In a May 27, 2020 press conference, House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) indicated her intention to introduce an extensive infrastructure package, which will include a focus on ‘green’ infrastructure. Both chambers of Congress appear to be ready to begin tackling this issue in earnest this summer. The package is expected to be modeled after the Democratic Moving Forward Framework released earlier this year. It proposed a $760 billion infrastructure investment over five years including $10 billion of funding for water resources. The $10 billion dollar investment will allocate $7 billion to critical construction funds to implement water resource development projects and $3 billion for the modernization of inland waterways. Additionally, it will apportion $50.5 billion to clean water efforts in the following breakout:
- $40 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) to address the existing backlog of identified state and local water infrastructure needs and local water quality challenges. Funding further requires states to address infrastructure:
- affordability by directing states to provide a minimum of 10 percent (and a maximum 30 percent) of their annual CWSRF assistance in the form of grants (or other financial subsidizations) to communities with affordability concerns
° resiliency and green investment by requiring states to utilize a minimum of 15 percent of their annual CWSRF capitalization grants to invest in projects that increase energy- and water-efficiency, or that utilize natural or nature-based approaches to addressing local water quality challenges
- $5.6 billion in Clean Water Act (CWA) grant program investment, including:
° $2 billion over five years for direct Federal grants to fund projects to capture, treat, and/or reuse combined and sanitary sewer overflows and stormwater
° an initial $1 billion to make permanent an existing CWA pilot program that addresses innovative wet weather, stormwater, and nonpoint source management projects
° $1 billion to create a new EPA program that supports installation of innovative detection and treatment technologies designed to prevent the discharge of industrial chemicals such as PFAS
° $1 billion over five years to increase investment to address ongoing nonpoint sources of pollution
° $600 million to support innovative projects to reuse wastewater and stormwater resources to augment existing sources of water
Of note is the reaffirmation of the existing Buy America iron and steel requirements that water infrastructure investments utilize domestically-produced iron and steel components in these projects.
- $1.5 billion over five years to assist states that co-implement CWA grant program funding, including energy- and water-efficiency, or that utilize natural or nature-based approaches to addressing local water quality challenges
- $3.4 billion for regional investments over five years including Great Lakes Restoration Initiative ($2.125 billion), Chesapeake Bay ($455 million), Lake Pontchartrain ($100 million), and others.
A copy of the Framework is available HERE.
In the U.S. Senate, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) also signaled that work on a possible infrastructure package will soon begin. The package will likely provide a substantial investment in various aspects of the national infrastructure including transportation, broadband, and drinking water and wastewater, as well as clean energy investments. In a May 29, 2020 Press Release, Sen. Hoyer said, “I anticipate longer days in late June and in July in order to accommodate votes on appropriation bills, NDAA, an infrastructure bill, ACA legislation, and WRDA.”
Some infrastructure transportation needs will be addressed separately in the reauthorization of the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which expires on September 30, 2020. The current version of the FAST Act allocates approximately $287 billion for surface transportation over five years. The new FAST Act legislation language includes a Subtitle on climate change that addresses issues such as diesel emission reduction and includes a Congestion Relief Program aimed at improving air quality.