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Appalachia

Infrastructure Initiative

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This piece is intended to accompany “Water In Appalachia Needs a Trillion Dollar Solution” by Jan Pytalski, the first of a two-part series on water infrastructure in Appalachia, and possible solutions to problems at the federal and local level.

Here are some examples of language found in the actual document outlining the infrastructure initiative:

Currently, the Clean Water Act places a five-year limitation on the term of permits granted. This limitation serves as a disincentive to public and private investments in investor-owned and publicly owned utilities when major investments typically are financed over 20 to 30 years. Moreover, administrative resources in granting permit renewals can significantly impact the timeliness of permit renewal requests.

Lengthening the permit time limit from five years to fifteen years and providing for automatic renewals of such permits, if the water quality needs do not require more stringent permit limits, would bring more stability to such investments. (pp.42-3)

  • Reduce Uncertainty by Authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to Review and Approve Permits for Pipelines Crossing Lands Administered by the National Parks Service.
  • Current law delegates to the Secretary of the Interior authority to review and approve rights-of-way across lands administered by the NPS, but only for electric, water and communications facilities. For pipelines (natural gas and oil) and facilities necessary for the production of energy, specific congressional authorization is needed for each proposed project crossing one of these lands.
  • Obtaining congressional approval for each pipeline crossing and facilities necessary for the production of energy is time consuming and delays construction of needed natural gas pipeline facilities. It also is inconsistent with the process adopted for other types of facilities.
    Authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to approve rights-of-way for pipelines and facilities necessary for the production of energy across NPS-administered land in a manner identical to that for other facilities would reduce the delays and uncertainties caused by requiring congressional approval. (p.47)

With projects spanning several years, a project sponsor may need to conduct multiple studies to generate data on the same issue. While using complete and up-to-date data is necessary to make an informed decision, litigation risk should not be the primary driver in deciding whether to conduct a new study. Directing Federal agencies to establish guidelines regarding when new studies and data are required would clarify requirements and create more certainty in the NEPA process. Courts would be precluded from reviewing any claims based on the currentness of data, so long as agencies were in compliance with their established guidelines. In a case where agencies’ guidelines for the same data conflict, the guidance for the lead agency would prevail. (p.50)

Broaden eligibility of PABs. Current law includes a limited list of exempt facilities eligible to be financed with tax-exempt bonds. Additionally, different categories of exempt facilities are subject to varying requirements, which restricts the usefulness of PABs. This limits the potential financing tools that can be used to facilitate performance-based infrastructure, both for a wide variety of transportation projects and other public-purpose infrastructure projects […] Allowing privately financed infrastructure projects to benefit from similar tax-exempt financing as publicly financed infrastructure projects would increase infrastructure investment. This proposal would expand and modify eligible exempt facilities for PABs to include the following public infrastructure projects.

Existing categories:

  •  airports (existing category);
  •  docks, wharves, maritime and inland waterway ports, and
  •  waterway infrastructure, including dredging and navigation
  •  improvements (expanded existing category);
  •  mass commuting facilities (existing category);
  •  facilities for the furnishing of water (existing category);
  •  sewage facilities (existing category);
  •  solid waste disposal facilities (existing category);

Modified categories:

  • qualified surface transportation facilities, including roads
  • bridges, tunnels, passenger railroads, surface freight transfer  facilities, and other facilities that are eligible for Federal credit assistance under title 23 or 49 (i.e., qualified projects under TIFIA) (existing category with modified description);
  • hydroelectric power generating facilities (expanded existing category beyond environmental enhancements to include new construction);
  • flood control and stormwater facilities (new category);
  • rural broadband service facilities (new category); and
  • environmental remediation costs on Brownfield and Superfund

 

 

(pp.14-5)