How Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Could Affect BW Students

President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law in November 2021, could have implications for the Baldwin Wallace and greater Berea communities. 

During his Lorain address on Feb. 17, the crowd cheered after Biden announced a $1 billion investment to restore the Great Lakes as part of the bill, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The bipartisan infrastructure bill could affect Baldwin Wallace students through new investments made to enhance the environment, infrastructure, and transportation.   

Biden’s speech echoed sentiments found in a report by BW professor of national security and international studies Jason Keiber, with both arguing that a healthy environment is paramount to the economy and national security. Recently, Keiber teamed up with two BW students, international studies major Natalie Riechert and Abigail Rudolph, a national security major, to create what he called “an easy-to-understand document for policymakers.” 

Keiber said that they broke down a difficult-to-understand document from Princeton University that gave each state different paths to take to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.  

Keiber said he hopes the work will affect policy makers as they receive the new funding, calling that objective “the reach goal” of the document.  

Keiber supports aspects of Biden’s infrastructure bill, especially relating to the environment. 

“Increasingly it’s making more economic sense to make some of those changes,” Keiber said. Keiber noted that this might push those skeptical of climate change to take climate policy seriously, but by then it might be too late.  

Biden said that the economy will grow with environmental protection and not be destroyed. Workers will be plugging old gas and oil wells. He said the workers would be paid the same amount capping them as it would cost to dig them.  

“I think that Biden is sort of acknowledging that there might be some job losses,” Keiber said. However, Keiber said that in the end more jobs will be created than lost. 

The Great Lakes funding Biden announced is part of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package passed by Congress last year meant to overhaul roads, bridges, and transportation. 

“This ‘Buy American’ law makes the most significant investment in roads and bridges and highways in nearly 70 years,” Biden said. The plan includes “fixing as many as 1,300 bridges.” 

Ohio will receive $483 million for bridge replacement and repairs under the infrastructure investment and jobs act over five years, according to a fact sheet provided by the White House.  

One bridge in need of restoration, the West Center Street Bridge located across from the Conservatory, is currently closed to vehicles with a rating of “poor” by National Bridge Inventory Data. The bridge links Henry Street to the back of Giant Eagle.  

Michael Regan, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said $242 million dollars in infrastructure funding will come from the EPA for waterway infrastructure this year alone. Students visiting Lake Erie could see improvements to the water quality. 

Ohio will receive $1.2 billion dollars over 5 years for public transportation according to the White House. This money could hypothetically be used to expand Berea’s public transportation options. Currently, Berea has no RTA Rapid Station to downtown. The next closest station is in Brookpark and is not within viable walking distance for a student.  

Over the next 5 years, Ohio will receive $253 million for their airports according to the White House, meaning that students arriving to BW via Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport could see changes as the funding become available.