Biden's $2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Will Hurt the Environment

The president says fighting climate change is one of his primary goals. His legislation would do no such thing.


President Joe Biden's administration has made the fight against climate change a central part of its $2 trillion infrastructure plan. This legislation, if it ever sees the light of day, would shovel more than $100 billion of subsidies toward boosting the market for electric vehicles, as well as updating the country's electric grid to make it allegedly more resilient to climate disasters.

All of these "investments" sound well and good on paper, but if you genuinely care about the environment, don't hold your breath for any real progress. For one thing, Biden's plan is mostly a giant handout to corporations that are already heavily investing in infrastructure. It's also a gift to unions, most of which will do nothing to encourage the type of activities the president claims to support, and they'll make the cost of producing infrastructure more expensive, so we'll probably see less of it.

Consider the way the plan is currently funded with taxes on income. As Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute notes, that's pretty much the exact opposite of the way a green plan should be funded. He writes, "Biden's plan relies on income taxes to pay for infrastructure subsidies, and that approach does not moderate consumption or reduce resource use." What the president should do instead, Edwards suggests, is allow states to "fund infrastructure…through user charges that restrain consumer demand."

Those higher income taxes on top of the many costly labor and environmental mandates in the bill would also raise production costs in the United States. That would shift production of many products to other countries that have more competitive tax rates and lower production costs—but also, oftentimes, questionable environmental standards. This was nicely highlighted in a recent Kite & Key Media video that explains how our already burdensome labor, health, and climate regulations make it impossible to open a mine or to operate one profitably in the United States. This matters because the greener our lives, the more we need minerals like graphite, lithium, and manganese.

The good news is that regulatory reform of, among other things, the National Environmental Protection Act of 1970 has bipartisan support. Scholars on both sides of the aisle agree that these reviews delay and drive up the costs of infrastructure projects while rarely delivering on the promise of environmental protection. Less expensive infrastructure projects mean more investment at home and more resources to innovate toward a greener future.

The Biden administration's commitment to the protectionist tariffs of the Trump administration is also counterproductive for the environment. The reason free trade is good for the environment is simple: Countries will only produce things at what economists call a "comparative advantage." This is just a fancy way to say that, with free trade, each good is produced with as few resources as possible. That's a win for the environment. It's time to make trade as free as possible by removing all the Trump tariffs and more—and signing as many free trade agreements as are politically feasible.

While the administration is at it, it should end the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. Also known as the Jones Act, this cronyism is a protectionist provision that restricts the waterborne transport of cargo within the United States to vessels that are U.S.-flagged, U.S.-crewed, U.S.-owned, and U.S.-built. This act's main effect is to increase the cost of waterborne transportation within the United States, which in turn encourages the use of alternative forms of transportation such as trucks and rail—modes of freight transportation that are worse for the environment than shipping on water. The Jones Act also encourages the use of older and, hence, less fuel-efficient vessels.

The administration could also signal that it's serious about the environment by ending all federal subsidies to oil and gas, both at home and abroad. That includes the U.S. Export-Import Bank's financing of oil and gas companies abroad to buy goods from American companies, which represents 25 percent of the bank's portfolio.

But there's an even larger point: Ultimately, we know that the best green policy is the prosperity made possible only by economic growth. The wealthier we are, the more we can afford to attend to the environment. Unfortunately, the Biden administration's preferred path of more taxes, and more politically motivated spending and regulations will not just make us financially poorer; it also comes at a high cost for the environment.


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Infrastructure Environmentalism Joe Biden Free Trade Climate Change Labor Unions Economy Economics

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103 responses to “Biden's $2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Will Hurt the Environment

  1. It is about taxes and rewarding certain businesses under the auspice of improving the environment.

    1. But SPB assured us the 80 billion a year from corporate taxes will cover all of this spending so it is okay.

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  2. Damn; no one here to mute

    1. The mere presence of the button seems to have had an effect.

      1. It is pretty amazing. I’ve flagged and muted maybe three spam accounts since the button became available. That’s less than I used to see in the comments to a single article.

        1. Brandon or Branson Tay hardest hit

          1. what about the guys that just left shoprite to start their own ventures?

            1. Obviously very effective in their endeavor! ShopRite hardest hit

      2. Can we have an upvote button next? It’s a nice way to agree with someone without taking up space.

        1. Most systems that have upvotes turn into systems where mobs utilize it to drive up comments to hide comments they disagree with. It is a terrible system.

          1. You could always storm the Reason headquarters, Jesse, if you disagree with the number of upvotes.

            1. Wow, this is dumb even by your standards. When have I ever threatened to storm Reason?

          2. Kind of like the MLB all-star ballots where the same fans would vote a lot to skew the results. Or the 2020 election.

            1. thumbs up

          3. it is a terrible system. it is also what drives most of the echo chambers out there…. bad ideas going mainstream is driven by up-votes.

            1. Chipper approves of echo chambers.

              1. Trolls dont like up votes it exposes them . They dont get any. and they are then easy to spot by low numbers

    2. Sarcasmic will be in shortly to give us his muted list again.

      1. Right up there with Hihn’s ‘enemies list’; makes me proud!

        1. He is about 6 or 7 years away based on my estimation.

        2. hey…
          left – right = 0 baby!
          …or something to that effect.
          someone’s comment here the other day reminded me of that.

  3. Porkulus projects are a win for politicians, so good luck getting that cancelled.

    1. Those Votes dont Buy themselves!

  4. To borrow from Farragut: “Damn the economy. Full speed ahead!”

  5. And everyone thought Trump was nuts.

    1. Biden is so far gone he doesn’t even understand he is nuts.

    2. Not everyone. Just the majority of the country.

      1. And they voted for the nut job Biden.

        1. True that.

          1. No they didn’t. Biden did not a receive the majority of the countries votes.

            The turn out rate of the election was 67%.

            Can you do the math? What’s 51% times 67%?

            1. The election was fortified.

            2. Can you do the math? What’s 51% times 67%?

              3,417 %

              /prog math.

              1. LOL! So true.

  6. >>>but if you genuinely care about the environment

    don’t look to D.C. … they certainly do not.

  7. “This is just a fancy way to say that, with free trade, each good is produced with as few resources as possible.”

    And sometimes you can maximize profit if your government does not mind the pollution and/or human cost. Ship breakers in India are a good example. Chinese smog is another.

    1. Yeah, that’s always the conundrum: We can build up solar and wind energy resources much quicker using components purchased overseas, therefore lowering our carbon “footprint,” while at the same time increasing the same footprint of other nations.

      Of course, if someone actually took the time to do the work, there is probably a “middle ground” somewhere — or “negotiable” aspects in trade agreements, which could require some kind of environmental protections by the overseas partners.

      But I am sure that would be way to much effort for the bureaucrats who run this country.

      1. like most issues in politics today….. nobody is interested in actually fixing anything, nobody has any interest in finding middle ground, and nobody really cares about anything other than pissing the other “side” off.

  8. The spending will have no statistical effect on the environment.

    The spending is bad without crying about environmentalism.

    You can say it is bad regardless.

  9. 1st law of thermodynamics. everything has a cost. the question is how much are we willing to pay for marginal safety. We could mine our own minerals safely if chose to do so but we are racist and make teh chinks and others do the work for us.

    1. “The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”

      ― Thomas Sowell

    2. The Chinese population outnumbers that of America and Europe combined. If a minority can’t be racist, we are good.

    3. or, newtons third law of motion?

  10. It’s not like they actually care about the environment (or could do anything even if they did care), they just want the trillions of dollars sloshing around without any accountability.

    1. ^ This.

  11. Actually i was hoping this would be an article of how it would literally destroy the environment to try and cut emission by 50% by 2030, unless you kill half the population but that would only be temporary and also an environmental disaster in itself. i don’t know why real scientist are not out stating this scientific fact. that tells you something about the dishonesty of science.

  12. Shocked. Didn’t see this coming!

  13. Whatever. Biden could spend $200 quadrillion and as long as billionaires like’s benefactor Charles Koch are getting richer — which they definitely are — I wouldn’t regret my vote.


    1. Biden will a boon for billioniares. Soon, everyone will be one.


  14. 80 million people voted for Biden so this is exactly what they want.

    1. We were told 80 million people voted for Biden so this is exactly what they want.


      1. Shame that they’re always too busy to offset all of the dislikes to his YouTube speeches

      2. Yes, but if you say it that way you risk being reported to the Committee for Public Safety.

    2. It exactly what they deserve. And so do the other 250 million Americans who allowed this to happen.

  15. But there’s an even larger point: Ultimately, we know that the best green policy is the prosperity made possible only by economic growth.

    And completely missing the largest point. ALL spending financed by debt rather than by surplus resource production is gonna harm the environment. Doesn’t matter one fucking whit whether its public or private. Our money system is based on failing to price natural resource externalities and that is the pretty much the entirety of ‘environmental’ problems.

    The notion that one can fuck the environment and then ‘we’ll fix what we fucked up when we get rich enough to give a shit’ is evil and insane. Economics truly has become autistic. Apologies to the autistic.

    1. “The notion that one can fuck the environment and then ‘we’ll fix what we fucked up when we get rich enough to give a shit’ is evil and insane.”

      Who’s saying this?

      1. He hears voices.

      2. When you are not pricing those externalities, that is what ‘growth’ is. Of course we’re not saying that because we have no interest in admitting that our money system is a major part of the problem. There is no ‘resource scarcity’ or externality with money itself. Which means it is not going to price things that do have a resource scarcity or externality – least not well.

        1. I don’t think anybody is saying what you said.

          The point is that wealthier people are more likely to make willing and meaningful sacrifices for the environment–if that’s what they care about.

          To get from what’s actually being said, here, to your statement requires you to distort what is actually being said.

          1. What is being said is irrelevant compared to what is being done.

            If the wealthy were driving ‘environmental awareness’, then the US would be one of the countries at the forefront of that. We are wealthy right? The US is not at the forefront of anything like that. The US is near irrelevant – now.

            1. If we were wealthy, we wouldn’t need stimulus checks.

    2. Hey, I can mute you now!

      1. Cool. I can mute someone AND not have to announce it.

    3. He uttered nothing but uncertain opinions about physical nature – and nothing but categorical imperatives about men.

      Hey, look, it works for jeffy as well!

      I see sarc as the Non-absolute and jeffy as the Wet Nurse. The character’s actual name was Tony, so that covers the entire Axis of Fallacy.

      1. Tony eventually realized that he sucked.

  16. “Ultimately, we know that the best green policy is the prosperity made possible only by economic growth. The wealthier we are, the more we can afford to attend to the environment”

    This is exactly right.

    Poor people don’t pay a premium at Whole Foods for produce with a smaller carbon footprint, and they aren’t lining up to pay a premium so they can drive a Tesla either. As people have more discretionary income, they make more choices based on what they care about rather than what they can afford, and entrepreneurs love to differentiate their products based on qualitative criteria that consumers care about.

    From solar to electric cars, these technological innovations are driven by wealthy people willing to do the financial heavy lifting early to be fashionable, etc., and the more wealthier people there are, the more financial heavy lifting they can do. Teslas couldn’t go for $35,000 a piece when they first came out because there wasn’t enough there to justify building the first factories or financing the early R&D. And before we get to the way environmentalists want us to be, we’ll need to see that happen in a thousand different industries.

    The solution to our environmental problems is consumer driven, market capitalism.

    1. Ken, I think you just hit upon Tesla’s marketing strategy.

      “How much is too much to pay for virtue?”

    2. EV are exactly the problem now in the US with this notion of environment as something the luxury market will solve. It makes a 2.2% market share in 2019 for EV’s seem reasonable. Hell maybe we’ll become really rich and 4% will happen. And what is happening elsewhere now (as of 2019) becomes incomprehensible – eg a 75% market share in Norway (with govt distortions of pricing system in a very rich country). Or a 5% market in both China (govt distortions in a poor country) and Switzerland (no/few government distortions in a rich country). We’re not talking about 2030 or 2050. This is 2019.

      Same with publicly-accessible charging infrastructure. Or EV larger vehicles. The US is irrelevant and we will apparently remain irrelevant forever – in the next generation of automobiles. For the same reason Mercedes with a 20 year headstart on Ford did nothing re mass production.

      1. “EV are exactly the problem now in the US with this notion of environment as something the luxury market will solve.

        How can you read what I wrote, and come away with that?!

        The luxury market financed the R&D and construction of the factories. There had to be higher profit margins to begin with until those products were designed, those factories were paid for, and that high margin equity and debt were serviced. Now that the initial investments are paid for with sales to the luxury market, Tesla can start using those same factories to make cars that cost $35,000. They can make Teslas for less per car now, with lower profit margins per unit, because those early luxury buyers covered the start up costs. Do you not want to understand that?

        When smart phones first came out, they might cost $1,200 a piece to make. Now they cost a hundred bucks. They wouldn’t invest in the capital equipment, start up costs, factories, etc. to achieve the scale necessary to make $100 smartphones if the early adopters weren’t willing to pay $1,200 for the smart phones to begin with.

        Is this new to you?

        Tesla roadsters cost more than $100,000 ten years ago, and you had to put $50,000 down before they would start building your order–and they were still losing money, no profits! Now Tesla, after retooling their factories, can sell cars for $35,000 and make a profit. The idea isn’t that luxury buyers, all alone, will be enough to stop climate change. It’s that early adopters finance the heavy lifting start up costs to make it possible for these technologies to go mainstream.

        It’s the same thing with solar. It’s the same thing with everything. That’s the way finance works–there’s an initial costly investment, and servicing that early equity and debt generally requires a relatively high profit margin, over a short period of time to justify the initial investment, especially considering the risk associated with new technology. As those initial costs are paid down, the profit margin per unit necessary to justify further production drops as scale increases.

        You buy an oven to sell burritos for $100. You bake something big that makes you a profit of $2 a piece. After you’ve paid back your equity and debt, with their time constraints, you don’t need to cover that cost anymore. You can make things with lower profit margins but more demand. This isn’t new. This is industrial revolution level knowledge.

        Your belief that this is all about the luxury market is voices in your head.

        1. Tesla’s next car will only cost $25,000.

          “The $25,000 tag doesn’t initially sound that impressive, when you can buy an internal combustion engine Toyota Corolla in the USA starting at under $20,000. But this isn’t the market the car will be aimed at. The Tesla Model 3 starts at just under $40,000 in the US, and was clearly aimed at the luxury mid-sized market epitomized by the BMW 3-series, which its sales have annihilated in the USA. The new $25,000 car – shall we call it the Model 2? Everyone else is – will be aimed at another European icon, the hugely popular VW Golf, which represents quality at an affordable price. You can pick one of those up for just over $23,000.


          As people become wealthier, they’re more free to make choices in line with the things they care about through their consumer behavior, and that does the early heavy lifting that’s necessary in order to make these technologies less expensive and more widely available.

          Ten years ago, 64″ TVs would cost you thousands of dollars, and only wealthy people could afford them. Now you can get a quality 64″ TV from Walmart for a few hundred bucks. And that isn’t because Biden or the Democrats did anything. It’s because of the consumer behavior of wealthy people covering the initial costs and because of economies of scale. If you want to see new technologies put into use by the masses, that’s the way it happens. You have to be an idiot to think Biden and the Democrats have a better plan.

          1. And EV’s in China currently cost as little as $10,000

      2. all false twaddle and Sky Pie.

        EE says we cant generate and grid even a tiny percentage of the electricity needed for mass EV use. Power grids are on edge of collapse now.

        EVs are politics fir Govt RnD money.

        Signed Fmr RnD engineer

    3. Electric cars should be cheaper than ICEs. You can trade the engine block and the entire transmission for 4 motors and the batteries. Especially now that the batteries are getting more efficient and the effective range is getting to reasonable.

      But there is a regulatory constraint that is going to keep them above a certain price point. I had a 1993 Civic that got 50 mpg. I bought my wife a 2001 Civic and the thing got 32 mpg if we were lucky. I tried to figure out how Honda engines got so much less efficient in less than 10 years and discovered the weight of the vehicle had increased by almost 1000 pounds. The difference is the structural improvements required to get passable crash ratings.

      The explosion of SUVs and full size pickups on the road means that cheaper and lighter cars are more prone to being demolished in an accident. All the steel necessary to protect the passengers means added weight, lower mpg (less range for EVs) and higher prices.

      In case you didn’t have to enough reasons to hate Karen for buying a 8-passenger Suburban to protect her precious and only child.

      The good news is that batteries in the bottom of the vehicle make for a low center of gravity. EVs don’t roll over and can go around corners really fast.

      1. The start up costs for the major auto manufacturers were absorbed many decades ago, and they’re building for a much wider scale with a much thinner profit margin. I wouldn’t bet against Tesla costs dropping dramatically over time.

        1. Having leased an EV for 3 years, another thing that keeps cost up is fit and finish have to be kept to high standards because without an engine, road noise is really, really noticeable. That is a big deal for high-end cars, but not such a concern for the low end of the market.

          Thinking back on how much noise my 1970 VW made. You could go deaf driving that thing. And it didn’t even have a fan. The only heat was straight off the engine.

          1. I really like the Rivian concept. All that torque for an offroad application and for dragging an RV around? I want that.

            I’ll be interested in finding out how well it does in water. They build the thing so that it has four independent motors, one for each wheel, and it’s down there next to the wheel. I want to see how well that system does in water. It will be wet and muddy down there all the time.

            Sooner or later, however, they will come out with an electric four wheel drive that’s better than a combustion engine. It’s just a matter of time, cost, investment, and economies of scale. The government can step in and screw all of that up whenever they want.

            The Greeks had differential gears, but the industrial revolution had to wait for politics to get out of the way for 1,500 years or so.


            Hope I don’t have to wait 1,500 years for an amazingly great electric truck because the government decides to subsidize the industry and frustrate competitive innovation or something stupid like that. Maybe Biden will tell the car companies that they have to share their battery technologies for free like he wants to do with vaccine breakthroughs. Whatever else progressives are, they’re also the enemies of the future*.

            *H/T to Postrel

      2. lie. Batteties are not more efficient. thats not the issue. The batteries are too exprnsive and dangerous.

    4. >>“Ultimately, we know that the best green policy is the prosperity
      >>made possible only by economic growth. The wealthier we are, the
      >>more we can afford to attend to the environment”

      >This is exactly right.

      Isnt this saying what jfree said up above in other terms?

      1. BTW, I dont think youre wrong on any of your points. I think you two are talking past each other and actually agree on most of what the other is saying. JFree is opposed to what you are correct about and proclaiming it to be immoral.

        That’s my interpretation of your debate at least.

  17. Progressives don’t care about the environment. They use the perception of care to advance their totalitarian goals

  18. Biden’s $2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Will Hurt the Environment ….
    What was that that deputy Gerard says?….
    Oh yeah!… “I don’t care.”

    That being quipped… I do care that this senile old goat is a front man for the forces that would bankrupt the ENTIRE STINKIN’ WORLD!
    The earth will survive a bad [idiotic] budget, but the US economy and all the little satellites circling the toilet bowl of world finance just might not.

  19. When I read or hear a pol use the word “infrastructure” I get a mental image of them burning piles of other peoples money with a big weed burner. I’d never though, til now, thought of comparing the environmental impact of them doing that versus doing what they propose to do as infrastructure.


      With the economy sliding deeper into a recession, panelists discuss whether it’s time to stop throwing our money into a massive pit out in the desert.

      1. The pols must be making it ever harder for ‘The Onion’ to create content with reality outstripping both satire and credulity.

  20. Republicans need to understand that Trump’s policies and rhetoric have set us back a decade or more against other countries. This is why there is an urgency now for a hefty investment in infrastructure. Either we spend the cash or we are left behind — for good. Technology is a great equalizer and has made it easier for more progressive countries to compete with us. And they will eat our lunch if the shortsighted Republican Senators keep getting in the way. For God’s sake, put aside politics. Our national security is at stake.

    1. “Republicans need to understand that Trump’s policies and rhetoric have set us back a decade or more against other countries.”

      I fully agree thus far, but can’t accept the cognitive dissonance of then arguing for continuing his policies and rhetoric.

      “Trump Urges $2 Trillion for Infrastructure to Bolster Economy”

      1. Youre both idiots.

        His rhetoric did nothing to the markets. Lack of far travel, lack of garages in many parts of the country, lack of charging stations, etc. None have to do with rhetoric.

      2. Oops, that link jumps to another article. Here’s the one of Trump seeking $2 trillion for infrastructure just like Biden.

        Trump and his circus truck full of Trumpanzees swerved so far left, that all that the actual Left can do is follow behind.

    2. Other progressive countries don’t spend money at the insane rate America does.

      Other progressive countries have privatized a lot of their infrastructure because they figured out that the government was lousy at running it.

      Other progressive countries balance their budgets and impose high taxes on the middle class and high consumption taxes in order to keep their economies functioning and budgets balanced.

      Other progressive countries don’t have hundreds of in-kind welfare programs on top of EITC and other handouts, and the don’t permit people to idle away for decades on government handouts; they have minimal welfare plus job search/work/education requirements.

      What Americans, and in particular American progressives do, is ludicrous by the standards of other civilized and/or progressive nations.

    3. Terrible argument from top to bottom. What are your examples of what we are falling behind in?

      Europe isnt catching us on anything, and it isnt because of conservative politics that they are falling the furthest behind. Russia is losing ground on everything other than military tech.

      South america and europe catching up to us wouldnt be a bad thing, and considering how far behind they are, they should be making progress faster than we are.

      India is fricken mess, but it would benefit america for them to get their shit together and compete for regional superiority in that part of the world.

      The only thing we are losing the lead in is military superiority. Are you suggesting that we spend the required amount of money to maintain that? Especially since a good deal of technology trickles down from random DOD boondoggles?

      You are severely misinformed if you think anyone is close to surpassing us in information or healthcare tech or cultural soft power.

  21. Let’s just scrape the Democratic Crap off…

    This is ALL about two things —
    1. STEALING $2T from working citizens
    2. Monopolizing the energy sector.

  22. You racists! How dare you oppose this!! You all know that unions are made up of mostly BIPOC people. Also, opposing imports from China is anti-Asian hate speech.

  23. Once again reason reaching as always. Kinda pathetic you put out this drivel.

  24. From an outsiders perspective, your President’s not too bright.

    1. Well dont worry about offending Groper Joe. He doesnt know whom or where he is.

      President Drool Buckets in charge!

  25. Modern nuclear, especially Small Modular Nuclear reactors which are built in factories and shipped to sites for installation, usually underground. These can be added incrementally to existing generation plants with no need for extra wire. Mining footprint is pretty much already established. No need for new types of mines.

    1. LIE. Cant pump out the terawatts for EVs on existing grids. There overloaded now

  26. Why do we need to fight climate change?

    1. note how peaceful tolerant Liberals are constantly using language implying violence.

      ” Fighting”. Virus is ” war” etc.

      The closest these Progressive soy boys losers get to war is their video games.

      These are their Athiest versions of Christian Armageddon. Xtians say God will destroy the world. Athiest Commiecrats worship themselves so man will destroy the world.

  27. For the liars promoting EVs and alt energy…

    I calculated the electricity use that replacing mass passenger transportation in the US with the 30 Kw Lotus car would require…

    5.6 x 10 to the TWENTY FOURTH POWER KWH.

    An error of 1,000 times in the calc makes no difference…

    You just look like the politically motivated liars that you are to an engineer spouting your EV lies

    1. Individual Common-Sense has no room in master take-over plans for a National Socialist Slave camp. Everyone must be persuaded into being idiots for idiocy to prevail!

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