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Science and Environment

Infrastructure bill includes $47B to combat flooding, heat. What does it mean for Indiana?

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A new state program to address the special education teacher shortage will allow licensed teachers to enroll in free university training to earn a special education license to their credentials. (Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News)

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About $47 billion in the federal infrastructure bill will go to make communities in the U.S. more resilient to things like flooding, drought, and extreme heat. A White House news release said it's the largest such investment in American history. 

Gabriel Filippelli is the director of Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute, which works to make Indiana cities more resilient to the effects of climate change. He also researches climate impacts.

Filippelli said he's excited to see real money being put toward climate issues. He said the resilience funding could go toward a number of projects in Indiana.

“Better flood protection maps, which are desperately needed in Indiana. Hopefully some — some funding for identifying and mapping out urban heat island impacts and ways to mitigate those,” Filippelli said.

But last year alone, the U.S. suffered almost $100 billion worth of damage from extreme weather and climate-related disasters. Funding from the bipartisan bill would only be about half that much — and spread out over 10 years, not one.

“No, it's not enough in the long run. Just because it pales in comparison to the climate costs, climate disaster costs. But it's better than nothing and it's a great first step," Filippelli said.

Filippelli said resilience will only go so far, however. The U.S. has to stop burning fossil fuels — otherwise the future may be worse than what we’re prepared for.

READ MORE: Biden's plan for more power lines could bring more reliable, renewable energy to Indiana

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The infrastructure bill also puts $73 billion toward upgrading the energy grid — which could bring more renewable energy to Indiana. Another $21 billion will go to cleaning up water and soil pollution and $55 billion will provide households with cleaner, safer drinking water — including removing lead water pipes.

"This bill does — funds a whole whole scale remediation of our lead water infrastructure and that is so welcome," Filippelli said.

Filippelli said many cities in Indiana and across the Midwest need to follow Flint, Michigan's lead and replace their lead pipes. Though he said the bill doesn't address the most common sources of lead — paint and soil.

Contact reporter Rebecca at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.

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