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Senators Kent Conrad (Democrat of North Dakota) and Blanche Lincoln (Democrat of Arkansas) introduced a bill Monday that would direct billions of dollars to projects in rural America. The bill would invest federal money in water lines, housing, health care and new power generation and transmission lines. The two senators call their bill the Rural Revitalization Act of 2009.
A press release issued by the senators said the “needs of rural communities often go unnoticed in Washington, D.C., overshadowed by their big city counterparts.” The bill would spend $2.5 billion on rural water and sewer projects. It would add $3 billion to USDA’s broadband grant program and would add money for rural community facilities and for feeding programs for the poor. The bill would provide an extra $300 million a year in both 2009 and 2010 to help place health care providers in underserved rural areas. (A breakdown of the bill’s proposals can be found here.)
The proposal has a number of provisions regarding energy production and, especially, transmission. Rural coops would get money to expand electric transmission lines — and it would become easier to gain rights of way for power transmission. Bonds would be authorized to help pay for new transmission lines. The bill also has $5 billion for biofuels pipelines.