October 4, 2021

 

Due to the scheduled Congressional district work period for the week of Oct. 11, the next APWA Washington Report will be emailed Oct. 18.

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LATEST NEWS

Infrastructure Update

  • Over the weekend, President Biden signed a 30-day extension of the current surface transportation law, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, Public Law 114-94;
  • The legislation, H.R. 5434, extending surface transportation programs through Oct. 31, 2021, allows for spending authorization from the Highway Trust Fund and for continued authorization of all highway, transit, safety, and other federal surface transportation programs;
  • Democrat leadership in both chambers, as well as President Biden, would like for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), to be passed in tandem with the estimated $3.5 trillion over 10 years budget reconciliation bill;
  • The budget reconciliation bill seeks to address climate, education, health care, Medicare, immigration, and taxes—the “human infrastructure,” as declared by President Biden in his American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan introduced earlier this year;
  • The ultimate size and scope of the budget reconciliation package, paying for it, and the very thinly divided partisan breakdown in the Senate and the House, are the main challenges facing the budget reconciliation;
  • For awareness, the overall $1.2 trillion IIJA, which APWA supports, aligns with APWA’s public policy priorities and includes:
    • A 5-year authorization of surface transportation programs
    • Continuing streamlining duplicative permitting processes
    • Strengthening overall resiliency of infrastructure to include protection against natural disasters and cyberattacks
    • Investing in upgrading water and wastewater systems while protecting them from dangerous emerging contaminants
  • In addition to H.R. 5434, a continuing resolution (CR), H.R. 5305 was enacted to keep the federal government fully operational through Dec. 3, 2021;
  • To date, no FY 2022 appropriations bills have been signed into law, so the CR provides Congress more time to complete the spending measures;
  • The federal government’s FY 2022 began Oct. 1;
  • The CR also includes emergency funding to provide assistance to communities recently impacted by natural disasters, and extends the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP);
  • Specifically, the CR provides:
    • $28.6 billion in emergency funds for communities and federal agencies impacted by recent hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural disasters, including:
      • $5.68 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers ($3 billion of which would be used to accelerate flood and storm risk reduction projects and $2.08 billion would be used to repair disaster-related damages)
      • $2.6 billion for Transportation Department reimbursements to states and territories to repair damage to roads and bridges caused by natural disasters
      • $1.36 billion for the U.S. Forest Service to address damage caused by natural disasters
      • $1.2 billion for the Small Business Administration’s Disaster Loans Program
      • $60.0 million for White House expenses to fund Covid-19 operations
  • APWA urges all members to use our new Contact Congress advocacy platform, officially launched during PWX, to call for passage of the IIJA;
    • Please take 30-seconds to text ‘PWX’ to 52886 and you will receive a text message to opt-in and assist you in sending a message today to Congress supporting the IIJA
  • If you prefer not to text, please go to the APWA ‘Contact Congress’ page now and Ask Congress to Pass Urgently Needed Infrastructure Legislation;
  • 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;
  • Contact APWA Director of Government and Public Affairs Andrea Eales at aeales@apwa.net with any questions about APWA’s Government Affairs activities and priorities.

EPA Rescinds CWA Guidance on Groundwater Discharges

  • On Sept. 28, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officially rescinded a Clean Water Act (CWA) guidance document that was issued January 24, 2021, “Applying the Supreme Court's County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund Decision in the Clean Water Act Section 402 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit Program;”
  • The guidance limited which pollutant discharges into groundwater required National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits;
  • It stated that the discharge must be the “functional equivalent” of a direct discharge into the water;
  • “Under President Biden’s Executive Order 13990, EPA reviewed the last Administration’s Maui guidance and found that it was inconsistent with EPA’s authority to limit pollution discharges to our waters,” stated EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox;
  • EPA will now consider next steps for issuing new guidance on this issue;
  • For more information, see EPA’s announcement and the recission’s entry in the Federal Register.

EPA Releases Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2022-2026

  • Oct. 1, EPA announced the availability of its Draft FY 2022-2026 EPA Strategic Plan;
  • The document includes EPA’s mission statement, long-term goals, objectives, and strategies to achieve them over the next four years;
  • Goals include advancing environmental justice, ensuring clean and safe water, safeguarding communities, and ensuring chemical safety;
  • EPA is accepting comments on the draft plan until Nov. 12;
  • For more information and to submit comments, see the plan’s entry in the Federal Register.

CISA Releases Infrastructure Resilience Planning Framework

  • Last week, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released its Infrastructure Resilience Planning Framework;
  • The IRPF allows users to identify critical infrastructure and assess related risks while developing and implementing resilience solutions;
  • Additionally, the framework provides interconnected infrastructure systems background and how this knowledge can be incorporated into many types of plans such as for economic development, capital improvement plans, hazard mitigation, and emergency response/recovery;
  • The IRPF is targeted towards state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, regional planning commissions, infrastructure owners and operators, and large manufacturing clusters.

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

  • October marks the 18th year of “Cybersecurity Awareness Month," and the theme this year is “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart;”
  • Each week of October there will be a specific focus:
    • Week of October 4 (Week 1):Be Cyber Smart!
    • Week of October 11 (Week 2): Phight the Phish!
    • Week of October 18 (Week 3):Explore. Experience. Share! – Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week
    • Week of October 25 (Week 4):Cybersecurity First!

ON THE HORIZON