Environmental Benefits (Impacts/Investment) of the Infrastructure Bill
On November 5, 2021, the United States Congress passed one of the largest investments in U.S. history. The deal includes $550 billion in new federal investment in America’s infrastructure. Over $55 billion of the bill is targeted for various environmental programs. While the obvious goal of the environmental funding is to improve and clean up our environment, the funds are also intended to create jobs in the process with a focus on underserved and overburdened communities. Below is a summary of some of the major areas where the investments will be made.
One of the major targets of the bill is focused on improving our nation’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure. The nation’s drinking water infrastructure has not kept pace with our growing population, and it has rapidly become outdated. This portion of the infrastructure bill has been touted as the single largest investment in water the federal government has ever made. Over $25 billion is directed toward safe drinking water to address lead service lines and emerging contaminants, such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These monies are made available to the states through the US EPA’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
Surface waters and protected regional waters are also targeted for funding with over $12 billion allocated to the US EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF). The CWSRF funding will address environmental impacts to oceans, lakes, and rivers. An additional $2 billion is targeted toward protected regional waters such as the Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes, and Puget Sound (to name a few).
From the remediation and redevelopment standpoint, $3.5 billion is targeted toward Superfund cleanup. While these monies are designed to accelerate the cleanup of Superfund sites, the monies are also designed to protect the communities and neighborhoods in close proximity to the Superfund sites. For redevelopment, $1.5 billion is targeted for brownfield revitalization to increase the scale in improving blighted and polluted sites. The brownfield monies are typically made available to states and municipalities through grants and loans.
Other environmentally related areas that are targeted to receive funding include $350 million for solid waste and recycling grants, which is designed to reduce the pollution related to inefficient waste management systems; $5 billion for electric and reduced-carbon buses; and $100 million for pollution prevention to help businesses get assistance to reduce toxic pollutants, cut water usage, and improve efficiency.