White House report identifies South Carolina infrastructure needs, opportunities

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South Carolina needs to invest $6 billion in drinking water infrastructure and 745 bridges and more than 3,780 miles of highway “in poor condition,” but the state has “outsized potential for innovative energy technologies including carbon capture and sequestration and geothermal energy generation, that create good paying union jobs.”

That is an assessment of South Carolina infrastructure needs and opportunities by the White House in state-by-state summaries published in anticipation of a Monday afternoon meeting between President Joe Biden and Republican and Democratic lawmakers regarding his proposed $2.3 trillion American Job Plan infrastructure package.

“For decades, infrastructure in South Carolina has suffered from a systemic lack of investment. The need for action is clear,” South Carolina’s state summary began.

South Carolina was one of several states that did not receive a grade in the Infrastructure Report Card, which spans 12 categories. Utah’s C-plus was the highest grade. Puerto Rico’s D-minus was the lowest. Among the White House's findings on South Carolina:

Roads and bridges: There are 745 bridges and more than 3,780 miles of highway in “poor condition” across the state. Since 2011, commute times have increased by 9.4% in South Carolina and, on average, each driver pays $564 a year in additional costs because of road conditions.

“The American Jobs Plan will devote more than $600 billion to transform our nations' transportation infrastructure and make it more resilient, including $115 billion repairing roads and bridges,” the report said.

Public transportation: More than 19% of trains and other mass-transit vehicles in South Carolina are “past useful life.” As a result, South Carolinians who rely on mass transit – non-white households are 4.4 times more likely to do so – spend an extra 53.8% of their time commuting than in 2011.

Resiliency: From 2010-20, South Carolina experienced 37 “extreme weather events” that caused $20 billion in damages. Biden is calling for $50 billion to improve infrastructure resiliency.

Drinking water: South Carolina’s drinking water infrastructure will require $6.1 billion in additional funding over the next 20 years. The American Jobs Plan includes a $111 billion investment in water infrastructure.

Housing: More than 267,000 South Carolinians are “rent burdened,” meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on rent. Biden’s plan proposes investing $200 billion in affordable housing.

Broadband: More than 12% of South Carolinians live in areas without broadband and 55.5% of state residents live in areas with only one internet provider. The American Jobs Plan would invest $100 billion in broadband improvements.

Child care: South Carolina schools need an estimated $90 million in improvements and 42% of state residents live in “child care deserts.”

• Manufacturing: More than 256,000 South Carolinians are employed in manufacturing, which accounts for nearly 17% of the state’s economic output.

“The American Job’s Plan will invest $300 billion to retool and revitalize American manufacturers,” the report said.

• Home energy: An average low-income South Carolina family spends 10% to 12% of its income on home energy costs. The American Jobs Plan would invest in the Weatherization Assistance Program and expand tax credits to support home energy upgrades.

Clean energy jobs: There were 46,527 South Carolinians working in “clean energy” as of 2019. The American Jobs Plan would invest in “creating more good-paying union jobs advancing clean energy production,” according to the report.

“South Carolina has outsized potential for innovative energy technologies including carbon capture and sequestration and geothermal energy generation,” the White House said.

Veterans health: There are more than 402,000 veterans in South Carolina, including 45% over the age of 65. Biden is calling for $18 billion to improve Veterans Administration’s health care facilities.





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