With the devastation in Puerto Rico and Florida fresh in our minds, it’s clear America sits at a crossroads as it tries to fight the impacts of climate change. The New York League of Conservation Voters thinks it’s worth taking a closer look at a positive recent example of how New York State and the federal government are striving for a greener and healthier planet.
During the past year, Congress passed and President Biden signed the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), two historic laws designed to give local and state governments, through a bidding process, access to tens of billions of dollars for infrastructure improvement and climate change investment.
When Biden signed the IIJA in November 2021, the White House hailed the $1.2 trillion law as a tool to “tackle the climate crisis, advance environmental justice and invest in communities that have too often been left behind.”
New York environmentalists and politicians are hailing a recent grant for the Hunts Point Market as a shining example of this.
In September, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Rep. Ritchie Torres and Mayor Eric Adams announced that the Hunts Point Market, which produces 25 percent of NYC’s produce and helps feed the entire NY metro area, would receive a $110 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for a total renovation and modernization of its sprawling facility in the Bronx. Among the changes designed to reduce pollution in the area by cutting carbon emissions: 1,000 diesel-powered refrigeration trailers will be replaced by an energy-efficient facility and the largest electric truck charging hub in the city will be installed. This is important because although Hunts Point Market is critically important to our food infrastructure, it is also an enormous source of air pollution that worsens public health in the communities surrounding it.
“These funds will help increase food security, meet growing food demands, maintain and produce new good-paying jobs, reduce diesel emissions in an area with a sky-high asthma rate, and so much more,” said Sen. Schumer.
The Hunts Point project is one of many the IIJA will fund nationwide. The act will provide $550 billion over five years for new infrastructure improvement. This includes funds for clean-fuel mass transit options, zero-emission school buses, a national network of EV charging stations and a variety of provisions to reduce water pollution and provide Americans with cleaner drinking water.
Meanwhile, the IRA is slated to provide $369 billion in climate-related solutions, including projects to enhance environmental justice. The stated goal is to reduce polluting emissions 40 percent by 2030.
As we know, through the bidding process, billions of dollars will be available to help local and state governments fight the impact of global warming and to improve environmental conditions in disadvantaged communities. The Biden administration has indicated that 40 percent of the benefits for climate and clean energy investments, through the IRA, will be for disadvantaged communities.
With these two historic laws, the time is ripe for environmental change and investment on a grand scale. With billions of dollars available in federal funding, NYLCV encourages local and state politicians to work closely with environmental organizations and New York’s elected officials in Washington to identify appropriate projects in their community and apply for the aid needed to safeguard their communities.
In the future, we hope to see many more projects like Hunts Point spread around the state.