APWA Washington Report
May 24, 2021

**Please note that due to the Memorial Day holiday, the next edition of the APWA Washington Report will be sent on June 7. 

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Senate EPW Committee to Mark-up Bipartisan Surface Transportation Bill this Week

  • On May 26, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee is scheduled to mark-up a bipartisan surface transportation reauthorization bill;
  • The current law, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act will expire September 30, 2021;
  • Over the weekend, EPW Chair Tom Carper (D-DE) and Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and colleagues, announced they have reached agreement on the bipartisan Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021;
  • The proposed legislation calls for $303.5 billion over 5 years to Dept. of Transportation (DOT) programs for highways, roads, and bridges and is a 34% funding increase over the FAST Act;
  • The draft legislation includes a streamlining provision to require DOT average no more than two years to complete an environmental review, which is an APWA priority;
  • Additionally, the draft legislation includes a climate title with $6.4 billion in proposed infrastructure grants to encourage states to reduce transportation emissions, and calls for $2.5 billion for electric vehicle charging and alternative fuel infrastructure grants;
  • Provisions related to safety, which is an APWA policy priority area for surface transportation reauthorization, are included through the proposed reauthorization of numerous road and safety programs;
  • In the House, the Chair for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (lead authorizing committee in the House) Peter DeFazio (D-OR) originally was targeting Memorial Day for the Committee to mark-up an infrastructure package, but timing has now changed to the second half of June;
  • Bipartisan discussions continued last week related to a broad infrastructure package between Congressional leaders and President Biden, though disagreement remains over the cost and scope of ‘infrastructure’ to include in a package;
  • President Biden proposed scaling back his $2.25 trillion 'American Jobs Plan' to $1.7 trillion;
  • Last week, the Senate Finance Committee, which in the Senate has responsibility for identifying how to pay for infrastructure, held a hearing on funding and financing;
  • Also, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on funding infrastructure using the tax code;
  • Please take a few minutes to call your U.S. Senators and Representatives to encourage them to pass a new surface transportation reauthorization bill before September 30;
  • You may do so through the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 which will connect you to the office of your U.S. Senators’ and Representative;
  • Please contact APWA’s Director of Government and Public Affairs Andrea Eales at aeales@apwa.net with any questions about APWA’s Government Affairs activities and priorities.

U.S. EPA Finalizes Changes to NPDES Test Procedures

  • May 19, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule changing test procedures used for analyzing wastewater and other samples for reporting under EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program;
  • The NPDES permit program regulates point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States;
  • These permits often restrict the quantity of specific pollutants that may be discharged, and permit holders must monitor and report these pollutants using approved test procedures;
  • EPA is adopting changes to the approved test procedures with the stated goals of improving data quality, increasing flexibility for NPDES permit holders, and incorporating changes in testing technology;
  • Changes include approving new testing methods and revising existing procedures;
  • The rule is scheduled to take effect on July 19, 2021;
  • Details of the specific changes being implemented can be found in the Federal Register.

FEMA Now Accepting FY 2021 Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grants Applications

  • Last week FEMA released information on Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grants (RCPG);
  • RCPGs were created to build upon existing regional capacity to manage catastrophic incidents by improving and expanding collaboration and preparedness;
  • Catastrophic incidents are defined by the National Response Framework (NRF) as any natural or manmade incident, including terrorism, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage or disruption severely affecting the population, infrastructure, environment, economy, national morale or government functions;
  • Applications will be accepted until 5:00pm ET on July 16, 2021;
  • Submissions must be made through Grants.gov. using Assistance Listings Number 97.111, or through the FEMA website at http://www.fema.gov/grants.

FEMA Releases COVID-19 and All-Hazards Operational Guidance

FEMA Releases NIMS Implementation Private Sector Fact Sheet

  • FEMA recently released the “National Incident Management System Implementation Fact Sheet for Private Sector Organizations”;
  • This tool was created for FEMA private sector partners to assist in their efforts to implement the National Incident Management System (NIMS);
  • NIMS is a comprehensive, nationwide approach to incident management that is applicable to state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments;
  • Additionally, NIMS was designed to improve coordination and cooperation between public and private entities through a wide array of incident management activities;
  • SLTT governments are required to adopt NIMS in order to be eligible to receive federal preparedness grants.

DOT Hosting Virtual Speaker Series

  • Beginning June 2, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) will kick-off a virtual Leadership speakers series focused on Innovation, Sustainability, and Equity in Transportation;
  • DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology and Chief Science Officer Dr. Robert Hampshire will be the first in the series that is scheduled to go through September;
  • The series is open for the public, though registration is required.

DOT Announces Expansion of Workforce Development Pilot Programs

  • May 19, DOT announced the expansion of workforce development programs under the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA);
  • FHWA’s Enhancing Workforce Development Opportunities Contracting Initiative is a four-year pilot program aimed at assisting state transportation agencies and contractors in recruiting qualified construction workers;
  • FTA’s Equitable Economic Recovery and Workforce Development Through Construction Hiring Pilot Program will be a similar four-year pilot program focused on transit projects;
  • More information can be found in DOT’s announcement.