On July 1, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a $715B infrastructure bill titled Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act. The bill, referred to as H.R. 3684, will shore up the nation’s transportation and water infrastructure. The bill passed with a 221 Yea—201 Nay margin. The vote was primarily along party lines, with only two Republicans voting in favor of the bill. Those Republicans were Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Chris Smith (R-NJ), both of whom have been vocal about water pollution issues in their districts. House leadership hopes that this legislation will serve as a cornerstone in implementing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (see article above). The final bill contains several amendments that address contamination from lead pipes, PFAS, greenhouse gas emissions, and other environmental justice objectives. Some specific funding levels identified in the bill include:
- $117 billion for drinking water infrastructure and assistance, including $53 billion for grants through EPA to help states and utilities upgrade and fix drinking water infrastructure
- $51 billion to address wastewater systems and boost “green infrastructure” to protect waterways
- $45 billion to fully replace millions of lead service lines
- $8 billion for EPA low-income water assistance program
- $500 billion for transportation, including roads, bridges, and transit
- $109 billion for transit repairs, including upgrading to zero-emissions vehicles
- $95 billion for passenger freight and rail
The amended bill will also require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for PFAS substances, 1,4-dioxane, microcystin toxins, and chromium-6. An additional amendment to the bill that passed will require any wastewater infrastructure funded using the Clean Water State Revolving Fund or other Clean Water Act grant programs to first undergo a climate resiliency assessment, which would ensure that future wastewater infrastructure is designed and constructed to withstand potential impacts of climate change, including drought. Additional amendments focused on climate change and equity. For example, they include programs to give underserved communities access to electric vehicle infrastructure and transportation.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-NJ) indicated that a substantial amount of policy in this bill could serve as the foundation for part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework. A copy of the complete bill is available HERE.