2008 marked the bicentennial of the Gallatin Plan, crafted by President Jefferson’s Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin, to develop the infrastructure needed by our fast-growing nation. This plan built on President Washington’s vision of connecting the interior settlements to the markets and ports of the East Coast with a network of roads and canals. 2008 also marked the centennial of the Roosevelt Plan (1908), which guided America’s infrastructure investments in the 19th and 20th centuries. These plans set the stage for two centuries of transportation advances, infrastructure investment and environmental protection. Today, we need a new plan to rebuil and reinvest in America.
One hundred years after the Gallatin Plan, President Theodore Roosevelt invited every state and territorial governor to join members of his Cabinet and Congress, professional organizations, and government bureaus in a National Conference at the White House to plan for the infrastructure needs for the 20th century. This conference laid the groundwork for many of the critical investments initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to jumpstart the nation’s recovery from the Great Depression.
A new national vision and plan is necessary to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
In the 110th Congress, Representative Blumenauer has introduced H.R. 5976, to establish a Commission on Rebuilding America for the 21st Century. This bill would create a commission of 17 members appointed by Congress, the Administration, and State and local governments. The commission will synthesize existing reports to identify challenges and needs; commence a thorough set of public hearings on infrastructure conducted in not fewer than 50 Congressional districts across the United States to ensure geographic and demographic representation; and articulate a national vision for infrastructure investments including specific recommendations and a set of model principles to inform future infrastructure investments.
Our country’s commitment to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions will require significant changes to our communities. The federal government can and should be a partner in this effort, through a variety of ways, including investing in transportation alternatives, providing incentives for affordable housing choices and better community design, and funding innovative pilot programs that add community value while reducing greenhouse gases. Congressman Blumenauer is introducing legislation to help communities address global warming through design and transportation improvements.
Our nation’s water infrastructure needs have grown while funding for clean water has declined. The overall federal government contribution to total clean water spending has shrunk from 78% in 1978 to 3% today. The GAO, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Congressional Budget Office, and the Water Infrastructure Network, have estimated that the nation faces a growing water infrastructure funding gap of between $300-500 billion between what is currently being spent and what must be spent over the next 20 years in order to upgrade our aging water infrastructure.
In order to meet the water infrastructure needs of our nation, Congressman Blumenauer is proposing draft legislation to create a Water Trust Fund. The mission of this trust fund is to provide a deficit-neutral, consistent and fire-walled source of revenue to states to support the replacement, repair, and rehabilitation of clean and drinking water infrastructure.
Read more on Congressman Blumenauer's Water Protection and Reinvestment Act.
The Superfund was designed in 1980 to provide money to cleanup sites where the responsible party was out of business or could not be identified. Before it expired in 1995, the money for the Superfund came through taxes on the polluters themselves. However, Congress has never reauthorized the tax, making the burden of funding cleanups of toxic waste sites fall on the shoulders of taxpaying Americans. It is time to make public health, not protection for polluters, a priority. With the reinstatement of the Superfund tax, the stable funds generated would ensure that cleanup efforts at large sites can be properly maintained, and the EPA would have more power to recover costs from liable parties in cleanups.
Why should the Superfund tax be reinstated?
Download Congressman Blumenauer's Superfund Reinvestment Act One Pager.