May 15, 2009

Senate Committee Approves $35-Billion Infrastructure Bill

Environment and Public Works Committee approved bill that would help address $500-billion funding gap

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee recently approved S.1005, legislation that would authorize nearly $35 billion in water projects, E&E News PM reported.

The bill, which passed 17-2, would authorize $20 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and up to $14.7 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.

An amendment from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to study pharmaceuticals and personal care products in drinking water.

The bill would help address a $500-billion funding gap for water infrastructure needs and would help states and communities meet federal mandates, said ranking member James Inhofe (R-Okla.)

The legislation would also use a new grant formula, based on a 2004 EPA study, to distribute clean water infrastructure funds to benefit low-income communities, the news service reported. The bill also includes $1.85 billion for a nationwide grant program to address combined sewer overflows. Another grant program to help reduce lead in drinking water would receive $60 million per year, and a grant program focused on agriculture-related water quality would receive $50 million per year.

In March, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed H.R. 1262, a major water infrastructure and cleanup bill authorizing $13.8 billion over five years for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, has not yet passed legislation.