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Water Infrastructure Bill Updates and EPA’s Regan on the Hill

On April 20, Michael Regan, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)Administrator, testified in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on American Jobs Plan: Infrastructure, Climate Change, and Investing in Our Nation’s Future. Along with Administrator Regan, the hearing included Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge. The American Jobs Plan proposes a $111 billion investment in water infrastructure, including $45 billion to replace 100% of lead service lines and pipes through the EPA Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act grants. EPA estimates that between six and 10 million homes in the United States and up to 400,000 schools and daycare centers have lead serviceWashington DC - Capitol Hill: United States Capitol | Flickr lines. According to Regan’s testimony, “We know from experience that water infrastructure investments not only improve public health—they also create good-paying jobs. Through our State Revolving Funds, EPA has already provided more than $189 billion in financial assistance to nearly 43,000 water quality infrastructure projects and 16,500 drinking water projects. This has created over 300,000 jobs in the last two years alone.”

On April 21, Administrator Regan then testified before the House Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee on the FY2022 EPA budget request, which would increase funding for the agency by 21 percent, or $2 billion. In his testimony, Regan notes that the EPA has “lost nearly 1,000 staff over the past four years.”

Meanwhile, yesterday (4/22), Senate Republicans released a $538 billion infrastructure plan to counter Biden’s $2 trillion American Jobs Plan. The Republican infrastructure framework includes $35 billion for drinking water and wastewater, roughly the same amount included in S. 914, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed S. 914 last month by a 20-0 vote and the bill could be taken up by the Senate as early as next week.  The Republican counteroffer may set the parameters for negotiations between both parties on infrastructure.