The regulated community will carefully examine the impact of this important legislation’s enactment on environmental regulation and policy. The law is over 2000 pages long and complex, which may make it difficult to do such a review. Although the Infrastructure Act is primarily an authorization and appropriations law, it also includes many new policy options. This brief overview (which only scratches the surface of the law) focuses on some of the many environmental-related provisions that are part of the new law. The pdf version of the law can be found here.
The law is divided into nine sections, each with separate titles and subtitles. Division A is entitled “Surface Transportation”; Division B is the “Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021”; Division C is “Transit”; Division D is “Energy”; Division E is “Drinking Water and Wastewater”; Division F is “Broadband”; Division G is “Other Authorizations”; Division H is “Revenue Provisions”; Division I is “Other Matters”; Division J is “Appropriations”; and Division K is “Minority Business Development.”
It is somewhat confusing at first, but that is to be expected from a law that expresses the many policy decisions made by Congress.
Division A, Surface Transportation
Section 11301 codifies an amended version of the “One Federal Decision” review of the environmental reviews of transportation projects. (See the “FAST” Act, enacted a few years ago.) Major transportation projects will usually be subject to a 2-year review.
Section 11311This group is responsible for the efficient implementation NEPA review of federal land-management projects.
Below Section 11314Under certain conditions, states may be permitted to assume responsibility for categorical NEPA Exclusion. Subtitle D of Division A is concerned with the reduction of air emissions at port facilities, and the DOT will make a study of motor vehicle “idling.”
Section 11403The DOT must develop a carbon-reduction program.
Section 11520It is mandatory to study stormwater runoff from highways
Division D, Energy
Section 40105The issue of the location of interstate electric transmission lines is addressed. The Federal Power Act was amended to include licensing and rights of passage. Title III, Division D is entitled “Fuels Technology”, and addresses carbon capture, carbon technology, and carbon removal (using air capture hubs). The 2005 Energy Policy Act is amended, and funds are appropriated to EPA to enhance the use of Safe Drinking Water Act “Class VI” wells to inject CO2 for the purpose of geologic sequestration.
Section 40307Amends the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act in order to allow and permit carbon sequestration at the outer continental shelf. Subtitle B will accelerate hydrogen research and development—regional clean hydrogen hubs will be established.
Section 40434Mandates the preparation of a report regarding job losses resulting the cancellation Keystone XL. Section 40431 amends the Public Utility Act to require each state to “consider” means to electrify the transportation sector. The Methane Reduction provisions require the Secretary of Interior to develop a program to plug or remediate abandoned wells on federal land. Funds are then appropriated. Division D contains provisions that address Western wildfire prevention, control, and infrastructure for water supply.
Division GAnother provision is made regarding improvements to the Federal Permitting program. (See Section 70801.)
Division H, “Revenue Provisions,” reinstates certain Superfund federal excise taxes for specified chemical substances. The tax goes into effect on July 1, 2020, and expires at midnight on December 31, 2031. (See Section 80201.)[View source.]