Written by Gregor I. McGregor, Esq.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)is a $1.2 trillion investment, a good portion of which is for modernizing the energy grid, reducing reliance on carbon-based energy, and protecting areas most vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather.
There are lots of benefits for municipalities along with a variety of industries, including energy producers, financial investors, forest and agricultural interests, technology innovators and many others.
Clean Energy, Efficiency, and Electrical Grid Upgrades
Approximately $65 billion is directed towards clean energy, building efficiency, and grid upgrades, including batteries, carbon capture, hydrogen, nuclear, and hydropower, such as clean energy supply chains, carbon capture and removal, clean hydrogen manufacturing and recycling program, nuclear reactors set for closure, and hydroelectric facilities.
Also, there are funds to audit, upgrade, and retrofit residential and commercial buildings, grants for public schools, and weatherization assistance for low- income households. Large sums are allocated for grid resilience, grid flexibility, transmission lines, and Columbia River hydro.
Over $47 billion is allocated towards climate resilience projects, primarily addressing three types of climate-disasters: fires, floods, and drought. These include prevention and management, ecosystem restoration, fish passages, and road closures.
There are grants to reduce flooding in at-risk communities; funds for building the backlog of Army Corps of Engineers projects for risk management and aquatic ecosystem restoration; and more for NOAA projects to expand natural ecosystems, prevent shoreline erosion, and to create new flood mapping and modeling programs.
Finally, there will be loans and grants to at-risk communities and the FEMA Flood Mitigation Assistance program to assist state and local governments with reducing flood risk to homes and businesses. Droughts are addressed mainly through the Aging Infrastructure funding for the Bureau of Reclamation to fund water infrastructure upgrades and repairs.
Contaminated Site Cleanups and Brownfields
The IIJA replenishes Superfund for the first time in almost 20 years. Originally, CERCLA authorized a fee on certain chemical companies. These fees expired in 1995, and the Superfund funding ran out in 2003. The IIJA reinstates fees on certain chemical beginning July 1, 2022 until December 31, 2031.
The Act also makes billions available for five years to investigate and remediate Superfund sites, and more to clean up PFAS and other chemicals, reclaim abandoned mine lands, and plug orphan oil and gas wells; provide Brownfields grants and technical assistance for Tribes, states, and communities to assess, clean, and reuse contaminated properties (all state cost share requirements for this section have been waived).
The Brownfields funding will include both competitive and categorical grants to support state-led Brownfield redevelopments.
Water Pollution and Water Infrastructure
The IIJA allocates more than $66 billion for drinking water infrastructure, including. $10 billion in grants for states and water utilities to treat Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) contamination and $15 billion in Drinking Water State Revolving Funds to be directed toward lead line replacement.
Congress also made a $43.4 billion commitment for the State Revolving Loan Funds used to help water suppliers finance water infrastructure projects. The IIJA establishes a Clean Water Infrastructure
Resiliency and Sustainability Program at EPA to provide grants to owners or operators of publicly-owned treatment works (POTW) to address climate change.
Our air, water, sewer, stormwater, wetlands, flood control, electricity, cleanup, climate-related and other infrastructure are sorely in need, and now Congress and the Biden Administration have appropriated and directed $1.2 trillion in aid for repairs, deferred maintenance, improvement, and modernization.