02.27.20

U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin and Marco Rubio Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Ensure American Infrastructure is Built to Last

The Built to Last Act helps ensure infrastructure can withstand extreme weather events

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) today introduced new bipartisan legislation to help local communities and private firms build stronger infrastructure that will withstand severe weather events. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) is also cosponsoring the legislation.

“In recent years, communities in Wisconsin have been hit particularly hard by severe weather events and flooding that has washed out roads, closed local businesses and damaged highways and bridges,” said Senator Baldwin. “As severe weather becomes more and more frequent, it’s important we equip states and local communities with the modern information and technical assistance they need to build stronger roads, bridges and facilities that can withstand the next storm or natural disaster. This reform will not only ensure we are better protecting our infrastructure, but it will also save taxpayer dollars.”

“I am proud to join my colleagues in this bipartisan effort to mitigate the challenges and impacts of a changing climate and empower states to plan appropriately,” Senator Rubio said. “Florida’s public and private building standards are already among the most stringent in the nation, including the requirement to withstand major hurricanes. The Built to Last Act would bolster our preparedness by improving the Federal Government’s capacity to share projections of weather-related risks to our communities and provide guidance for building codes, ensuring that the infrastructure we build in the future is more resilient to weather impacts.”

Extreme weather poses a significant risk to infrastructure, including roads and bridges, water and wastewater systems, government buildings and power lines that provide essential services to families and communities. According to the Congressional Budget Office in April 2019, the estimated annual economic losses from damage caused by hurricanes and storm-related flooding is $54 billion to households, businesses and government. These costs are oftentimes insurmountable for local communities. Moreover, extreme weather costs the federal government billions of dollars each year because infrastructure constructed and maintained by federal agencies, state and local governments, as well as private entities, may be paid for with federal funds, insured by federal programs, or eligible for federal disaster assistance.

The Built to Last Act helps ensure federal, state, local and private buildings, roads, and other infrastructure are more resilient to extreme weather events by equipping standards-developing organizations that issue building codes and other standards with the best available information on weather-related risks, including floods, hurricanes and wildfires.

Design standards, building codes and voluntary certifications can enhance the resilience of infrastructure to withstand the effects of natural disasters and extreme weather. Standards-developing organizations are the primary source of these standards and codes that public and private planners follow. These organizations often face institutional and technical challenges to using the best available forward-looking information to create design standards. The bipartisan Built to Last Act will help ensure these organizations are able to use forward-looking information in the development of standards that would increase infrastructure resilience and save taxpayer dollars.

The Built to Last Act will:

  • Require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to identify a consistent, federal set of best available forward-looking metrological information; and
  • Require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to make that information available to standards-developing organizations, with advice and technical assistance to help ensure organizations are able to incorporate this information into standards, building codes and voluntary certifications.

The legislation is supported by the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Planning Association, Enterprise Community Partners and National Ready Mix Concrete Association.

More information about the Built to Last Act is available here.