The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) invite you to a briefing on America’s infrastructure needs and the business case for investing in long-term reliability and sustainability. Electric power outages, failing bridges, congested airports, deficient mass transit… all have substantial economic costs. A critical 2016 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) report, Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Economic Future, found that failing to fix and improve our nation’s infrastructure will result in $3.9 trillion in lost GDP by 2025, and 2.5 million lost jobs. There are also significant health and safety risks—Flint, MI, is just one example of the tragic consequences of neglected infrastructure.
Both political parties have floated plans to spend $1 trillion to upgrade U.S. infrastructure, with different ideas on how to pay for it. What could $1 trillion buy for the country? How can policymakers help set priorities and ensure smart investments that produce the best outcomes possible? In this briefing, infrastructure experts will help answer these and other questions and discuss the value of building for resilience.
Every four years, ASCE releases an Infrastructure Report Card assessing the state of the nation’s infrastructure in 16 major categories and assigning a letter grade to each one and to America’s infrastructure as a whole. In the recently released 2017 report, the overall grade is a D+, just barely above failing. Transit infrastructure came out particularly poorly in ASCE’s report, with a grade of D-, the lowest of any category. Eleven categories—more than two thirds—got a D rating: Aviation, Dams, Drinking Water, Energy, Hazardous Waste, Inland Waterways, Levees, Roads, Schools, Transit, and Waste Water. Four categories eked out a C (Bridges, Ports, Public Parks, and Solid Waste), and just one, Rail, earned a B. No category was awarded an A.
Energy infrastructure received a D+. According to ASCE, much of the U.S. energy system predates the turn of the last century, and most electric transmission and distribution lines went up in the 1950s and 60s with a 50-year life expectancy. We are now paying the price for deferred maintenance and upgrades: “As a result of aging infrastructure, severe weather events, and attacks and vandalism, in 2015 Americans experienced a reported 3,571 total outages, with an average duration of 49 minutes.”