$1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Legislation Provides Funding and NEPA Streamlining for Key Environmental and Infrastructure Projects

Downey Brand LLP

On November 15, 2021, President Biden signed the landmark $1.2 trillion infrastructure legislation package, more commonly referred to as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA or Act). The 2,700+-page Act has been touted as providing key funding to rebuild and modernize the nation’s roads, bridges, public transportation, broadband, energy and resource infrastructure needs. The Act also includes a significant amount of funding amount directed by the federal government towards cleaning up pollution and funding to protect the communities against the detrimental effects of climate change. The Act could help make significant strides towards the Biden administration’s goal of reaching 100 percent clean energy by 2035. In addition to the more-discussed funding provisions, the Act also contains substantive provisions designed to streamline the environmental permitting processes, particularly for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental reviews for “major projects” under NEPA, which includes most infrastructure projects being funded by IIJA, and amends certain NEPA streamlining provisions for infrastructure projects covered under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015.

Background -

In June 2021, President Biden signed off on an bipartisan agreement to allocate trillions of dollars in infrastructure improvements across the country. The agreement proposed to spend $973 billion over five years—totaling $1.2 trillion over eight years—on infrastructure projects. On August 10, 2021, the Senate passed the IIJA. After weeks of debate on amendments and tension along party lines, especially concerning what is considered “core infrastructure,” on November 5, 2021, the House approved the Act. There are several environmental and climate-related investments in the Act.

Originally published in Environmental, Energy, & Climate Change Law and Regulation Reporter, Volume 2, Number 4, by Argent Communications Group - January 10, 2022.

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