President Biden wants to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on infrastructure, but there’s a contradiction at the heart of his ambition. His own White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council issued a report in May that blacklisted a litany of projects most Americans would think are classic public works.
The council is made up of three members of the Administration and 26 progressives from the academy or activists such as Susana Almanza of People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources. That’s really the group’s name. In March Mr. Biden directed them to recommend federal investments in which 40% of overall benefits would flow to disadvantaged communities.
The report floats some ideas that pass progressive muster, such as renewable energy and worker training, public transportation and “green housing.” But the report also cites more than a dozen “types of projects that will not benefit” poor communities.
These include “highway expansions” and “road improvements or automobile infrastructure, other than electric vehicle charging stations.” The advisers don’t explain why fixing roads wouldn’t help low-income people, perhaps because they can’t. The poor are far more likely to buy used cars that run on gasoline rather than new, expensive EVs. They need the mobility to travel from their homes to where the jobs are, which often isn’t where mass transit goes.
The advisers also would ban “pipeline creation, expansion, or maintenance.” Progressives oppose new gas and oil pipelines because they want to stop fossil-fuel production. But why object to maintaining existing pipelines—do they want more spills?