As Senate Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passes, what does this mean for Colorado?

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., updates reporters on the infrastructure negotiations between Republicans and Democrats, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, July 28, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.– The U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Tuesday, Aug. 10. But what does this mean for the state of Colorado?

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet released a statement celebrating its passing:

“Over the last several years, the American people have lost faith in the Senate’s ability to come together and accomplish anything meaningful for them. Today, for the first time in a long time, we made a historic investment to build 21st century infrastructure and create good-paying jobs.

“But we need to do more to invest in the Colorado families, workers, and kids that traditionally have been an afterthought in Washington. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build an economy that works for everyone and address our biggest challenges, like economic inequality, the threat of climate change, and a rising China.”

Senator Bennet led several initiatives as part of the IIJA, including the following:

  • The Bennet-Hoeven amendment to formally authorize the United States Department of Agriculture’s Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership Initiative. 
  • The largest ever single federal broadband investment, consistent with Bennet’s bipartisan BRIDGE Act that he introduced with Maine U.S. Senator Angus King and Ohio U.S. Senator Rob Portman in 2021. 
  • $300 million over five years for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) to address an estimated backlog of $200 million.
  • The Carbon Capture Improvement Act, legislation Senator Bennet and Senator Portman introduced earlier this year, which will make it easier for power plants and industrial facilities to finance the purchase and installation of carbon capture, utilization, and storage equipment, as well as direct air capture projects through tax-exempt private activity bonds.
  • Robust funding for water infrastructure for Tribal communities, consistent with Bennet’s Tribal Access to Clean Water Act with New Mexico U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, Colorado U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper and Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren
  • Funding for western water infrastructure
  • Senator Bennet and Senator Portman’s Automatic Relief for Taxpayers Affected by Major Disasters and Critical Events Act to amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow the Secretary of the Treasury to extend the tax filing deadline for all taxpayers affected by federally declared disasters, national emergencies, terrorist or military action.
  • $4.7 billion for programs to plug, remediate, and reclaim orphaned wells on federal, state, and tribal lands as part of the Oil and Gas Bonding Reform and Orphaned Well Remediation Act 
  • Senator Bennet’s Enhancing State Energy Security Planning and Emergency Preparedness Act and the Enhancing Grid Security through Public-Private Partnerships Act, legislation Bennet introduced to protect the energy grid from cyber-attacks. 
  • An extension of the Secure Rural Schools program through 2023.
  • Authorization for the Department of Transportation to return $28.9 million, plus interest, for a deposit that the Regional Transportation District made to secure a federal loan to redevelop Denver’s Union Station

This means that Colorado will receive $3.7 billion for highway projects, $225 million for bridge replacements and repairs, $917 million to improve public transportation, $57 million to support the expansion of an electric vehicle charging network across Colorado and a minimum of $100 million to provide broadband service across Colorado.

Speaker Alec Garnett and Majority Leader Daneya Esgar released statements after receiving word about the infrastructure bill.

Speaker Garnett said, “I’m heartened to see Washington politicians putting partisanship aside to make a much-needed investment in our country’s infrastructure. The bill championed by President Biden and passed by the Senate today will direct billions of dollars toward necessary improvements to our roads, bridges, rail, public transit, the electric grid, water systems, and broadband. The work we did at the state level this year, like passing SB-260, will allow Colorado to quickly and sustainably capitalize on this funding. I will continue to monitor the progress of this bill and look forward to its final passage.”

Majority Leader Esgar said, ““Today’s bipartisan bill passage is a win that every Coloradan can celebrate. This historic investment in American infrastructure will create jobs, modernize our country’s transportation and keep us better connected. I’m particularly excited to see this bill direct robust funding toward passenger rail, bringing us one big step closer to making projects like Front Range Rail a reality.”

Marginalized groups within the state of Colorado are excited to see what this new act will do within their communities.

Ean Tafoya, the state director of GreenLatinos, said that while the bill is a strong start, there is still a long way to go and the timeframe is critical.

“Colorado Latino/a/x communities are often among the first communities disproportionately affected by policies, positions, and politics that leave important lives hanging in the balance..Superfund sites, lead pipes, lack of access to clean transportation, methane pollution from fracking the Front Range, and so much more are all things we face when we wake up and have for many years,” Tafoya said.

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