, helping pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders travel safely.
  • Increases funding and incentives for transit-oriented development, ensuring that more Americans have access to walkable and transit-supportive communities.
  • Requires consideration of pollution reduction and resilience through the planning process to ensure we’re building sustainably for the future.
  • Creates a new gridlock reduction program focused on operational improvements, travel demand management, and multi-modal solutions to urban traffic congestion.
  • Doubles funding for deploying innovative, green technologies, focusing on innovations that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the surface transportation system.
  • Provides a 500+ percent boost in funding compared to FAST Act levels for rail, allowing for critical investment in and expansion of an environmentally-friendly form of land-based transportation for freight and passengers.
  • Requires Amtrak to develop a strategy to become a net-zero carbon emissions transportation provider and achieve net-zero carbon emissions within the Northeast Corridor by 2035.
  • Establishes the Passenger Rail Improvement, Modernization, and Expansion (PRIME) grant program focused on the growth of intercity and high-speed passenger rail, with electrification and mitigation of environmental impacts as eligible activities under the program. Further provides preference in PRIME to projects that achieve environmental benefits such as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions or improvement in local air quality.
  • Directs the Secretary to sponsor a National Academies of Science assessment on the potential impacts of climate change on the national rail network.
  • Establishes a new university rail climate innovation competitive grant program focused on the research of low- and zero-emission rail technologies.
  • Requires the Secretary to prioritize projects that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions when awarding high-speed rail corridor planning and development assistance.

More information:

Click here for more information about the INVEST in America Act, including bill text, a section-by-section, and a fact sheet.