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Thank you for listening to Congressional Dish! 

Oct 11, 2021

Jen has been all over the internet lately telling the world that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework is a dumpster fire of a bill. In this episode, she backs that up by comparing the levels of investment for different kinds of infrastructure and examining the society changing effects the bill would have if it were to become law.

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Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD218: Minerals Are the New Oil

CD205: Nuclear Waste Storage Oil

CD073: Amtrak

Recommended Articles and Documents

Benjamin J. Hulac and Joseph Morton. October 7, 2021. “With GOP sidelined, Manchin steps up to defend fossil fuels.” Roll Call.

Connor Sheets, Robert J. Lopez, Rosanna Xia, and Adam Elmahrek. October 4, 2021. “Before O.C. oil spill, platform owner faced bankruptcy, history of regulatory problems.” The Los Angeles Times.

Donald Shaw. October 4, 2021. “Criticizing Joe Manchin’s Coal Conflicts is ‘Outrageous,’ Says Heitkamp.” Sludge.

Michael Gold. October 1, 2021. “Congestion Pricing Is Coming to New York. Everyone Has an Opinion.” The New York Times.

Utilities Middle East Staff. September 13, 2021. “World’s largest carbon capture and storage plant launched.” Utilities.

Adele Peters. September 8, 2021. “The first commercial carbon removal plant just opened in Iceland.” Fast Company.

Hiroko Tabuchi. August 16, 2021. “For Many, Hydrogen Is the Fuel of the Future. New Research Raises Doubts.” The New York Times.

Robert W. Haworth and Mark Z. Jacobson. August 12, 2021. “How green is blue hydrogen?.” Energy Science & Engineering.

Emily Cochrane. August 10, 2021. “Senate Passes $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill, Handing Biden a Bipartisan Win.” The New York Times.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. June 3, 2021. “2020 Fatality Data Show Increased Traffic Fatalities During Pandemic.” U.S. Department of Transportation.

Nation Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). May 19, 2021. “What We Know—and Do Not Know—About Achieving a National-Scale 100% Renewable Electric Grid .”

Michael Barnard. May 3, 2021. “Small Modular Nuclear Reactors Are Mostly Bad Policy.” CleanTechnica.

Hiroko Tabuchi. April 24, 2021. “Halting the Vast Release of Methane Is Critical for Climate, U.N. Says.” The New York Times.

Grist Creative. April 15, 2021. “How direct air capture works (and why it’s important)” Grist.

American Society of Civil Engineers. 2021. “Bridges.” 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.

Open Secrets. “Sen. Joe Manchin - West Virginia - Top Industries Contributing 2015-2020.”

Savannah Keaton. December 30, 2020. “Can Fuel Cell Vehicles Explode Like ‘Hydrogen Bombs on Wheels’?” Motor Biscuit.
Dale K. DuPont. August 6, 2020. “First all-electric ferry in U.S. reaches milestone.” WorkBoat.

Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser. 2020. “CO2 and Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” Our World in Data.

Jeff Butler. January 27, 2019. “Norway leads an electric ferry revolution.”

Our World in Data. Annual CO2 Emissions, 2019.

Hydrogen Council. 2019. Frequently Asked Questions.

Mark Z. Jacobson et al. September 6, 2017. “100% Clean and Renewable Wind, Water, and Sunlight All-Sector Energy Roadmaps for 139 Countries of the World.” Joule.

Kendra Pierre-Louis. August 25, 2017. “Almost every country in the world can power itself with renewable energy.” Popular Science.

Chuck Squatriglia. May 12, 2008. “Hydrogen Cars Won't Make a Difference for 40 Years.” Wired.

Renewable Energy World. April 22, 2004. “Schwarzenegger Unveils ‘Hydrogen Highways’ Plan.”

United States Department of Energy. February 2002. A National Vision of America’s Transition to a Hydrogen Economy -- to 2030 and Beyond.

The Bill

H.R. 3684: Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

August 10, 2021 Senate Vote Breakdown
July 1, 2021 House Vote Breakdown

Jen's Highlighted Version

Bill Outline



Subtitle A - Authorizations and Programs

Sec. 11101: Authorization of Appropriations

  • Authorizes appropriations for Federal-Aid for highways at between $52 billion and $56 billion per year through fiscal year 2026.

Sec. 11117: Toll Roads, Bridges, Tunnels, and Ferries

  • Authorizes the government to pay up to 85% of the costs of replacing or retrofitting a diesel fuel ferry vessel until the end of fiscal year 2025.

Sec. 11118: Bridge Investment Program

  • Authorizes between $600 million and $700 million per year through 2026 (from the Highway Trust Fund) for repairs to bridges
  • If a Federal agency wants grant money to repair a Federally owned bridge, it "shall" consider selling off that asset to the State or local government.

Sec. 11119: Safe Routes to School

  • Creates a new program to improve the ability of children to walk and ride their bikes to school by funding projects including sidewalk improvements, speed reduction improvements, crosswalk improvements, bike parking, and traffic diversions away from schools.
  • Up to 30% of the money can be used for public awareness campaigns, media relations, education, and staffing.
  • No additional funding is provided. It will be funded with existing funds for "administrative expenses."

Sec. 11121: Construction of Ferry Boats and Ferry Terminal Facilities

  • Authorizes between $110 million and $118 million per year through 2026 (from the Highway Trust Fund) to construct ferry boats and ferry terminals.

Subtitle D - Climate Change

Sec. 11401: Grants for Charging and Fueling Infrastructure

  • Creates a new grant program with $15 million maximum per grant for governments to build public charging infrastructure for vehicles fueled with electricity, hydrogen, propane, and "natural" gas.
    • The construction of the projects can be contracted out to private companies.

Sec. 11402: Reduction of Truck Emissions at Port Facilities

  • Establishes a program to study and test projects that would reduce emissions.

Sec. 11403: Carbon Reduction Program

  • Allows, but does not require, the Transportation Secretary to use money for projects related to traffic monitoring, public transportation, trails for pedestrians and bicyclists, congestion management technologies, vehicle-to-infrastructure communications technologies, energy efficient street lighting, congestion pricing to shift transportation demand to non-peak hours, electronic toll collection, installing public chargers for electric, hydrogen, propane, and gas powered vehicles.

Sec. 11404: Congestion Relief Program

  • Creates a grant program, funded at a minimum of $10 million per grant, for projects aimed at reducing highway congestion. Eligible projects include congestion management systems, fees for entering cities, deployment of toll lanes, parking fees, and congestion pricing, operating commuter buses and vans, and carpool encouragement programs.
  • Buses, transit, and paratransit vehicles "shall" be allowed to use toll lanes "at a discount rate or without charge."

Sec. 11405: Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) Program

  • Establishes the "PROTECT program", which provides grants for projects to protect some current infrastructure from extreme weather events and climate related changes.
  • Types of grants include grants for "at-risk coastal infrastructure" which specifies that only "non-rail infrastructure is eligible" (such as highways, roads, pedestrian walkways, bike lanes, etc.)

Sec. 11406: Healthy Streets Program

  • Establishes a grant program to install reflective pavement and to expand tree cover in order to mitigate urban heat islands, improve air quality, and reduce stormwater run-off and flood risks.
  • Caps each grant at $15 million


Sec. 13001: Strategic Innovation for Revenue Collection

  • Provides grants for pilot projects to test our acceptance of user-based fee collections and their effects on different income groups and people from urban and rural areas. They will test the use of private companies to collect the data and fees.

Sec. 13002: National Motor Vehicle Per-mile User Fee Pilot

  • Creates a pilot program to test a national motor vehicle per-mile user fee.



Sec. 21201: National Infrastructure Project Assistance

  • Authorizes $2 billion total per year until 2026 on projects that cost at least $100 million that include highway, bridge, freight rail, passenger rail, and public transportation projects.
  • Authorizes $1.5 billion total per year until 2026 (which will expire after 3 years) for grants in amount between $1 million and $25 million for projects that include highway, bridge, public transportation, passenger and freight rail, port infrastructure, surface transportation at airports, and more.


Subtitle A - Authorization of Appropriations

Sec. 22101: Grants to Amtrak

  • Authorizes appropriations for Amtrak in the Northeast Corridor at between $1.1 billion and $1.57 billion per year through 2026.
  • Authorizes appropriations for Amtrak in the National Network at between $2.2 billion and $3 billion per year through 2026.

Subtitle B - Amtrak Reforms

Sec. 22201: Amtrak Findings, Mission, and Goals

  • Changes the goal of cooperation between Amtrak, governments, & other rail carriers from "to achieve a performance level sufficient to justify expending public money" to "in order to meet the intercity passenger rail needs of the United States" and expands the service areas beyond "urban" locations.
  • Changes the goals of Amtrak to include "improving its contracts with rail carriers over whose tracks Amtrak operates."

Sec. 22208: Passenger Experience Enhancement

  • Food and beverage service: Amtrak will establish a working group...

Sec. 22212: Enhancing Cross Border Service

  • Amtrak must submit a report...

Sec. 22213: Creating Quality Jobs

  • Amtrak will not be allowed to privatize the jobs previously performed by laid off union workers.

Sec. 22214: Amtrak Daily Long Distance Study

  • Amtrak would study bringing back long distance rail routes that were discontinued.

Subtitle C - Intercity Passenger Rail Policy

Sec. 22304: Restoration and Enhancement Grants

  • Extends the amount of time the government will pay the operating costs of Amtrak or "any rail carrier" that provides passenger rail service from 3 years to 6 years, and pays higher percentages of the the costs.

Sec. 22305: Railroad Crossing Elimination Program

  • Creates a program to eliminate highway-rail crossings where vehicles are frequently stopped by trains.
  • Authorizes the construction on tunnels and bridges.

Sec. 22306: Interstate Rail Compacts Authorizes up to 10 grants per year valued at a maximum of $ million each to plan and promote new Amtrak routes

Sec. 22308: Corridor Identification and Development Program

  • The Secretary of Transportation will create a program for public entities to plan for expanded intercity passenger rail corridors, operated by Amtrak or private companies.
  • When developing plans for corridors, the Secretary has to "consult" with "host railroads for the proposed corridor"

Subtitle D - Rail Safety

Sec. 22404: Blocked Crossing Portal

  • The Administration of the Federal Railroad Administration would establish a "3 year blocked crossing portal" which would collect information about blocked crossing by trains from the public and first responders and provide every person submitting the complaint the contact information of the "relevant railroad" and would "encourage" them to complain to them too.
  • Information collected would NOT be allowed to be used for any regulatory or enforcement purposes.

Sec. 22406: Emergency Lighting

  • The Secretary of Transportation will have to issue a rule requiring that all carriers that transport human passengers have an emergency lighting system that turns on when there is a power failure.

Sec. 22409: Positive Train Control Study

  • The Comptroller General will conduct a study to determine the annual operation and maintenance costs for positive train control.

Sec. 22423: High-Speed Train Noise Emissions

  • Allows, but does not require, the Secretary of Transportation to create regulations governing the noise levels of trains that exceed 160 mph.

Sec. 22425: Requirements for Railroad Freight Cars Placed into Service in the United States

  • Effective 3 years after the regulations are complete (maximum 5 years after this becomes law), freight cars will be prohibited from operating within the United States if more than 15% of it is manufactured in "a country of concern" or state-owned facilities.
  • The Secretary of Transportation can assess fines between $100,000 and $250,000 per freight car. A company that has been found in violation 3 times can be kicked out of the United State's transportation system until they are in compliance and have paid all their fines in full.

Sec. 22427: Controlled Substances Testing for Mechanical Employees

  • 180 days after this becomes law, all railroad mechanics will be subject to drug testing, which can be conducted at random.


Sec. 30017: Authorizations

  • Authorizes between $13.3 billion and $14.7 billion per year to be appropriated for transit grants.



Sec. 40101: Preventing Outages and Enhancing The Resilience of the Electric Grid

  • Creates a $5 billion grant distribution program to electric grid operators, electricity storage operations, electricity generators, transmission owners and operators, distribution suppliers, fuels suppliers, and other entities chosen by the Secretary of Energy.
  • The grants need to be used to reduce the risk that power lines will cause wildfires.
  • States have to match 15%. The company receiving the grant has to match it by 100% (small utilities only have to match 1/3 of the grant.)
  • Grant money be used for micro-grids and battery-storage in addition to obvious power line protection measures.
  • Grant money can not be used to construct a new electricity generating facility, a large-scale battery facility that is not used to prevent "disruptive events", or cybersecurity.
  • The companies are allowed to charge customers for parts of their projects that are not paid for with grant money (so they have to match the grant with their customer's money).

Sec. 40112: Demonstration of Electric Vehicle Battery Second-Life Applications for Grid Services

  • Creates a demonstration project to show utility companies that electric car batteries can be used to stabilize the grid and reduce peak loads of homes and businesses.
  • The demonstration project must include a facility that "could particularly benefit" such as a multi-family housing building, a senior care facility, or community health center.


Sec. 40201: Earth Mapping Resources Initiative

  • The US Geological Survey will get $320 million and ten years to map "all of the recoverable critical minerals."

Sec. 40204: USGS Energy and Minerals Research Facility

  • Authorizes $167 million to construct a new facility for energy and minerals research.
  • The facility can be on land leased to the government for 99 years by "an academic partner."
  • Requires the USGS to retain ownership of the facility.

Sec. 40205: Rare Earth Elements Demonstration Facility

  • Authorizes $140 million to build a rare earth element extractions and separation facility and refinery.
  • Does NOT require the government to retain ownership of the facility.


Subtitle A - Carbon Capture, Utilization, Storage, and Transportation Infrastructure

Sec. 40304: Carbon Dioxide Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation

  • Authorizes $600 million for 2022 and 2023 and $300 million for each year between 2024 and 2026 for grants and loan guarantees for projects for transporting captured carbon dioxide.
  • Each project has to cost more than $100 million and the government can pay up to 80% of the costs.
  • If the project is financed with a loan, the company will have 35 years to pay it back, with fees and interest. Loans can be issued via private banks with guarantees provided by the government.

Sec. 40305: Carbon Storage Validation and Testing

  • Creates a new program for funding new or expanded large-scale carbon sequestration projects.
  • Authorizes $2.5 billion through 2026.

Sec. 40308: Carbon Removal

  • Creates a new program for grants or contracts for projects to that will form "4 regional direct air capture hubs" that will each be able to capture 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.
  • Authorizes $3.5 billion per year through 2026.

Subtitle B - Hydrogen Research and Development

Sec. 40313: Clean Hydrogen Research and Development Program

  • Changes a goal of an existing research and development plan for hydrogen fuels (created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005) from enhancing sources of renewable fuels and biofuels for hydrogen production to enhancing those sources and fossil fuels with carbon capture and nuclear energy.
  • Expands the activities of this program to include using hydrogen for power generation, industrial processes including steelmaking, cement, chemical feestocks, and heat production.
  • They intend to transition natural gas pipelines to hydrogen pipelines.
  • They intend for hydrogen to be used for all kinds of vehicles, rail transport, aviation, and maritime transportation.

Sec. 40314: Additional Clean Hydrogen Programs

  • Creates a new program to create "4 regional clean hydrogen hubs" for production, processing, delivery, storage, and end-use of "clean hydrogen."
  • At least one regional hub is required to demonstrate the production of "clean hydrogen from fossil fuels."
  • At least one regional hub is required to demonstrate the production of "clean hydrogen from renewable energy."
  • At least one regional hub is required to demonstrate the production of "clean hydrogen from nuclear energy."
  • The four hubs will each demonstrate a different use: Electric power generation, industrial sector uses, residential and commercial heating, and transportation.
  • Requires the development of a strategy "to facilitate widespread production, processing, storage, and use of clean hydrogen", which will include a focus on production using coal.
    The hydrogen hubs should "leverage natural gas to the maximum extent practicable."
  • Creates a new program to commercialize the production of hydrogen by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.
  • The overall goal is to identify barriers, pathways, and policy needs to "transition to a clean hydrogen economy."
    Authorizes $9.5 billion through 2026.

Sec. 40315: Clean Hydrogen Production Qualifications

  • Develops a standard for the term "clean hydrogen" which has a carbon intensity equal to or less than 2 kilograms of carbon dioxide-equivalent produced at the site of production per kilogram of hydrogen produced."

Subtitle C - Nuclear Energy Infrastructure

Sec. 40323: Civil Nuclear Credit Program

  • Creates a program, authorized to be funded with $6 billion per year through 2026, that will provide credit from the government to nuclear reactors that are projected to shut down because they are economically failing.

Subtitle D - Hydropower

Sec. 40331: Hydroelectric Production Incentives

  • Authorizes a one-time appropriation of $125 million for fiscal year 2022.

Sec. 40332: Hydroelectric Efficiency Improvement Incentives

  • Authorizes a one-time appropriation of $75 million for fiscal year 2022.

Sec. 40333: Maintaining and Enhancing Hydroelectricity Incentives

  • Authorizes a one-time appropriations of $553 million for repairs and improvements to dams constructed before 1920. The government will pay a maximum of 30% of the project costs, capped at $5 million each.

Sec. 40334: Pumped Storage Hydropower Wind and Solar Integration and System Reliability Initiative

  • Authorizes $2 million per year through 2026 to pay 50% or less of the costs of a demonstration project to test the ability of a pumped storage hydropower project to facilitate the long duration storage of at least 1,000 megawatts of intermittent renewable electricity.

Subtitle E - Miscellaneous

Sec. 40342: Clean Energy Demonstration Program on Current and Former Mine Land

  • Creates a new program, authorized to be funded with $500 million through 2026, to demonstrate the technical and economic viability of putting clean energy projects on former mine land. There will be a maximum of 5 projects and 2 of them have to be solar.
  • Defines a "clean energy project" to include "fossil-fueled electricity generation with carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration."


Sec. 41001: Energy Storage Demonstration Projects

  • Authorizes $505 million through2025 for energy storage demonstration projects.
    Sec. 41002: Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program
  • Authorizes between $281 million and $824 million per year through 2027 for advanced nuclear reactor demonstration projects.

Sec. 41004: Carbon Capture Demonstration and Pilot Programs

  • Authorizes between $700 million and $1.3 billion through2025 for advanced nuclear reactor demonstration projects.

Sec. 41007: Renewable Energy Projects

  • Authorizes $84 million through 2025 for geothermal energy projects.
  • Authorizes $100 million through 2025 for wind energy projects.
    • There is a clarification that this is definitely NOT in addition to amounts wind gets from another fund.
  • Authorizes $80 million through 2025 for solar energy projects.








Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)