The Rural Electrification Act was signed into law 85 years ago this month. It was a visionary infrastructure program for the 20th century, the centerpiece of a federal energy investment strategy that brought growth and prosperity to the South, the West, and across rural America. Because of these investments, generations of Americans were wealthier, healthier and led better lives.
Today’s energy infrastructure challenges are no less daunting. We must invest quickly and decisively to reduce emissions and stem climate change, and to improve our lagging competitiveness. New infrastructure must also deliver results on social equity, inequality, and systemic racism, 21st century crises whose solutions cannot be deferred.