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The Biden administration announced Wednesday that $14 billion from the bipartisan Infrastructure Law and other appropriations will go toward strengthening port and waterway supply chains. However, more of that $14 billion will be spent on “bolstering climate resilience” and “advancing environmental justice” than on ports and waterways.
A “Biden-Harris Administration Fact Sheet” provides details of where the $14 billion will end up. In 2022, the administration will focus on 500 projects across 52 states and territories, including:
The fact sheet announced that the Army Corps of Engineers will spend $4 billion on strengthening supply chains that will “expand capacity at key ports, allow passage of larger vessels, and further enhance the country’s ability to move goods.”
Specifically, the money spent on improving ports and waterways will replace locks that help cargo ships pass through places like the upper Ohio River. More than $470 million will also go toward completing construction of a new lock along the St. Mary’s River in Sault Saint Marie, Michigan. Biden will also invest $8 million in the Port of Long Beach, California, to “support design work to widen the port’s main channel, deepen the entrance channel, and build an approach channel and turning basin.” Another $69 million will help expand capacity at Norfolk Harbor in Virginia.
While the $4 billion price tag for improving the nation’s supply chain is a hefty amount of money, it’s not as much as the Biden administration will dedicate to “climate defense” and “environmental justice.” The administration announced that it will spend $5.5 billion to “better protect communities from climate change, and protect vital ecosystems and the people and businesses throughout the country that rely on them.”
Biden and Harris point to damaging storms, such as Hurricane Ida, that show our “need” to spend billions of dollars on “climate defense.” “Damage from extreme weather events and natural disasters, including those from Hurricane Ida, were estimated to cost the United States at least $141 billion in 2021, and is expected to increase significantly in the coming years,” the fact sheet stated.
What exactly does “defending the climate” and advancing “environmental justice” mean? According to Biden, it means something like protecting the Everglades from rising sea levels. An estimated $1.1 billion will go toward reducing excess water impacting the Everglades and minimizing water loss during dry seasons.
To advance “environmental justice” the administration will spend $163 million to restore the Cano Martin Pena urban tidal channel and surrounding areas in Puerto Rico. Another $40 million will go to the Espanola Valley, Rio Grande and Tributaries, New Mexico, “to restore and protect 958 acres of aquatic and riparian habitats.” And yet another $130 million will be spent for two new programs that “target the needs of economically-disadvantaged communities.”
“These key projects will strengthen the nation’s supply chain, provide significant new economic opportunities nationwide, and bolster our defenses against climate change,” the administration noted.