FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Contact: Jodi Hirsh, (412) 326-9832, email@example.com
President Biden’s Visit Highlights Benefits of Infrastructure Bill in Southwestern PA
Pittsburgh, PA — Throughout the summer and fall, ReImagine Appalachia worked with local residents, community organizations, and labor unions across Southwestern PA to secure the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, known officially as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The bill paves the way for the job creation necessary to revitalize the economy and rebuild manufacturing throughout the region.
“Today’s bridge collapse in Pittsburgh underscores how urgently the IIJA was needed to address our infrastructure needs – both to prevent future disasters and to improve existing infrastructure to ensure public safety. We also need to keep pushing for the Build Back Better Act, which contains additional measures to help our region adapt to the climate crisis and provides key supports for working families,” said Dana Kuhnline, Campaign Manager for ReImagine Appalachia.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a landmark bill and a key first step that will strengthen an historic revival of manufacturing in Pittsburgh and throughout Appalachia, adding tens of thousands of good paying, union jobs. As well as making overdue investments in traditional infrastructure such as roads and bridges and water and sewer systems, funding from the IIJA supports significant parts of the ReImagine Appalachia blueprint for a sustainable 21st century economy. The investments in the act will:
- improve the region’s transit systems,
- repair the damage from decades of extraction, including by reclaiming abandoned mine lands and capping orphaned oil and gas wells in the region,
- help the region achieve universal accessible, affordable broadband,
- modernize the grid with upgrades to electrical transmission systems and investments in smart metering and electrical vehicle infrastructure, and
- promote energy efficiency in homes and at businesses.
That the IIJA will create more 80,000 jobs in the ReImagine Appalachia footprint (PA, WV, OH, and KY), counting direct jobs on infrastructure projects and supply chain jobs (but not counting consumer jobs created when workers and businesses linked with direct and supply jobs spend their wages and profits). This is roughly 10% of the national jobs that the Economic Policy Institute estimates will be created, our region’s share of the national population. A big share of thes jobs will be blue-collar construction trades and manufacturing jobs. Supported by Biden Administration policies and IIJA provisions that support decent (prevailing) wages and union rights, advocates are now working to ensure that the jobs created with this funding are good, family sustaining jobs.
However, the infrastructure bill is only part of the solution for the region.
Passage of the Build Back Better Act is critical for Appalachia. Local communities need federal funding to create local ownership and shared prosperity. Communities in this region are struggling, especially with the loss of funding for critical programs that expired at the end of the year.
“Congress has a responsibility to ensure that the communities across Appalachia that have powered our nation for generations are not left behind,” said Amanda Woodrum of Policy Matters Ohio, co-director of ReImagine Appalachia. “This region has a chance to benefit our working people in ways that it never fully succeeded in doing during more than a century of coal-dominated fossil fuel extraction. We cannot afford to squander this opportunity to make our communities healthier, create a better future for our children, and put people to work in union jobs with benefits and wages high enough to support a family.”
Reimagine Appalachia is a coalition of labor, policy experts and community leaders who are making sure that everyone who lives here can have a good job and can put down roots for the future. For months, the coalition has been pushing Congress to pass major funding packages that create jobs, rebuild infrastructure, and address fires and floods caused by damage to the climate. Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill providing $550 billion in new federal spending for infrastructure– a critical step in fully realizing President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda and ensuring a healthier, better future for our children and communities.