President Biden to Sign Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Monday
Benefits the bipartisan infrastructure bill will provide to Alaska
Posted & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN
November 13, 2021
(SitNews) Washington, D.C. – On Monday, November 15, 2021, President Joe Biden will host a bipartisan bill signing ceremony for his Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The President will be joined by Members of Congress who helped write this landmark economic growth bill and by a diverse group of leaders who fought for its passage across the country, ranging from Governors and Mayors of both parties to labor union and business leaders. The bill was presented to the President on November 08, 2021.
At the signing ceremony, President Biden will highlight how he is following through on his commitment to rebuild the middle class and the historic benefits the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will deliver for American families: millions of good-paying, union jobs for working people, improvements in our ports and transportation systems that strengthen supply chains, high-speed internet for every American, clean water for all children and families, the biggest investments in our roads and bridges in generations, the most significant investment in mass transit ever, and unprecedented investments in clean energy infrastructure.
In the coming weeks, the President, Vice President, and Cabinet will continue to travel the country to communicate how the law will help communities, grow the economy, and position America to compete in the 21st century.
The U.S. House passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on November 05, 2021. This is legislation U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and her bipartisan group of nine other Senators worked for months to negotiate, draft, and pass through the full Senate. The infrastructure package will now head to the President to be signed into law.
Murkowski said, “This bipartisan infrastructure bill is one of the most consequential legislative efforts I have worked on in my Senate career. I am incredibly proud and humbled to have played a leading role in the creation of this legislation. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act recognizes that Alaska is decades behind in having the basic infrastructure which many states in the Lower 48 take for granted. It addresses that gap by sending billions of dollars back home to put Alaskans to work building roads and wastewater systems, fixing bridges, and pioneering innovative transportation and energy technologies, all of which will benefit generations to come."
“I want to thank the many Alaskans who worked with me in writing provisions that address the needs of both our urban and rural communities. And a big thank you to my friend and colleague Congressman Don Young, for using his influence and platform in the House to garner support to get this across the finish line. As this historic legislation now heads to the President for his signature, I look forward to working with our federal partners to make these visions on paper become a reality,” said Murkowski.
Senator Murkowski recently highlighted some of the benefits the bipartisan infrastructure package will bring to Alaska - everything from making critical investments in our roads, bridges, rail, ferries, ports, airports, energy, water systems, and broadband, to strengthening electric grid resiliency and minerals supply chains, reforming the permitting process, and providing for wildfire mitigation.
Alaska Congressman Don Young released a prepared statement following his yes vote on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed the House late at night on November 05, 2021.
“Last night [Nov. 5th], I voted in support of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, commonly referred to as the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Our country is an economic powerhouse in no small part due to our historical support for infrastructure and other surface transportation projects. Perhaps more than anyone else, Alaskans know just how vital reliable infrastructure is to stay connected with one another and secure upward economic mobility. But I will be honest: when I take a look at some of our roads, bridges, and ports, I do not like what I see. I truly believe that this bipartisan infrastructure legislation may be our last best chance to make the federal investments necessary to modernize and strengthen America's infrastructure needs for the next century and beyond.
Was this bill perfect? No, but truthfully, few pieces of legislation are. However, I firmly believe that we cannot sacrifice the good for the perfect. Very frankly, inaction on infrastructure risks our nation's fundamental economic independence and strength.
Alaska is unlike any other state in the union. Our unique, often harsh terrain means we have very different infrastructure needs than the Lower 48. I am very pleased by the historic investments this legislation makes in Alaska. The bipartisan infrastructure bill authorizes $3.5 billion in federal Highway funding for Alaska over five years. This means we can rebuild, maintain, and construct new roads and highways to better serve Alaskans and keep them safe. The benefits for our state do not stop at highway funding alone.
The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) is an integral part of Southeast's transportation portfolio, and I have been a long-time supporter of their operations. In fact, it was my own legislation that made it possible for the AMHS to qualify as a "highway" for the purposes of federal funding in the first place. This bipartisan infrastructure bill builds on this progress by providing $1 billion for essential ferry service to rural Alaskan communities. Additionally, it provides $73 million for the construction of new ferries for Alaska, while providing funding for an electric ferry pilot program to help our fleet run cleaner. Finally, for the very first time, the AMHS, will be eligible to receive future federal Highway aid funds for operation and repair. To say that this bill is a game-changer for Southeast is an understatement -- this is a once-in-a-generation investment opportunity for Southeast Alaska's families and economy.
In addition to the support for highways and ferries, the bill we passed provides significant funding to support ports of all sizes in Alaska, including the Port of Alaska in Anchorage. Alaska also stands to receive $250 million for remote and subsistence harbor construction, which will help rural communities off the road system receive a true lifeline. From food and gasoline to medical supplies and raw materials, ports are essential for Alaskans in remote areas. In addition, this legislation takes needed action to fund the Coast Guard's unfunded priority list, which will benefit Coast Guard service members in places like Kodiak, Seward, and Ketchikan.
In conjunction with hard infrastructure, this bipartisan bill will fund projects of great importance to Alaska. The COVID-19 pandemic shined a spotlight on the need for fast and reliable broadband access. I welcome the bill's investments in our state's rural broadband connectivity, and I am confident that students, businesses, and families will benefit greatly from this broadband funding. I am especially glad that our Alaska Native communities will receive needed support to bolster their own transportation programs. This is especially critical as they work to recover from the devastation caused by the pandemic.
The Denali Commission is a crucially important agency to Alaskans. Since its creation by Congress in 1998, the Denali Commission has done needed work to provide utilities, infrastructure, and economic support throughout Alaska. Ensuring the Commission has the resources necessary to carry out its mission has always been one of my highest priorities. The bipartisan bill we passed last night authorizes $75 million for the Denali Commission to keep up its hard work on behalf of Alaskans.
I have made it repeatedly clear that I do not like the way this bill made it to the House Floor. It should have moved through regular order, allowing Transportation Chairman DeFazio and Ranking Member Graves to improve the bill. But there are no do-overs now, and too much of America’s infrastructure is already in the 11th hour of its usefulness. This is a solid piece of legislation that will help set the stage for the next century of American competitiveness. Alaskans have known for many years how close transportation is to my heart. In my life, I’ve driven tanks, captained boats, mushed dogs, and flown planes, among other forms of transportation. I have always stood up for our state’s unique needs, and it is my great hope that this bipartisan infrastructure legislation helps America continue to lead the world and better compete with our adversaries.
I am grateful to everyone who helped make this bill a reality, including our own Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan. I urge the President to swiftly sign it into law so that we can get people to work, and build the infrastructure future our great nation deserves.” [end of Rep. Young's prepared statement]
A list of the benefits the bipartisan infrastructure bill will provide to Alaska: (Note: unless otherwise noted, numbers are nationwide program funding over five years.)
Authorizes $273 billion in Federal-aid highway formula funding that will provide roughly $3.5 billion in highway funding for Alaska over five years to construct, rebuild, and maintain its roads and highways.
Provides $40 billion in funding for bridge construction, maintenance and repair. Of that, $27.5 billion will be apportioned by formula to ensure every state’s bridges are provided with needed resources, and Alaska should receive $225 million to address more than 140 bridges considered to be “structurally deficient”.
This includes $1 billion for the replacement of culverts, like the Schoenbar Creek culvert in Ketchikan.
There is an additional $11 billion for highway and pedestrian safety programs, including significant investment in the Safe Streets Program, which aims to prevent death and serious injury to cyclists on roads and streets.
Of almost $65 billion in total funding for Federal Transit Administration, Alaska is expected to receive $362 million over five years for a mix of transit formula grants.
Authorizes funding for reconstruction of the Shakwak Highway, the Alaska Highway from the Alaska border at Beaver Creek, Yukon Territory, to Haines Junction in Canada and the Haines Cutoff Highway from Haines Junction in Canada to Haines, Alaska, in support of the U.S.’s agreement with Canada.
Authorizes funding for Bureau of Indian Affairs road maintenance by reinstating the Tribal Transportation Program (TTP) Bridge Program and increases funding for the TTP Safety Funds by requiring better crash report data and forms.
Aligns the Department of the Interior’s process for expediting NEPA reviews for tribal transportation safety projects.
- Creates a new set-aside within the Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) for projects in rural areas. Of the amount apportioned to a State, up to 15 percent may be used on eligible projects, including maintenance of ice roads, or transferred to the Denali Commission. In rural Alaska, ice roads are critical infrastructure, serving as an important link between remote villages during the winter.
- $15 billion in formula funding for the FAA Airport Improvement Program which supports projects such as planning, installing and expanding runways, gates, and taxiways and improving runway lighting and navigation.
- $5 billion for FAA’s Facilities and Equipment Program, which includes funding for FAA-owned Air Traffic Control facilities and contract towers. Alaska, with so many of its communities accessible only by air, depends on safety in the skies.
- $5 billion in grants for a new Airport Terminal Improvement Program, which includes set asides for small hub airports, nonhub, and nonprimary airports, ensuring airports in communities of all sizes benefit.
- $1 billion for a new program that establishes an essential ferry service to support rural communities. This program, which was proposed by Senator Murkowski, will provide funding to the Alaska Marine Highway System.
- $250 million for an electric or low-emitting ferry pilot program, with at least one pilot to be conducted in the state with the most Marine Highway System miles - Alaska, which has more than 3,100 miles of Marine Highway, much of which is in Southeast Alaska.
- $342 million for the Construction of Ferry Boats and Ferry Terminal Facilities Program, of which Alaska should receive $73 million. Provides an authorization for recipients of funding under the program to spend on ferry “operating costs”. Alaska operators who previously received formula funds under this program in FY20 were the Alaska Marine Highway System, Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Inter-Island Ferry Authority, and Seldovia Village Tribe.
- Authorizes Federal-aid highway funds to the Alaska Marine Highway System to be spent on operation and repair.
- $5.25 billion for the Low or No Emission Vehicle Program that supports the purchase of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses and construction of supporting facilities – important to communities such as Juneau.
- $5 billion for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) Program to assist the Alaska Railroad with critical capital projects and rail safety technologies.
- Provides more than $180 million over five years for water and wastewater projects in Alaska through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) programs.
- $3.5 billion for Indian Health Services sanitation facilities. This will provide significant resources for rural Alaska villages in need of water and sanitation. Numerous rural Alaska Native communities are still unserved and lack access to in-home water and sewer. This unprecedented investment in sanitation infrastructure will clear all known project needs.
- $10 billion for states to address PFAS contamination through Clean Water and Drinking Water programs, with a focus on small and disadvantaged communities.
- Modifies the tax treatment of financial contributions in aid of construction for water and sewerage providers, to assist water and sewerage utilities in Alaska, so the costs aren’t passed on to consumers.
- Authorizes $230 million for the EPA Alaska Native villages grant program to support communities with new and improved wastewater and drinking water systems and to provide technical assistance for the operation and maintenance of these systems. Increases the federal cost share from 50 percent to 75 percent. There are currently 245 communities eligible for this grant funding in the State. The program has funded first time water and sewer service in Eek, Alaska, and first-time water service in Shageluk, Alaska.
- Provides $42 billion in grants to states for the deployment of broadband, with a minimum allocation of $100 million for each state.
- There is a dedicated carve out for high-cost areas for broadband deployment and $600 million for states to issue private activity bonds for deployment in rural areas.
- Additional $2 billion for tribes through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Grant Program and $1 billion for Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure grants.
- Allows the Denali Commission to provide the required matching funds for grant recipients.
- Provides $75 million for the Denali Commission, which funds economic development and infrastructure in rural Alaska.
- Permanently authorizes the FAST-41 permitting dashboard, which has saved infrastructure projects more than a billion dollars by substantially reduced permitting timelines for covered projects. This includes projects like the Alaska Gasline, the Liberty Project, and the Kake to Petersburg transmission line.
- Expands the eligibility of FAST-41 projects for infrastructure projects sponsored by Alaska Native Corporations regardless of size.
- FAST-41 has already reduced the environmental impact statement process for covered projects from 4.5 years to 2.5 years and this new reauthorization will require the permitting council to create the goal of further reducing these timetables to two years or less.
- Includes legislation authored by Senator Murkowski to improve the timeliness and efficiency for the permitting of critical mineral projects, like the proposed development of graphite near Nome, cobalt in the Ambler region, or rare earths in Southeast.
- $2.25 billion for the Port Infrastructure Development Program which provides critical support to ports big and small throughout Alaska.
- Provides $250 million for remote and subsistence harbor construction. This will go toward building ports in rural areas, many of which are not connected to a road system and in need of a port - a lifeblood to rural communities in Alaska.
- Includes $465 million for U.S. Army of Corps of Engineers’ Continuing Authorities Program, which will help smaller communities across the country.
- Funds $429 million on the Coast Guard’s unfunded priority list and for childcare development centers. This funding will support our Coast Guard personnel in Kodiak, Sitka, and Ketchikan. An additional $5 million has also been funded for the operational and maintenance costs of these efforts.
- Tribal Climate Resilience: $216 million is included over five years for tribal climate resilience, adaptation, and community relocation planning, design, and implementation of projects which address the varying climate challenges facing tribal communities across the country. Of that, $130 million is for community relocation and $86 million is for climate resilience and adaptation projects.
- Around 200 indigenous communities live along navigable waters, which they depend on for travel and access to hunting and fishing areas. The rapidly changing climate presents these communities with unprecedented challenges to adapt. According to the Government Accountability Office, at least 31 indigenous communities in Alaska are imminently threatened by flooding and erosion due to climate change. This funding will provide access to resources to prepare and respond to the adverse effects of climate change, including community relocation if necessary and supported by the affected communities.
Energy and Natural Resources:
- Includes $355 million for the Energy Storage Demonstration Projects and Pilot Grants Program, which ensure more efficient energy storage infrastructure.
- $3.21 billion for Advanced Reactor Demonstration Project, which will allow more headroom for micro reactors, an extremely promising technology for deployment in Alaska.
- Provides $146.4 million to carry out hydropower and marine energy research. Funding from this program is used by the Alaska Hydrokinetic Energy Research Center (AHERC) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and works to assess the feasibility and deployment of hydrokinetic resources in Alaska.
- Includes $264 million in funding for geothermal, wind, and solar energy projects. This will help the deployment and expansion of renewable energy resources in Alaska.
- Removes barriers to participation by Alaska Native and Indian Tribes in programs that are part of the bill’s Energy Infrastructure Act.
- Includes more than $4.7 billion for orphaned well cleanup, including Alaska’s legacy wells in the NPR-A.
Grid Infrastructure and Resiliency
- Includes a set-aside for Small Utilities of 30 percent of program funds aimed toward preventing outages and enhancing resilience of the electric grid. Most Alaska utilities would qualify for this set-aside. Fifty percent of program funds will go to States or Indian Tribes.
- Provides $1 billion specifically for rural or remote areas (populations not more than 10,000 inhabitants) to improve the resiliency, safety, reliability, and the availability of energy. This funding will help Alaskan communities and Native villages to improve overall cost-effectiveness of energy generation, transmission or distribution systems, providing or modernizing electric generating facilities and developing microgrids.
- Includes Senator Murkowski’s bill, S. 1400, the PROTECT Act, which enhances the electric grid by incentivizing electric utilities to make cybersecurity investments and makes available $250 million in grants and technical assistance for small utility providers that are not regulated by FERC, which includes many of the cooperatives and municipal utilities across Alaska.
Supply Chains for Clean Energy Technologies
- Includes over $825 million to strengthen our nation’s mineral security.
- $23 million is provided for the National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program, which sustains Geologic Materials Center in Anchorage.
- Includes $320 million for the Earth Mapping Resources Initiative that will help us better understand the quantity, type, and location of mineral resources in Alaska, like the Yukon-Tanana uplands.
- Reauthorizes the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program through 2031, which identifies mineral deposits and helps Alaskans map geologic hazards such as landslides, volcanoes, and earthquakes.
- Provides over $6 billion for battery processing and manufacturing, including grants for commercial-scale battery materials processing facilities. This could benefit firms who are looking to produce and refine battery materials such as graphite and rare earth elements in Alaska.
- Makes critical mineral development projects eligible for DOE’s Title 17 Loan Guarantee to receive financing. To date, over $25 billion has been distributed through the Title 17 program.
Fuels and Technology Infrastructure Investments
- Provides over $34 billion for carbon capture and storage and related programs, hydropower funding, clean hydrogen, and civil nuclear credits. All of these technologies have enormous consequence for Alaska.
- Supports Alaska’s enormous potential for hydropower - which could provide communities with renewable, affordable, and clean energy - by including incentive payments to upgrade hydropower facilities.
- Secures $100 million for the Bureau of Reclamation to establish a program for small water storage projects, including in Alaska and Hawaii.
- Repeals an outdated limitation on $18 billion in loan guarantees that has been set aside for an Alaska gasline, thus ensuring the gasline can access the funds.
Energy Efficiency and Building Infrastructure
- Over $6 billion included for energy efficiency measures across the whole bill, including $250 million for loan fund capitalization grants, $3.5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program, $550 million for energy efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, and $225 million for efficiency and resiliency code implementation. These programs will help Alaskans reduce their energy costs, put money back into their pockets, and help mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Natural Resources-Related Infrastructure, Wildfire Management, an Ecosystem Restoration
- Provides $250 million for decommissioning, road and trail repair and maintenance and removal of fish passage barriers, which is significant for restoring salmon and other fish habitat in Alaska’s national forests.
- Includes more than $3.3 billion to conduct mechanical thinning, controlled burns, fuel breaks and other activities to reduce wildfire risk on Department of the Interior and Forest Service lands, including in Alaska. The fuel breaks implemented on the Kenai, in particular, are credited with saving communities during the Funny River Fire. The bill also includes pre-commercial thinning important for subsistence resources and improving growth of young growth stands in Alaska on the Tongass.
- Provides over $2.1 billion for the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service to restore the ecological health of Federal lands and waters and of private lands, through voluntary efforts, via a variety of programs, including through partnering with States. Alaska will qualify for all of these restoration programs and projects.
- Includes a specific carve out of $20 million for construction, reconstruction, operation and maintenance of recreation public use cabins. There are more than 155 of these cabins in the Tongass and another 50 in the Chugach in Alaska.
- Includes $100 million for workforce training for firefighting and vegetation management that specifically includes Native village fire crews.
- Includes a three-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools Program to 2023. These financial resources provide a lifeline for communities across Alaska to support essential services, such as schools and roads, due to a decline in timber receipts and a lack of access to federally-owned forested lands.
On August 10, 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
passed the US Senate with an amendment by Yea-Nay Vote. 69 - 30. Both Alaska Senators Murkowski and Sullivan voted yes.
On November 05, 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
passed the House. On motion that the House agree to the Senate amendment Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays 228 - 206 . Don Young, Congressman for Alaska, voted yes.
Source of News:
Office of U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski
Office of Congressman Don Young
Clerk of the United States House of Representatives
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