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House WRDA text expands feasibility studies, omits environmental advisory commissions

May 16, 2022   PoliticoPro

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is set to release its version of the Water Resources Development Act that differs from the Senate bill by expanding feasibility studies but excluding the creation of committees that examine project effects on low-income and minority communities already suffering from pollution, according to bill text obtained by POLITICO.


The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously advanced its iteration earlier this month. The legislative package, traditionally passed every two years, has become a source of bipartisan cooperation on environmental issues, with Senate Environment and Public Works Chair Tom Carper boasting that he consulted with all 99 other members of the Senate in formulating his version.


Details: The House bill text includes feasibility studies for 72 new U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects and for eight project modifications, while the Senate version included feasibility studies for 21 new projects and nine modifications. But while the Senate text includes the creation of advisory committees to provide the secretary of the Army input on environmental justice concerns, the House version does not. Still, it mandates that the secretary create education and outreach programs for under-served and Indigenous communities on Corps projects.


Both bill texts include the authorization of new environmental infrastructure projects for the first time since 2007 and add provisions for the Army Corps to address shoreline and coastal vulnerabilities owing to increased storms and erosion from climate change.

Neither text addresses EPA's state revolving funds for clean water infrastructure, which were included in the final 2018 WRDA, dubbed the America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. Those priorities were included in last year's bipartisan infrastructure package, with $2.75 billion authorized for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program and $2.75 billion authorized for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program for fiscal year 2023, though they were not fully appropriated in the bill or in President Joe Biden's FY 2023 budget request.

Both versions include funding for several local wastewater treatment projects.


A spokesperson for the House T&I committee did not immediately respond to a list of questions from POLITICO.

What's next: Individual member offices in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee received copies of the bill Monday and will be marking up the text at a business meeting Wednesday.

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