US President Joe Biden signs $1tr infrastructure bill into law

Janet Miranda

15-Nov-2021

HOUSTON (ICIS)–US President Joe Biden signed into law on Monday the $1tr bipartisan infrastructure bill which aims to invest in long overdue improvements to the nation’s ports, airports, rail, and roads, along with tackling climate change and expanding broadband.

“We’re taking a monumental step forward to build back better as a nation,” Biden said in a speech during the signing.

The bill contains an estimated $550bn in new spending above baseline levels for the next five years, touching every sector of infrastructure. About $650bn of the bill would have been allocated for existing transportation and highway programs under previous appropriations.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill, in combination with the reconciliation bill still pending in Congress, would be the biggest federal infrastructure investment in half-a-century, according to the Brookings Institute.

The following graph shows a rundown of top-line infrastructure spending.

Infrastructure spending, especially in hard assets, would significantly increase demand for chemicals and polymers. For example, highway and road construction would boost demand for concrete and asphalt additives, and industrial coatings.

The new investment in new electric buses and trains would require a wide variety of automotive polymers such as nylon, polyurethanes (PU), polypropylene (PP), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polycarbonate (PC), polyethylene (PE) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), along with synthetic rubbers and fibres.

INDUSTRY REACTION
The infrastructure bill would also re-introduce taxes on 42 chemicals as part of the revival of superfund taxes that would pay for cleanup of polluted areas called Superfund sites.

Many of these taxed chemicals are basic building blocks in the sector – such as ethylene, propylene, benzene, chlorine, and xylene – that could be used in building and construction, the production of light vehicles and water delivery.

The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) said in a statement after the signing that while the bill advances investment in recycling infrastructure with $350m in recycling programme grants, it is “disappointed” with the reinstatement of superfund taxes.

“The inclusion of key recycling infrastructure and waste management provisions demonstrates the bipartisan support from Congress and the Biden Administration to invest in the sustainability of plastic now and well into the future,” said PLASTICS President and CEO Tony Radoszewski.

“However, despite investment in recycling infrastructure, we are disappointed with the reinstatement of Superfund Taxes, which will increase costs for consumers,” he added.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has said in a previous study that 44 plants could be at risk of closing. The taxes would last until 31 December 2031 and are estimated to raise $14.45bn over a 10-year period.

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