November 8, 2021

 

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LATEST NEWS


Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Passed by the House

  • Late Friday night, and after many weeks and final hours of negotiating, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA);
  • IIJA is a bipartisan bill passed by the Senate in August, and has been strongly supported by APWA as it most closely aligns with APWA’s 117th Congress Public Policy Priorities;
  • Specifically, the IIJA, when signed into law by President Biden later this week, provides:
    • A 5-year authorization of surface transportation programs
    • $550 billion in new federal funding for infrastructure priorities
    • 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
  • APWA Government Affairs appreciates very much the actions taken by APWA members to utilize our recently launched ‘Contact Congress’ legislative action alert platform to send over 1100 emails supporting the IIJA and urging Congress to pass the bill;
  • APWA immediately released a press statement applauding the U.S. House passage;
  • Neither the U.S. Senate nor the U.S. House are in session for legislative business this week, though both return next week to continue consideration of President Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) Act;
  • In addition to activity related to the IIJA and the BBB reconciliation package, Congress needs to pass all FY 2022 appropriations bill and raise the nation’s debt ceiling by Dec. 3;
  • Currently, the federal government is operating under a continuing resolution, H.R. 5305, through Dec. 3;
  • The federal government’s FY 2022 began Oct. 1;
  • APWA Government Affairs will be transitioning to the implementation phase of the IIJA in the coming months and will need the input of APWA members related to what is working with the soon-to-be law;
  • 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.

Crash Responder Safety Week Begins Nov. 8

  • Crash Responder Safety Week (#CRSW) recognizes all traffic incident management (TIM) response communities, including public works, and is being recognized today through Nov. 14;
  • APWA is a member of the Executive Leadership Group for TIM and as part of this effort sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration, APWA works with many partners in law enforcement, towing, fire, EMS, and emergency communications at the national level to improve safety and training traffic incident responders in proper TIM practices and coordination;
  • APWA President Stan Brown recorded a video statement to raise awareness of the key role public works professionals play in CRSW and protecting the traveling public;
  • Activities and events will be hosted throughout CRSW to include a kick-off webinar today, Nov. 8, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET. Register here to participate;
  • Be sure to follow APWA’s support related to CRSW on Twitter through @APWAGOVAFFAIRS and check regularly for updates. Please like and retweet;
  • APWA has been involved in TIM education and training at the federal level since 2015 and is yet another way in which public works professionals serve as first responders and work every day to protect public health and safety;
  • For questions related to APWA’s involvement in TIM and CRSW, contact Andrea Eales, Director of Government and Public Affairs at aeales@apwa.net.

APWA Board of Directors Meeting in DC Next Week

  • Nov. 16-17, the APWA Board of Directors will be meeting in-person at APWA’s Washington, D.C. office;
  • For a portion of the agenda, APWA Government Affairs is arranging meetings with federal officials from key agencies with jurisdiction related to transportation, cybersecurity, emergency management, water infrastructure, and leadership from the House Public Works and Infrastructure Caucus;
  • This is the first meeting of the APWA Board in D.C. since March 2020 and is important to promoting APWA’s public policy priorities with the Biden administration.

CEQ Proposes Revisions to NEPA Regulations - Comments Due Nov. 22

  • The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) last month released proposed revisions to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations and requested comments;
  • NEPA, signed into law in 1970 by President Richard Nixon, requires federal agencies to assess the environmental impacts of major infrastructure projects before approval;
  • CEQ issues regulations defining NEPA procedures, which are then implemented by other federal agencies through their own rulemakings;
  • In 2020, CEQ, under President Donald Trump, issued the first significant revisions to NEPA’s enacting regulations since 1978, aimed at modernizing and streamlining the process;
  • APWA issued comments on these revisions in March 2020:
    • APWA expressed overall support for the revisions’ efforts to streamline permitting processes and avoid duplicative regulations
    • APWA opposed the removal of cumulative environmental impacts from consideration in reviews
  • CEQ’s latest revisions plan to undo certain aspects of the 2020 changes in a ‘Phase 1’ rulemaking that will:
    • Allow agencies to base the ‘purpose and need’ for Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) on factors other than the applicant’s goals
    • Establish NEPA regulations as the ‘floor’ for agencies’ environmental reviews, allowing them to develop additional regulatory requirements as they deem necessary
    • Require agencies to consider cumulative and indirect environmental impacts in addition to direct impacts
  • A ‘Phase 2’ rulemaking is planned after this rule is finalized, which will implement broader revisions to NEPA, with CEQ’s stated goal being to, “meet environmental, climate change, and environmental justice objectives;”
  • Comments on the current rulemaking are due by Nov. 22, 2021. APWA will be providing input on behalf of public works professionals;
  • If you have any questions or comments regarding NEPA revisions, reach out to Michael Altman at maltman@apwa.net or (202) 218-6727.

EPA and Army Extend Deadline for WOTUS Roundtable Submissions

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of the Army (Army) announced Nov. 8 they are extending the deadline for proposals for roundtable discussions on the regional implications of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) regulations;
  • WOTUS defines which waters are subject to Clean Water Act regulation, and EPA/Army have announced their intent to revise WOTUS;
  • In their previous announcement, the agencies asked that communities submit proposals for roundtables that will involve stakeholders, including drinking water/wastewater management, agriculture, environmental groups, and more;
  • The agencies said the roundtables will specifically seek to understand the following issues:
    • Highlighting how different regions are affected by various WOTUS definitions
    • Learning about stakeholder experiences, challenges, and opportunities under different regulatory regimes
    • Facilitating engagement across diverse perspectives to inform the development of a durable and workable definition of WOTUS
  • Proposals for roundtables are now due via email no later than Dec. 1, 2021;
  • Roundtables are now expected to take place in early 2022;
  • For more information, see EPA’s official announcement.

CISA Issues Binding Operational Directive

  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued “Binding Operational Directive (BOD) 22-01” last week.
    • The BOD, in part, mandates federal agencies to address cybersecurity vulnerabilities discovered between 2017 and 2021
  • For those cybersecurity deficiencies discovered in 2021, agencies will have two weeks to address the problems, agencies will have six months to address deficiencies discovered between 2017 and 2020;
  • Additionally, federal agencies have two months to review and update their internal vulnerability management procedures to meet the stipulations of this BOD;
  • BOD’s are considered mandatory directionto federal, executive branch, departments and agencies intended to safeguard federal information as well as information systems.