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Under President Joe Biden’s infrastructure program, thousands of new workers would be needed to improve bridges and roadways, repair water and wastewater systems and build a clean-energy economy.

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By Mark Richardson 

April 19, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — When President Joe Biden hosts a virtual summit on Earth Day, he’s not only seeking to engage world powers on environmental issues, but to reestablish federal partnerships with Utah and other states.

The president has invited 40 global heads of government to participate in the Leaders Summit on Climate, which starts Thursday.

In addition to reasserting America’s climate-change leadership on the world stage, he wants to help states reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and build a clean-energy economy.

Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City, believes the effort will benefit Utahns in many ways.

“It’s important to know that it puts Utah and the United States more broadly back in the driver’s seat, by reestablishing clean energy, and job creation and climate action,” Kitchen asserted. “I think that this economic priority is setting us on a course for massive economic growth down the road. So, this is a good thing.”

While the previous administration openly questioned the science on climate change, Biden has made the issue a priority, and recently restored U.S. participation in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

An American Jobs Plan Utah fact sheet summarizes the infrastructure needs for Utah, including repairs to dozens of bridges, thousands of miles of roadways and $4 billion of water and wastewater systems.

Kitchen argued the upgrades are needed sooner rather than later.

“Over the next coming decade, Utah is expected to nearly double in population,” Kitchen pointed out. “And so, that’s going to be putting enormous pressure on our housing stock, on our transportation system, and of course, critical infrastructure, like water.”

While 45,000 Utahns already have clean-energy jobs, Kitchen noted the number could rise significantly under the president’s program. He believes in a clean-energy economy, anyone who loses their job could quickly find a new one.

“These are jobs that will allow people to continue to stay in the workforce, even if they’re shifting from hauling coal out of a mine to building a bridge or building a road, or constructing an affordable housing complex,” Kitchen contended.

Prior to the summit, the administration said it will release the specifics of what it calls “ambitious climate action, and commitments to reducing carbon pollution and transitioning to a clean-energy economy.”Citation: Leaders Summit on ClimateCitation: Paris Climate AgreementCitation: Utah fact sheet