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Senator Patty Murray Hopes Infrastructure Package Could Prepare Pacific Northwest For Next Heat Wave

Help could be on the way to the Pacific Northwest’s infrastructure – which has been tested this summer with heat waves and wildfires.

Spokane Public Radio spoke to Senator Patty Murray about the federal infrastructure packages before Congress now, which have several provisions to address climate change.

Murray says provisions in both infrastructure deals before Congress could address the root causes of those disasters, and help communities build the resilience they need to withstand them.

“These heat waves are really a stark reminder that the climate crisis is here and now," she said. "It’s not some distant worry for another day, it is here and we need to address it. In both of the bills we are moving right now – in terms of infrastructure - we are focused on what we can do to address climate change.”

Climate change-related interventions include electrifying school buses and ferries, increasing electric charging stations, and modernizing the Pacific Northwest’s power grid. Spokane saw widespread blackouts caused by the heatwave and aging electric infrastructure.

She says the investments will help communities, especially communities of color that are usually hit harder by climate disasters, be prepared for future heat waves.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has bipartisan support, and has already cleared several hurdles, but the more expansive $3 trillion-dollar infrastructure package in the House still has a long way to go.

"The first bill, what I call the cement side – roads, bridges and highways, has already passed the Senate," she said. "It is waiting a vote in the House and will likely pass the end of this month, the first part of October. The second part of it, we had to pass a bill to give us the direction to do it, the keys to the car bill. That has now passed both the House and Senate and right now we are working on the language and all the finalization of that bill which will come before the House before the end of this month.”

The second larger infrastructure package – which has more to address climate change and more assistance for childcare and long-term care workers – has faced more opposition, and does not have bipartisan support.

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