APWA Washington Report
April 26, 2021


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LATEST NEWS

Water Week 2021 Begins

  • APWA is proud to be a member of the Water Association Partners supporting Water Week 2021 taking place April 25 through May 1;
  • Water Week serves as an opportunity to elevate the importance of policies that ensure water resiliency to Congress, the White House, and key federal agencies;
  • This week is especially urgent at a time when the Biden administration and Congress are actively debating legislative proposals to improve water and wastewater infrastructure, address emerging contaminants such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and strengthen the water workforce;
  • APWA Government Affairs staff will continue our outreach to inform policymakers of the essential role public works agencies play in providing clean water, wastewater treatment, stormwater management, and the overall protection of public health;
  • As APWA members, you can get involved in Water Week in several ways;
  • If you have any questions regarding Water Week, contact Government Affairs Manager Michael Altman at maltman@apwa.net.

APWA Issues Action Alert on Key Water Infrastructure Bill

  • As reported in the April 19 Washington Report, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote soon on S. 914, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act, a bipartisan bill that would authorize $35 billion in water and wastewater funding/financing over 5 years;
  • Last week, APWA issued an action alert calling on our members to voice support for this critical legislation to your U.S. Senators;
  • The vote was ultimately postponed to this week – if you have not already, please take 1-2 minutes to urge your Senators to pass this bill using APWA's action alert

Senate Republicans Introduce Infrastructure Framework

  • On April 22, Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) led the introduction of a $568 billion, over 5 years, framework for a Republican infrastructure counter proposal to President Biden’s 'American Jobs Plan' introduced last month;
  • Senator Capito serves as Ranking Member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and she was joined by four Republican colleagues (Roger Wicker (MS), Pat Toomey (PA), John Barrasso (WY), and Mike Crapo (ID)), in calling for:
    • $299 billion for roads and bridges
    • $61 billion for transit
    • $20 billion for rail
    • $13 billion for safety
    • $17 billion for inland waterways and ports
    • $35 billion for water and wastewater infrastructure
    • $44 billion for airports
    • $65 billion for broadband
    • $14 billion for water storage
  • The framework sticks to more typical infrastructure and the Senators call for user fees on electric vehicles and for reallocating unused federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan (Public Law 117-2) signed into law on March 11, to pay for the plan;
  • In recent weeks President Biden has been holding bipartisan meetings at the White House focused on infrastructure;
  • The lead authorizing committees in the House and the Senate are intending to mark-up infrastructure focused legislation prior to Memorial Day, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has said the House will pass an infrastructure bill by July 4.

U.S. Senate Confirms Deanne Criswell as FEMA Administrator

  • April 22, the U.S. Senate confirmed Deanne Criswell to serve as Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator;
  • Prior to her confirmation she served as the Commissioner of the New York City Emergency Management Department;
  • She also previously worked at FEMA, leading the Incident Command division during the Obama Administration;
  • Ms. Criswell will become the first woman to lead the Agency since its establishment in 1979.

APWA Government Affairs to Lead APWA Region VIII Advocacy Training

  • On April 29, APWA’s Director of Government and Public Affairs Andrea Eales and Government Affairs Manager Marty Williams will lead a virtual advocacy training to APWA’s Region VIII Chapters;
  • The virtual training is primarily for California members in Region VIII to prepare for participating in an upcoming virtual Legislative Visit Week, May 10-14, where APWA members and members of four other state organizations will be meeting with California state legislators;
  • The Legislative Visit Week will provide a terrific opportunity for public works advocacy at the state level;
  • If your chapter is interested in a virtual advocacy training session, please be sure to contact Andrea at aeales@apwa.net and the APWA Government Affairs team can tailor a session to assist in meeting your chapter’s advocacy goals. 

President Biden Nominates Richard Spinrad to Lead NOAA

  • Last week, President Biden nominated Richard Spinrad to serve as the next National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator;
  • Mr. Spinrad is currently a professor of oceanography at Oregon State University;
  • Prior to that, he worked as NOAA’s chief scientist during the Obama Administration;
  • Potential dates for Senate confirmation hearings have yet to be announced.

FEMA Seeking Comments on Improving Operations

  • Last week, FEMA announced it is seeking feedback to help improve current program guidelines by examining:
    • Agency programs and policies that may be perpetuating systemic barriers to underserved groups
    • Agency actions that may be required to bolster resilience to climate change
    • Addressing the disproportionately high and adverse climate-related impacts on disadvantaged communities
  • For additional information on the FEMA announcement – click here;
  • You may submit comments through the federal portal at regulations.gov and include the Docket ID, FEMA-2021-0011;
  • Comments will be accepted through June 21, 2021.

White House Environmental Justice Council to Meet in April and May

  • April 20, the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) announced virtual meetings to be held on April 28 and May 13;
  • The WHEJAC Charter states that it will provide independent advice and recommendations to the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and to the White House Interagency Council on Environmental Justice (Interagency Council);
  • WHEJAC is tasked with advising how to increase the Federal Government’s efforts to address current and historic environmental justice;
  • WHEJAC held its first meeting March 30, where the council members were introduced and began initial discussions;
  • You can learn more about the meetings and register to attend here.

U.S. EPA Releases Funding for Technical Assistance to Brownfields Program

  • April 20, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the selection of six organizations to receive $11 million in grants to assist communities dealing with contaminated properties known as brownfields;
  • This funding was distributed through the Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) program;
  • The organizations include universities and non-profit organizations that will assist communities in areas including:
    • Identifying brownfields
    • Assessing public health impacts
    • Application for EPA brownfields grants
  • More information on the program and the selected providers is available here.

ON THE HORIZON