By Karen Stokes
This week Mitch Landrieu, senior advisor to the President of the United States, was in Milwaukee speaking at the One Water Summit.
The national conference focuses on sustainable, integrated, and inclusive approaches to managing water, our most precious natural resource.
In an interview, Landrieu discussed the infrastructure bill, active residential lead service lines in Milwaukee, clean water, electric heavy duty vehicles and high speed internet.
Landrieu, the former mayor of New Orleans said, “The President thinks that everyone in America has the right to clean air and clean water…period. That’s what his message was, that’s why he helped to pass this $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to build roads, bridges and airports and make sure people have access to high speed internet and making sure people have access to clean air and safe water.”
Milwaukee still has over 66,000 active residential lead service lines. Earlier this year Vice President Kamala Harris and Landrieu visited Lincoln Village on the southside.
They were in the city observing construction workers digging holes on south 12th St. as part of replacing a six inch water main. Five Star Energy Services replaced the lead service lines that provided water to homes in the Southside neighborhood.
“There are 10 million households across the country that are still getting water through lead pipes so for those of us who live in those neighborhoods it’s unacceptable to have our kids sucking dirty water from lead pipes,” said Landrieu.
“This bill invested $143 million which is dedicated to the lead pipe and service line replacement and another $31 million in safe drinking water investments. We’re doing this all over the country, it’s not just lead service lines, it’s getting rid of contaminants in water, cleaning up Brownfield sites, or dirty land that industry left and didn’t clean up after they messed up,” explained Landrieu.
The cleanup is already in action and it will take place over a 5-7 year timeframe.
As part of this historic commitment to environmental justice, the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is funding a significant amount of money to replace the nation’s fleet of school buses with clean, American made, zero emissions buses and Wisconsin will get a piece of this.
“The President is concerned for kids having to suck dirty air. I remember taking the bus to school and going to the back of the bus, standing there, when the bus drove off the exhaust blowing just almost killed me,” Landrieu said.
In May, the Biden administration announced a plan to expand affordable high-speed internet access for millions of Americans. The plan is part of the $14.2 billion funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).
“Twenty two percent of Wisconsinites don’t have an internet subscription so we talked to the companies and they are going to provide a low cost plan and the president is going to subsidize the low cost plan. If you live 200 percent of the poverty level, the government will subsidize that amount.” Landrieu said.
“We want to make sure that they’re not going to be doing their homework in the back of their mama’s car in a McDonald’s parking lot,” he said. We want everybody in America to have access to knowledge because all of us know that knowledge is the great equalizer.
Right now there are 849,000 people in Wisconsin that are eligible.
Visit getinternet.gov to see if you qualify and to sign up online.
“The President said if we elected him he wasn’t going to leave anybody behind and that’s what this bill does. Clean water, better roads, clean air and better bridges giving folks what they need to improve their lives,” Landrieu said.