CD240: BIF The Infrastructure BILL
Release Date: 10/11/2021
Much media attention has been rightfully aimed at the recent failures of Congress, but there was, in fact, lawmaking happening at the end of 2021. In this episode, learn about some laws that didn't get much attention, including a law that solves a real problem and a few laws designed to economically punish China. We also take a look at what is happening in Congress as we start 2022 and look for opportunities for effective activism as we enter this Congressional election year.info_outline CD244: Keeping Ukraine
Since the beginning of December, news outlets around the world have been covering a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine. In this episode, get the full back story on the civil war that has been raging in Ukraine since 2014, learn what role our government has played in the conflict, and hear Victoria Nuland testify to the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee about the Biden administration's plans if Russia decides to use its military to invade Ukraine.info_outline CD243: Target Nicaragua
In mid-November, following the re-election of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Congress passed and President Biden signed the RENACER Act, which escalated an ongoing economic war against President Daniel Ortega. In this episode learn about what the RENACER Act does as we examine the situation in Nicaragua and find out and why Daniel Ortega has a target on his back.info_outline Goodbye Thank You Episodes
This show wouldn't exist without its producers who have paid for Congressional Dish to keep it going and growing for 9 years and counting. In this last public bonus Thank You episode, hear about the changes coming to your podcast as it enters its 10th year. It's time to refocus and give you more of what you're paying for: Deep dives into what Congress is doing with your money and in your name.info_outline CD242 The Offshore Drilling Police
On October 1, 2021 an oil pipeline that was likely struck by a cargo ship's anchor leaked tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the ocean and onto the beaches of Orange County, CA. In this episode, examine how the oil spill happened by listening to testimony provided to both the U.S. Congress and the California State Senate, and learn about the disturbing lack of policing that is taking place under the sea.info_outline CD241: 20th Anniversary of the Patriot Act
The Patriot Act: A law that is still governing us after 20 years despite being almost universally hated. In this episode, we take a close look at the lesser known parts of the Patriot Act that became permanent immediately, examine the status of the few provisions that had to be reauthorized over the years, find out how the law was crafted in the first place, and see what happened to the members of Congress who voted for this rights-destroying legislation.info_outline CD240: BIF The Infrastructure BILL
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.info_outline CD239: The Enablers of Larry Nassar
In June 2015, the FBI in Indianapolis was notified that Larry Nassar, a doctor for Olympic caliber gymnasts, was sexually abusing his underage patients. In this episode, hear highlights from a riveting Senate hearing with testimony from Maggie Nichols, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, and Simone Biles and get all the details presented in an Inspector General report explaining why the FBI did nothing to stop Larry Nassar for over a year while he continued to abuse dozens of additional young girls.info_outline CD238: Losing Afghanistan
The war in Afghanistan is over. In this episode, we document how and why the Biden administration finally admitted defeat in our 20 year attempt to create a new government in Afghanistan and we take a hard look at the lessons we need to learn. Afghanistan is a country in a far away land, but there are disturbing similarities between the Afghanistan government that just collapsed and our own. We'd be wise not to ignore them.info_outline CD237: Hunting Domestic Terrorists
In the aftermath of January 6th, Congress passed a "Capitol Security" law and is considering other measures to deal with "domestic terrorists". In this episode, after examining the new law, we take a look at domestic terrorism related bills moving through Congress, analyze current "domestic terrorism" laws, and take a close look at plans for investigating, preventing, and prosecuting Americans for crimes they have yet to commit.info_outline
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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Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes
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.
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.
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.
Jeff Butler. January 27, 2019. “Norway leads an electric ferry revolution.” plugboats.com
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.
- Authorizes appropriations for Federal-Aid for highways at between $52 billion and $56 billion per year through fiscal year 2026.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- Authorizes between $110 million and $118 million per year through 2026 (from the Highway Trust Fund) to construct ferry boats and ferry terminals.
- 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.
- Establishes a program to study and test projects that would reduce emissions.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.
- Creates a pilot program to test a national motor vehicle per-mile user fee.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- Food and beverage service: Amtrak will establish a working group...
- Amtrak must submit a report...
- Amtrak will not be allowed to privatize the jobs previously performed by laid off union workers.
- Amtrak would study bringing back long distance rail routes that were discontinued.
- 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.
- 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
- 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"
- 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.
- 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.
- The Comptroller General will conduct a study to determine the annual operation and maintenance costs for positive train control.
- Allows, but does not require, the Secretary of Transportation to create regulations governing the noise levels of trains that exceed 160 mph.
- 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.
- 180 days after this becomes law, all railroad mechanics will be subject to drug testing, which can be conducted at random.
- Authorizes between $13.3 billion and $14.7 billion per year to be appropriated for transit grants.
- 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).
- 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.
- The US Geological Survey will get $320 million and ten years to map "all of the recoverable critical minerals."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Creates a new program for funding new or expanded large-scale carbon sequestration projects.
- Authorizes $2.5 billion through 2026.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- Authorizes a one-time appropriation of $125 million for fiscal year 2022.
- Authorizes a one-time appropriation of $75 million for fiscal year 2022.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- Authorizes between $700 million and $1.3 billion through2025 for advanced nuclear reactor demonstration 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.
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