Biden's American Jobs Plan - What's in it for Oceans?

On Wednesday, March 31, President Biden announced his American Jobs Plan, which is the first in his two part Build Back Better campaign. The second part will focus on some Democrats’ more progressive goals, such as making the expanded child tax credit permanent, investing in child care, increasing the minimum wage, and making community college tuition free. The second part is expected to be announced in mid-April.

The American Jobs Plan comes in at more than $2 trillion over eight years and is estimated to be paid off in 15 years when coupled with a corporate tax hike from 21 to 28 percent. As Senior White House officials put it, the plan would affect how we move, how we live at home, how we care for one another, and how we manufacture. The plan is intended to, “unify and mobilize the country to meet the great challenges of our time: the climate crisis and the ambitions of an autocratic China.”

What’s in it for oceans?

The main focus of the plan is on job creation and more traditional infrastructure with a major focus on climate change mitigation and resilience. A total of $621 billion for transportation infrastructure and resilience included only $17 billion allocated to ports. This sum does not reflect the importance of our ports and working waterways to the U.S. economy, and as we saw with the incident in the Suez Canal this week, ocean infrastructure is a critical piece of our global economy.

The plan funds infrastructure resilience at $50 billion, though it is unclear what portion of that would go to coastal resilience, and they make mention of protecting and restoring nature-based infrastructure including coastal and ocean resources, but provided no further details.

Research and development get a major boost in this plan, including $50 billion for NSF and $35 billion to create an Advanced Research Projects Agency - Climate (ARPA-C) to position the U.S. as a leader on clean energy and climate resilience. The plan also calls on Congress to invest $10 billion in a new Civilian Climate Corps that could include coastal projects.

A full breakdown of these ocean-relevant sections of the plan can be found below.