While signing the hard-fought infrastructure bill into law, President Biden gave a speech that claimed a legislative accomplishment and staked a place in history. “Generations from now, people will look back and know this is when America won the economic competition for the 21st century,” he said.

The law, formally known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), centers around infrastructure but encompasses far more. Beyond traditional items such as roads, bridges, transit, and water treatment plants, provisions were included to address climate change, cut and clean up pollution, deliver broadband services, create good jobs, offer worker training, improve racial equity, and spread economic opportunities to those who historically have been left behind. As we kick off this “once in a generation investment” of $1.2 trillion over five years, can we leverage this opportunity to ensure America’s workers will also be winners?

Despite the big $1.2 trillion total, most funding from the infrastructure package goes to existing programs. The new law nearly doubles current spending adding $550 billion beyond base budgets. The forecasts for job creation are large and consistent. The Economic Policy Institute projects 772,000 jobs per year while Moody Analytics predicts 600,000 in 2024 scaling to 800,000 jobs by 2025.

Yet beyond traditional infrastructure, there are new opportunities in the key area of climate change. Substantial provisions in the law support clean energy sources and smart grid projects as experts suggest transmission capacity must increase by at least 60% by the end of the decade to enable a net-zero emissions electricity system. Transit and rail systems may dampen carbon emissions generated by our existing transportation system that is reliant on personal vehicles. Current programs to reduce household energy burdens that also impact air pollution and the climate were increased by $3.5 billion which will assist low-income families. $5 billion is newly available for schools to replace polluting diesel buses with electric and low emissions buses, helping kids and their communities breathe cleaner air. These investments will drive the creation of jobs from construction to engineering, trucking, architecture, steelwork, and a multitude of other industries.

Read the full article about climate infrastructure by Mark Popovich at The Aspen Institute.