The American Jobs Plan would create new jobs by providing critical upgrades to our nation’s infrastructure while also helping to build a clean energy economy across the United States. It represents a broad and forward-thinking investment in the future that would deliver enormous benefits to Maine’s economy, environment, and people—in every part of our state.
This is an important and historic moment. The American Jobs Plan is focused on helping the nation emerge from the pandemic stronger than before by focusing resources in areas that urgently need attention, investment, and repairs. Here are 11 specific examples of how the American Jobs Plan would benefit the lives and livelihoods of Maine people:
- Clean Drinking Water, Rivers, and Oceans The plan’s $56 billion in grants and loans for wastewater and stormwater projects would lead to cleaner waters across Maine by helping communities address a huge backlog of wastewater treatment projects. In 2019 alone, according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, half a billion gallons of raw sewage was dumped into Maine coastal waters and rivers because of 322 Combined Sewer Overflow events. Upgrading our outdated sewage system to prevent these harmful pollution events would protect against clam flat closures, drinking water alerts, and beach closures. The plan also dedicates funding to upgrade rural drinking water and wastewater systems.
- Eliminate Lead in Drinking Water Pipes The plan allocates $45 billion to replace 100% of lead pipes in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control there is no safe level of lead exposure for children. Lead pipes are especially problematic in Maine because they are commonly found in older homes and buildings. Maine’s corrosive water also causes lead to leach from pipes at an alarming rate. A 2016 USA Today investigative report found that 44 water samples in 26 Maine schools or day care facilities had levels of lead that exceeded federal safety guidelines. Greg Payne, director of the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition, said the plan to replace lead pipes in Maine would be “very good news for everybody who wants to know that when they move into a home, it won’t become a hazard to their health.”
- High-speed Broadband Internet to Rural Maine The Maine Broadband Coalition has highlighted the massive gaps in access to high-speed internet that many Mainers face. The American Jobs Plan set a goal of bringing 100% high-speed broadband coverage to all Americans, especially those in rural areas. These funds will complement other programs already underway in Maine to support our schools, homes, and businesses with high-speed, reliable internet service. Achieving universal broadband coverage is crucial for creating economic opportunities throughout rural Maine.
- Lower Energy Costs for Maine Homeowners and Local Businesses Maine’s homeowners and businesses face high energy costs because of older homes and buildings, and reliance on expensive home heating oil. The plan calls for a $213 billion investment to reduce energy bills by constructing, preserving, and retrofitting more than two million affordable and energy-efficient homes and businesses. A $27 billion Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator could encourage even more energy efficiency improvements.
- Repair Roads and Bridges Maine’s bridges were ranked 6th worst in the nation in 2018, and our roads are in desperate need of improvement. A $115 million investment will help address those roads, bridges, and main streets that are in most critical need of repair. It also aims to repair the nation’s worst 10,000 smaller bridges, including bridges that provide critical connections to rural and tribal communities here in Maine. However, we must ensure that these funds go to repairing and making existing roads safer and not to expanding or building new roads or highways, which would only create more congestion and more pollution. We must use these funds to support road designs and other improvements that reduce crashes and fatalities and make the streets safer for all users, especially people biking and walking.
- Reliable, Modernized Public Transit to Serve the Entire State Maine faces a legacy of underinvestment in transit that doesn’t meet the demand or need for public transit options for both urban and rural populations. Communities across Maine, including Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston, Auburn, Saco, and Portland, are seeking opportunities to build better transit services to help their residents get around. By doubling the federal funding for transit to $85 billion, the state would be able to modernize our existing transit services and help agencies expand their systems to better serve Mainers wherever they live. An $80 billion investment in Amtrak will improve existing Downeaster service to Southern Maine and explore new train corridors, including a possible route up the coast to Rockland.
- Expand Affordability of Electric Cars and Trucks In order to reduce pollution from cars and trucks, Maine’s largest source of carbon pollution, we need to make electric cars and trucks more affordable and accessible statewide. A $174 billion investment in electric vehicles (EV) would provide the critical boost needed to move the nation toward decarbonized transportation, with incentives that help ensure these vehicles are more affordable for all families. A commitment to build a national network of 500,000 EV charging stations will make it easier and more convenient to charge vehicles, including throughout rural Maine communities.
- Energy Independence and a Reliable Electric Grid for Maine People Maine people face some of the most frequent and longest lasting power outages in the nation. The American Jobs Plan invests in projects that will create a more resilient and reliable electricity grid to reduce the frequency and length of power outages, and to support the transition to affordable clean energy sources. A new report details some of the steps Maine must take to modernize its electric grid to better serve Maine people. As a state that is downwind from dirty coal-fired power plants that deposit toxic mercury in our air and water, Maine people will enjoy cleaner air and water by adopting the national Clean Electricity Standard called for in the American Jobs Plan. The goal of 100% clean, carbon-pollution-free power by 2035 would drive investment in affordable renewable energy sources like wind and solar, helping to support local clean energy jobs and businesses here in Maine.
- Creating Better Educational Opportunities and Healthier Schools The President’s plan invests $100 billion to upgrade public schools and make them more energy efficient. It also aims to electrify at least 20 percent of the yellow school bus fleet through a new Clean Buses for Kids Program run by the Environmental Protection Agency with support from the Department of Energy. School buses are primarily diesel and produce air pollution that is harmful to children’s health, so an investment in school bus electrification would be a significant step toward a healthier population for years to come.
- Brownfield Redevelopment to Strengthen Communities A $5 billion investment in cleaning up pollution at old industrial and energy sites called “brownfields” will support economic development by creating spaces that can be redeveloped for uses that benefit cities and towns. A 2004 survey conducted by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection showed there are 2,105 brownfield sites in need of clean up in communities across our state. Cleaning up brownfield sites is crucial for economic redevelopment of these locations. The plan also includes $10 billion to monitor and remediate toxic PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in drinking water, an issue that has affected many Maine towns including Fairfield, which is considered a PFAS “hot spot.”
- Protect and Restore Nature-based Infrastructure The American Jobs Plan includes the largest investments in natural resource restoration and environmental justice in our nation’s history. The plan prioritizes that “every dollar spent on rebuilding our infrastructure be used to prevent, reduce, and withstand the impacts of the climate crisis.” Fifty billion dollars in dedicated investments would improve infrastructure resilience to protect against extreme weather events and $10 billion for a new Civilian Climate Corps to put a new, diverse generation of Americans to work conserving our public lands and waters, bolstering community resilience, and advancing environmental justice. In a state like ours, that means protecting what makes Maine special to us and the visitors who expand our nature-based tourism economy. It also provides critical funds to protect our communities from the impacts of climate change.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine believes the American Jobs Plan would provide breakthrough investments that would benefit communities across Maine through a reduction of air and water pollution, removal of toxic pollution from industrial sites and drinking water systems, repair of aging roads and bridges, and energy system improvements that help address climate change. Collectively, the benefits would be real and meaningful and felt for decades to come.
—Emmie Theberge, NRCM Federal Program Director
Banner photo: Moosehead Lake by Allison Wells