June 14, 2021

 

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LATEST NEWS
 

Infrastructure Update

  • On June 9, the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) committee marked-up and passed out of Committee by a vote of 38 to 26, the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act, H.R. 3684;
  • The INVEST Act calls for $547 billion in federal spending over 5-years for surface transportation programs and is expected to be considered by the full House the week of June 28;
  • In summary, the INVEST Act calls for:
    • $343 billion for roads, bridges, and safety needs
    • $4 billion for electric vehicle infrastructure
    • $8.3 billion to reduce carbon pollution
    • $6.2 billion for mitigation and resiliency improvement efforts
    • $109 billion for transit
    • $50 million a year for investment in rural communities.
    • $95 billion for passenger rail
  • For the bill text and additional related resources, click on INVEST Act;
  • In other related infrastructure news, discussions over recent weeks between Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and President Biden ended last week with no agreement;
  • A bipartisan group of moderate Senators came together officially following the end of those discussions and as of last Friday, reportedly reached agreement on a $1.2 trillion over 8-years proposal for infrastructure funding, and the pay proposals reportedly include:
    • Establishing an infrastructure financing authority
    • Repurposing unobligated COVID-19 relief funding approved by Congress in March
    • A fee for electric vehicles to contribute to use of roads and bridges
  • Also, on June 10, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced the  Surface Transportation Investment Act (S. 2016), which proposes $78 billion over 5-years and is scheduled for Committee mark-up on June 16;
  • In the Senate, four committee have jurisdiction over a portion of surface transportation and the Commerce Committee is responsible for rail, freight, and safety programs;
  • On May 26, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee marked up and unanimously passed a bipartisan surface transportation reauthorization bill, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021;
  • That 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% increase over the FAST Act;
  • The current law, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act will expire September 30, 2021;
  • Disagreement remains in Congress over how to pay for infrastructure, how to define infrastructure, whether a broad all-encompassing infrastructure package will be considered or there will be several separate infrastructure related legislative packages, and the best procedural path forward in the Senate;
  • APWA Government Affairs continues bipartisan outreach to Congressional offices about the Association’s 117th Congress Public Policy Priorities, which are Surface Transportation Reauthorization, Water Resiliency, and Emergency Management;
  • 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.

House T&I Committee Passes Wastewater Bill

  • June 9, the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee passed the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act, H.R. 1915;
  • The bill passed by a vote of 42-25 with some bipartisan support and would invest approximately $50 billion in wastewater infrastructure over the next 5 years;
  • APWA supports this legislation’s efforts to address our nation’s critical wastewater infrastructure needs;
  •  APWA’s letter of support outlines the key provisions for public works, including:
    • $40 billion over five years for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund
    • $2 billion over five years for Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grants
    • $1 billion in grants to treat emerging contaminants including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
    • $1 billion in grants for alternative water source projects such as wastewater/stormwater reuse
    • $1 billion for pilot programs for watershed-based efforts to deal with major wet weather, stormwater, and climate resiliency issues
    • Commissions a study by the EPA on wastewater workforce development needs
  • During the markup, Congressman Garrett Graves (R-LA), proposed a bipartisan amendment that would extend National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit terms from 5 to 10 years for states and municipalities;
  • Congressman Graves ultimately withdrew the amendment with a commitment from T&I Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) to continue negotiations;
  • APWA supports this provision to streamline the permitting process;
  • Chairman DeFazio stated his intent for the legislation to proceed through regular order, including a conference committee with the Senate;
  • The Senate previously passed its drinking and wastewater bill S. 914, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act, on April 28;
  • S. 914 would also fund critical drinking water and wastewater programs, though at significantly lower levels;
  • APWA previously issued a letter of support for S. 914 as well;
  • APWA will continue outreach to ensure passage of a critical water infrastructure legislation in alignment with the Association’s 117th Congress Water Resiliency Public Policy Priorities.

House Schedules Votes on Disaster Relief Legislation

  • This week under suspension of the rules, the U.S. of Representatives plans to take votes on the following bills:
    • H.R. 539, the Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act, introduced by House Committee and Transportation Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO), the measure would require the Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator (FEMA) to waive certain debts owed to the United States related to covered disaster assistance provided to an individual or household
    • H.R. 2016, the Federal Disaster Assistance Coordination Act, introduced by Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR), if enacted the measure would include guidelines that instruct FEMA to conduct a study and develop a plan that would streamline the collection of information from disaster assistance applicants and grantees.

U.S. EPA and U.S. Army Announce Intent to Revise WOTUS Definition

  • June 9, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of the Army (Army) announced their intent to revise the definition of the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS);
  • The Clean Water Act prohibits discharges of pollutants into the “waters of the United States”, and EPA has defined which bodies of water are subject to regulation;
  • Most recently, the EPA under then-President Trump on April 21, 2020 issued the Navigable Waters Protection Rule;
  • This rule, issued following repeal of a President Obama-era rule defining WOTUS, established a new definition that reduced the number of bodies of water subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act;
  • In a statement about the 2020 rule, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said, “After reviewing the Navigable Waters Protection Rule as directed by President Biden, the EPA and Department of the Army have determined that this rule is leading to significant environmental degradation.”;
  • To implement this decision by EPA, the Department of Justice has filed a motion with the courts requesting immediate repeal of the 2020 rule;
  • In the meantime, EPA and the Army will initiate a rulemaking process to establish a new WOTUS Definition, with the agencies stating they would be guided by the following considerations:
    • Protecting water resources and communities
    • The latest science and the effects of climate change
    • Emphasizing a rule with a practical implementation approach for state and tribal partners
    • Input received from landowners, the agricultural community, states, tribes, local governments, community organizations, environmental groups, and disadvantaged communities
  • More details on the agencies’ plan for stakeholder engagement and the text of the proposed rule will be emerging soon;
  • For more information, please see EPA’s official announcement.

U.S. DOT Requesting Comments on Self-Driving Vehicles

  • On Friday, the Biden Administration released an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on developing a framework for ‘Automated Driving System (ADS) safety’;
  • The stated goal is to ‘define, assess, and manage the safety of ADS performance’ and allow for flexibility and innovation;
  • Comments will be accepted until November 2021 and more information may be found at Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the Office of Management and Budget.

U.S. EPA Proposes Rule Establishing Reporting Requirements for PFAS

  • June 10, EPA proposed a rule establishing reporting and recordkeeping requirements for per- and polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA);
  • This rule would require manufacturers and importers of PFAS since January 1, 2011 to report information regarding the substance’s use and disposal;
  • EPA will be requesting public comment on this proposed rule, but has not yet begun the comment period;
  • More information can be found in the proposed rule’s pre-publication notice.

ON THE HORIZON