The artifacts that I chose throughout March discuss policy relating to crisis and crisis recovery on the federal level and in Philadelphia. The artifacts regarding federal policy were chosen after sifting through articles that resulted from google searches using the key words “LIHEAP” “Biden Infrastructure Plan” “stimulus” and “energy assistance”, as I became aware of the various policies mentioned in these artifacts through my daily news and social media consumption. The artifact regarding the water rate increase in Philadelphia was chosen because our research team has been documenting PWD’s proposed 16.9% residential rate increase, which is a policy being proposed despite the water affordability crisis both in Philadelphia and in the United States at large, and now also coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic, where household energy insecurity, or the ability to afford basic necessities such as clean water, electricity, and heat, is exacerbated. Similarly, I chose the artifact regarding the Department of Health and Human Services announcement of the Low-Income Home Water Assistance Program because it highlights both the water affordability crisis in the United States and how the federal government responds to such a crisis, which may or may not prove to be as efficacious as it’s sister program the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). An artifact that provides a synopsis of the Biden Administration’s American Recovery Plan was chosen because the robust $2 trillion plan is predominantly dedicated to updating and greening the energy infrastructure in the United States, and includes funding for investment in electric vehicles, transportation infrastructure, public transit, and residential energy retrofits, along with funding for climate change research infrastructure, $111 billion to rebuild the country's water infrastructure, and $100 billion that would go towards creating affordable and reliable high-speed broadband access. Lastly, I chose the artifact which outlines both regular and pandemic related funding for LIHEAP and other utility assistance that have been released or appropriated since the COVID-19 began, as I’ve been tracking how LIHEAP has been impacted by the pandemic.
These artifacts help us understand how federal policies for energy assistance are manipulated during times of crisis, and additionally are telling of what policy makers perceive to be adequate responses to the economic and subsequent household energy crises generated by COVID-19. These artifacts also highlight the water infrastructure crisis in the United States and demonstrate how underfunded and poorly maintained water systems infrastructure has fueled water unaffordability, as water utilities have chosen to increase rates to pay for infrastructure maintenance since federal funding for such work is inadequate.
This artifact provides insight as to how I (Morgan Sarao, research assistant) chose artifacts for The Energy Rights Project's March Media Brief.
Morgan Sarao, "March Staff Picks - Morgan Sarao", contributed by Morgan Sarao, The Energy Rights Project, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 6 May 2021, accessed 1 March 2024. https://energyrights.info/content/march-staff-picks-morgan-sarao