CRAMER: PRESIDENT TRUMP SIGNS INFRASTRUCTURE BILL ADVANCING SAFE WATER ACT AND CORPS REFORM
FARGO, N.D. – Congressman Kevin Cramer praised President Trump for signing S. 3021, the America’s Infrastructure Act of 2018 today, which incorporates H.R. 8, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018.
S. 3021, passed by a bipartisan and bicameral Congress in September, includes the WRDA’s authorization of Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) activities and builds on previous Corps reform efforts enacted in past two sessions of Congress.
“This bipartisan legislation continues efforts I’ve worked on to support investments in our nation’s water infrastructure, from flood control to helping communities improve their water systems and improving regulatory reviews,” said Cramer.
The bill incorporates H.R. 3387, the first reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act since 1996, which was handled by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on which Cramer is a member. It authorizes almost $4.4 billion over three years for the state drinking water revolving loan fund program, aid to states and utilities with compliance and asset management, updates to antiterrorism and resilience measures at public water systems, and improves transparency for consumers about the quality of their drinking water. Also included is an Indian reservation drinking water program directing 10 projects in the Upper Missouri River Basin to improve water quality, pressure, or services at Indian reservations in North Dakota.
It reauthorizes the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan program with some improvements for state loan funds, removes some Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) land use restrictions for the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Project, and institutes easement review timelines for accessing Missouri River water at Lake Sakakawea and Oahe.
The new law requires a study on the Corps’ economic and budgetary analyses that determine where project funding is directed. Cramer said this study is important for advancing public-private partnerships, such as the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Project. It also includes a provision to relieve FEMA open space deed restrictions for the purposes of constructing the Diversion Project.
The law includes policy to help access Missouri River water through Corps property by establishing a process and timelines for water intake easements. This includes 120 days for the Corps to make a determination on a complete easement application. Cramer helped institute the prohibition on water storage fees at Garrison and Oahe reservoirs in the 2014 WRDA, and this law extends it for an additional two years. It also includes a study of the future of the Corps, including transferring functions to other federal agencies.
The America’s Infrastructure Act streamlines the burdensome regulatory approval process for hydropower, including bills previously passed in the House: H.R. 2880, the Promoting Closed-Loop Pumped Storage Hydropower Act; H.R. 2872, the Promoting Hydropower Development at Existing Nonpowered Dams Act; H.R. 2786, to Amend the Federal Power Act with Respect to the Criteria and Process to Qualify as a Qualifying Conduit Hydropower Facility; as well as key provisions from H.R. 3043, the Hydropower Policy Modernization Act.