Advocacy

Congress Must Seize Opportunity to Enhance the Sustainability and Resilience of Our Infrastructure

Initiatives in a proposed infrastructure framework would mitigate the effects of climate change for both birds and people.

WASHINGTON (January 29, 2020) — The "Moving Forward Framework” released today by the House of Representatives contains important measures for increasing investments in infrastructure that would reduce carbon pollution from transportation and energy systems, and build up natural infrastructure to combat the effects of flooding, sea level rise, and stormwater pollution.

The framework calls for important investments to increase the sustainability and resilience of highways and transit.

“Our transportation system is the biggest contributor of carbon pollution in the country, and it remains vulnerable to weather that is increasingly extreme due to our rapidly changing climate. We can’t afford to allow things to continue as they are,” said Sarah Greenberger, senior vice president of conservation policy at the National Audubon Society. “Our own research shows that reducing carbon emissions now will go a long way to protecting birds by protecting the places that they need to survive, and provisions in this framework will help us do just that while keeping our roadways resilient and safe.”

Last year, the National Audubon Society released the report Survival By Degrees, which showed that if global temperatures are allowed to rise unchecked, two-thirds of bird species in North America will be vulnerable to extinction. But by slowing this increase, the majority of vulnerable species could be spared. This can be done by reducing carbon emissions and protecting habitats from climate-related weather changes.

The National Audubon Society supports the following measures contained in the framework:

  • Support investments in natural infrastructure: Natural solutions—like restoring wetlands to absorb floodwaters and installing living shorelines like oyster reefs to reduce erosion —provide more cost effective options for protecting infrastructure and waterways. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) estimates that natural infrastructure solutions provide more than $23 billion in storm protection services every year, while also improving air and water quality, and habitats for birds and other wildlife.
     
  • Invest in programs that reduce carbon pollution from the transportation sector: Audubon supports measures to increase access to and use of zero-emissions vehicles, including the creation of a grant program to build out a robust network of electric vehicle chargers along the interstate highway system, and supports increased funding for public transit, which can reduce traffic congestion, increase mobility for residents, and create cost-effective low-carbon transportation options in urban and suburban areas.
     
  • Support green infrastructure and complete street initiatives: Green infrastructure and complete street initiatives provide multiple benefits to the transportation sector and communities, including reducing carbon and stormwater pollution during heavy rains, reducing urban heat islands, and increasing safety and efficient movement for pedestrians and bicyclists.
     
  • Invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency: Investments to build out renewable and clean energy sources, modernize electric grid infrastructure, and increase the energy efficiency of buildings will be critical to addressing the climate crisis. Renewable energy should be sited to avoid impacts to birds and the places they need. Audubon also supports the continued research and development of carbon removal technology that may be critical for reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century.
     
  • Reject attempts to weaken environmental review of infrastructure projects: The Trump Administration’s recent proposed gutting of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) would remove important safeguards to protecting wildlife habitat and deny the public of the right to meaningfully evaluate various projects’ impact on their environment. Although Audubon supports timely approval of projects under NEPA, infrastructure projects need to be carefully vetted to ensure that environmental effects are considered and agencies have an opportunity to minimize or mitigate those effects. We urge the House to reinforce robust environmental review for infrastructure projects.

 

About Audubon
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.

Media Contact: Robyn Shepherd, robyn.shepherd@audubon.org, 212-979-3193

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