ISSUE 235 | December 7, 2023

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From Around the Region and the State
Economic and Policy News

Train Service Restoration Remains a Priority in NEPA


The Federal Railroad Administration has granted funding to the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority to restore Amtrak train services between Scranton and New York City.

This project, which has been in discussion for years, is projected to bring vast opportunities in employment and tourism.

Amtrak has completed a $400,000 comprehensive analysis of the route, and early construction phases will begin following environmental approval and a completed development plan draft.

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Philadelphia's Tree Plan Can Help Cool Neighborhoods

A new program will bring thousands of trees to Philadelphia throughout the coming decade, to combat heat rises due to climate change.

The Pennsylvania Nature Conservatory has created heat maps to track the progress of The Philly Tree Plan, which will in part address the disparity of tree cover between neighborhoods of wealth and lower income.

Studies suggest that more trees will not only cool the temperatures of the city but may also reduce gun violence and improve air quality.

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Connected Learning Initiative Helps Bridge the Digital Divide


The Luzerne County SHINE program, run by Wilkes University, has been awarded $30,000 as well as 100 laptops for distribution to eligible K-12 students.

SHINE also provides access to DreamBox, an educational video game that specializes in improving math and reading skills.

These efforts to close the digital divide are aligned with statewide plan enacted by the Department of Community and Economic Development, which will increase broadband and technology access over the next five years. 

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From Around the Nation and the Globe
Economic and Policy News

Lawsuit Threatens Pioneering Maternal Health Program for Black Women

Black women are three to four times more likely than white women to die in labor or from related complications in the U.S., and Black infants are twice as likely as white infants to be born prematurely and to die before their first birthdays.  

San Francisco-based Abundant Birth Project addresses obstetric racism and provides pregnant Black and Pacific Islanders a $1,000 monthly stipend for medical care and healthy foods.

A new lawsuit alleging discrimination threatens the program, among other initiatives aimed at eliminating disparities.

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EPA Pushes for Replacement of all Lead Water Pipes in 10 Years

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed that all lead drinking water pipes be replaced nationally in the next ten years.

This proposal would also require that water companies notify the public when water samples display lead levels that exceed a specific (and recently reduced) limit.

Following the rise in concerns of water safety occurring after the Flint, Michigan crisis, the nation has prioritized transparency and safety measures for widespread water networks.  


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Federal Programs Allow Use of Transit Properties to Meet Housing Needs


The Department of Transportation has issued new guidance detailing how regions can reimagine underused transit properties into affordable housing.

This report also explains that residential projects near transit properties may be eligible for low-interest loans and other incentives.

The Urban Institute has released a series of recommendations for maximizing these opportunities.

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