Tag Archives: infrastructure

Fury Over Privatized Grid Grows as Tens of Thousands Still Without Power in Puerto Rico

Until the U.S. island’s colonial status “is rectified,” wrote one observer, “it’s a safe bet that Puerto Rico will never fully recover.”

By Kenny Stancil  Published 10-6-2022 by Common Dreams

Hurricane Fiona caused an island-wide power outage as it brought dangerous winds and pounding rain to Puerto Rico. Screenshot: WFAA

Frustration with Puerto Rico’s privatized electric grid is mounting, as roughly 82,000 people on the island of 3.2 million still lacked power on Thursday, more than two weeks after Hurricane Fiona plunged the whole U.S. territory into the dark.

Fiona rammed into Puerto Rico on September 18, five years after the much stronger Hurricane Maria triggered an islandwide blackout. In the wake of the 2017 disaster, the island’s grid was completely privatized by LUMA Energy, a joint venture owned by Canadian firm ATCO Ltd. and U.S. contractor Quanta Services Inc. Continue reading

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Intense heat and flooding are wreaking havoc on power and water systems as climate change batters America’s aging infrastructure

Volunteers distributed bottled water after Jackson, Mississippi’s water treatment plant failed during flooding in August 2022.
Brad Vest/Getty Images

 

Paul Chinowsky, University of Colorado Boulder

The 1960s and 1970s were a golden age of infrastructure development in the U.S., with the expansion of the interstate system and widespread construction of new water treatment, wastewater and flood control systems reflecting national priorities in public health and national defense. But infrastructure requires maintenance, and, eventually, it has to be replaced.

That hasn’t been happening in many parts of the country. Increasingly, extreme heat and storms are putting roads, bridges, water systems and other infrastructure under stress. Continue reading

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Political rage: America survived a decade of anger in the 18th century – but can it now?

Protesters used violence and intimidation to prevent federal officials from collecting a whiskey tax during George Washington’s presidency.
Archive Photos/Getty Images

Maurizio Valsania, Università di Torino

Americans have an anger problem.

People rage at each other. They are angry at public officials for shutting down parts of society. Or for the opposite reason because they aren’t doing enough to curb the virus. Democrats vent their rage at Republicans. And Republicans treat Democrats not as opponents, but as enemies.

Meanwhile, the American founders are being literally taken off of their pedestals in a rejection of the history they represent. And, of course, a violent mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in early 2021, trying to disrupt that most fundamental of U.S. institutions, the peaceful transfer of presidential power. Continue reading

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A Quarter of All ‘Critical’ US Infrastructure at Risk From Flooding: Report

“Our nation’s infrastructure is not built to a standard that protects against the level of flood risk we face today, let alone how those risks will grow over the next 30 years as the climate changes,” said one expert.

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 10-11-2021

Long Island Expressway in New York City shut down due to flash flooding from Post-Tropical Storm Ida’s landfall. Photo: Tommy Gao/Wikimedia Commons/CC

Underscoring the need to slash greenhouse gas emissions and invest in public goods to better prepare communities across the United States for escalating extreme weather, a new report released Monday finds that one-quarter of the nation’s “critical” infrastructure is already susceptible to flooding that renders it inaccessible, with risks projected to increase in the coming decades.

Described as the first-ever nationwide evaluation of community-level vulnerability to flooding, the report—Infrastructure on the Brink, compiled by the First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research group that specializes in environmental risk assessment—highlights localities where housing, commercial real estate, transportation networks, schools, hospitals, power plants, and other pieces of infrastructure face operational flood risk in 2021. Continue reading

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As heat waves intensify, tens of thousands of US classrooms will be too hot for students to learn in

Climate change means more schools will need to install or upgrade cooling systems.
Bill Uhrich/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Paul Chinowsky, University of Colorado Boulder

Rising temperatures due to climate change are causing more than just uncomfortably hot days across the United States. These high temperatures are placing serious stress on critical infrastructure such as water supplies, airports, roads and bridges.

One category of critical infrastructure being severely affected is the nation’s K-12 schools.

Ideally, the nation’s more than 90,000 public K-12 schools, which serve over 50 million students, should protect children from the sometimes dangerous elements of the outdoors such as severe storms or extreme temperatures. Continue reading

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‘This Is What Bipartisanship Looks Like’: Vicious Fire Tornado Caught on Film in California

“Climate policy isn’t about imagining a spectrum from left to right and finding the sweet spot in the middle. It’s a zero-sum battle with physics.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-8-2021

The National Weather Service shared video footage captured by the U.S. Forest Service showing a firenado that formed over the Tennant Fire in California’s Siskiyou County on June 29, 2021. Photo: U.S. Forest Service

Responding to dramatic footage that went viral Thursday of a so-called “fire tornado” unleashed recently in North California, a longtime aid of Sen. Bernie Sanders said the event—viewed through a political prism—could be seen symbolically as the destructive result of corporate-friendly policies in Washington, D.C. masquerading as bipartisanship while the world burns amid an intensifying climate emergency.

“This is what bipartisanship looks like,” tweeted Warren Gunnels, currently the staff director for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, which is chaired by Sanders. Continue reading

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200+ Groups to Congress: ‘No Water Privatization’ in Any Infrastructure Deal

“We urge you to reject this proposed water privatization scam and fight for a bold package that provides the support our communities need. Do not compromise on water.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-1-2021

Progressive advocacy groups are urging the White House and Congress to exclude water privatization provisions from any federal infrastructure package. Photo: Matthew Bowden – www.digitallyrefreshing.com

 

In a letter to congressional leaders on Thursday, 218 organizations urged against water privatization “in all its forms” and called on federal lawmakers to enact a “bold, uncompromising infrastructure package.”

The letter (pdf), sent to top Democrats and Republicans, was organized by Food & Water Watch, which has repeatedly criticized privatization provisions that the White House and members of Congress are considering for a bipartisan infrastructure deal that Democrats plan to pass alongside a broader reconciliation package. Continue reading

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‘Bombshell’ Secret Footage of ExxonMobil Lobbyists Sparks Calls for Action by Congress

“We demand Congress immediately investigate Exxon and fossil fuel companies’ climate crimes, and make polluters pay for their destruction,” said a 350.org campaigner.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-30-2021

Keith McCoy, a senior director in ExxonMobil’s Washington, D.C. government affairs team, was secretly recorded by Unearthed, Greenpeace U.K.’s investigative journalism arm. (Photo: Screenshot/Unearthed via Channel 4 News)

While ExxonMobil’s decades of sowing public doubt about climate science and the impact of fossil fuels have provoked various lawsuits, secretly recorded videos released Wednesday expose how the company continues to fight against U.S. efforts to tackle climate emergency.

Published by Unearthed, Greenpeace U.K.’s investigative journalism arm, and the British Channel 4 News, the footage of ExxonMobil lobbyists sparked new calls for congressional action to hold the oil and gas giant accountable. Continue reading

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Critics Warn $15 Billion Merger of Global Water Giants Would Create ‘Dangerous Corporate Monopoly’

“Veolia’s plan to dominate public water services all across the globe is becoming a terrifying reality.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-12-2021

French-based transnational corporation Veolia agreed in principle to acquire Suez, its main rival, for $15.5 billion on Monday, setting the stage for the creation of a water and waste management juggernaut that critics warn would be a “dangerous corporate monopoly” destined to “hurt consumers and enrich shareholders.”

The Wall Street Journal characterized the deal between the two largest private water corporations in the world, which is not expected to be finalized until May 14, as a profit-seeking attempt to “soak up a global surge in infrastructure and climate-change spending.” Continue reading

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America gets a D+ for school infrastructure – but federal COVID relief could pay for many repairs

Money from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan could go toward much-needed improvements to crumbling public school buildings. Erin Clark for The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Michael Addonizio, Wayne State University

Many kids are attending public schools this spring with the use of COVID-19 safety protocols, including more desk spacing, more frequent cleaning and mandates to wear masks.

But far too many of the school buildings themselves remain dilapidated, toxic and in desperate need of structural improvements.

On average, U.S. public schools are more than 50 years old – and by and large they are not being properly maintained, updated or replaced. The American Society of Civil Engineers graded America’s public K-12 infrastructure a D+ in their 2021 Infrastructure Report Card, the same abysmal grade as in their prior 2017 report.

But help may finally be on the way. Continue reading

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