With the enactment of this important legislation, its impact on environmental regulation and policy will be carefully analyzed by the regulated community. Such a review may be hampered by the fact that the law is not only complex but also very long (over 2000 pages!). The Infrastructure Act is mostly an appropriations and authorization law, but it includes many new policy choices. This is a brief review (which can only scratch the surface of this law) of some of the many environmentally related provisions, which are part of this new law and can be located in the pdf version of the law.
The law is composed of nine separate divisions, which are further divided into 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 bewildering on first reading, as befits a law that is expressing the manifold policy decisions made by the 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 generally be subject to a two-year review schedule.
Section 11311 is concerned with the efficient implementation of NEPA review of federal land management projects.
Under Section 11314, states may be allowed to assume responsibility for categorical NEPA exclusion, subject to conditions. 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 11403 addresses the need for the DOT to develop a carbon reduction program.
Section 11520 mandates a study of highway stormwater runoff .
Division D, Energy
Section 40105 addresses the siting of interstate electric transmission corridors. The Federal Power Act is amended with respect to licensing and rights of way. Title III of 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 40307 amends the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to allow and permit carbon sequestration on the outer continental shelf. Subtitle B will accelerate hydrogen research and development—regional clean hydrogen hubs will be established.
Section 40434 mandates the preparation of a report on the job losses resulting from the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. Section 40431 amends the Public Utility Act to require each state to “consider” means to electrify the transportation sector. The Methane Reduction provisions requite the Secretary of the Interior to promptly develop a program to plug, or remediate abandoned wells oi federal land, and funds are appropriated. There are provisions in Division D that address Western wildfire prevention and control and Western water infrastructure.
Division G contains another provision regarding improvements in the Federal Permitting program. (See Section 70801.)
Division H, “Revenue Provisions,” reinstates certain Superfund federal excise taxes for specified chemical substances. The tax is effective on July1, 2020, and expires on December 31, 2031. (See Section 80201.)