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Politics & Government

Sen. Carper sees progress on infrastructure funding

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Roman Battaglia
/
Delaware Public Media
Sen. Tom Carper recently visited the I-95 "Restore the Cooridor" project in Wilmington

One of the big stories in Washington DC is the negotiations over President Biden’s infrastructure plan.  And as that plays out on Capitol Hill, Delaware’s senior Senator Tom Carper has a vital role as chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee.

Carper visits The Green this week to discuss the federal debate over infrastructure spending and more.

As the Biden Administration and Republicans haggle over infrastructure, Sen. Tom Carper touts the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act unanimously passed out of a Senate committee last week.

The bipartisan bill authorizes more than $303 billion over five years in transportation infrastructure spending - a 34% increase from the last surface transportation reauthorization.

The money will upgrade highways, roads, and bridges with a new focus on addressing climate change and improving safety.

New programs that would be created to address climate change include $6.4 billion for reducing greenhouse gas emission and $8.7 billion to increase resilience to climate change and extreme weather.

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 And Carper says the bill will provide charging infrastructure for electric cars in communities.

"The auto manufacturers say we can build all the vehicles that get over 300 miles or 400 miles on a charge, but if they don't have places to charge them across the country then we can't sell them. So in our bill we're going to have places to charge them," said Carper. "The other thing the sleeper here is Hydrogen. Hydrogen can be used in conjunction with fuel cells to create electricity including electricity in vehicles that propel cars, trucks, and vans. It's especially promising for trucks - mid-size trucks and large trucks."

The bill also establishes a $500 million pilot program to help reconnect and revitalize areas divided by highway construction that pose barriers to economic development and opportunity.

Carper also believes a change in the federal gas tax is in order.

"I call it a user fee. It's not like a traditional tax. You paid only if you're going to use the roads, highways, or bridges, but it's 19 cents a gallon for gasoline and about 25 cents a gallon for diesel and we've not raised it for 25 years or more and the purchasing power of those fees is about half of what it was originally," said Carper. "And we need to adjust those not all at once but adjust them over time to restore the purchasing power."

The bill also includes $2.5 billion to create alternative fuel corridors along the National Highway System.

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