Duckworth Secures Provisions to Expand Environmental Justice and Lower Local Cost Shares for Waterway Projects in Committee-Passed 2022 Water Infrastructure Bill
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chair of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water and Wildlife, and founding Co-Chair of the Senate’s first-ever Environmental Justice Caucus, highlighted several key priorities she authored and successfully included in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022 that passed EPW unanimously this week. The committee-passed WRDA, which now heads to the full Senate for consideration, includes more than a dozen Duckworth-authored provisions to help bring environmental justice to disadvantaged communities and lower inland waterway cost shares in Illinois and throughout the country, among many others.
“I’m pleased that the bill we passed out of committee will boost our economy, protect public health and create jobs through investments in water infrastructure,” Duckworth said. “I was particularly proud that many of the provisions I led to address environmental injustice were included, making communities at the forefront of these climate change resiliency issues a priority at the Corps. I look forward to seeing this bill pass the full Senate with bipartisan support soon.”
Key Duckworth provisions included in this year’s WRDA include:
- Establishing a federal advisory committee on environmental justice at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE): would provide USACE with advice and recommendations to ensure the effective delivery of water resources developments, projects, programs and other assistance to economically disadvantaged communities and Indian Tribes.
- Increasing inland waterways cost share to 75 percent federal and 25 percent non-federal: In WRDA 2020, the cost share was changed to 65/35 and was set to expire in 2031.
- Increasing Brandon Road Project cost share to 90 percent federal and 10 percent non-federal: In WRDA 2020, the cost share was 80/20. Read more about this project here.
- Prioritizing Chicago shoreline storm damage reduction project: urges prioritizing funding for the project and expediting the General Reevaluation Report (GRR) needed to expand the project and mitigate the significant impacts of climate change on the Chicago Shoreline.
- Creating Chicago Shoreline local match reduction: would direct USACE to use the locally preferred plan as basis for the cost share of the remaining Chicago Shoreline projects, lowering the cost share of the remaining Chicago Shoreline projects.
- Creating shoreline resiliency authority for the Great Lakes: allows USACE to carry out projects for the protection and restoration of coastal shorelines and riverbanks, including non-structural and structural solutions.
- Making the Pilot Program on Corps of Engineers Projects in Rural and Economically Disadvantaged Communities permanent: would fully authorize the pilot program established by WRDA 2020 and allow for projects of diverse types and in diverse terrain and areas that would not normally qualify for USACE projects.
- Increasing authorization levels for Madison and St. Clair Counties Section 219 Authority: would increase environmental infrastructure project authority in the Metro East from $45 million to $100 million, which can benefit municipalities like Cahokia Heights.
- Expanding Cook County’s Section 219 authority and increased authorization: expansion will include Lake County and increases the total projects authorized from $35 million to $100 million.
- Increasing authorization for Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program: would increase funding from $40 million to $75 million for UMMR, which plays a vital role in promoting projects to improve the viability and vitality of the Upper Mississippi River System’s diverse and significant fish and wildlife resources.
- Coordinating environmental remediation: directs USACE to coordinate with federal, regional and state authorities on toxics remediation when carrying out the project for ecosystem restoration on South Fork of the South Branch of the Chicago River in Bubbly Creek, Illinois.
- Amending advance measures assistance on Great Lakes to reduce the risk of damage from rising water levels: prohibits USACE from denying advance measures assistance requests by states solely on the basis that the damage is caused by erosion.
- Eliminating four state contracts with USACE for locally used water supply from federal reservoirs in Illinois: terminates water supply contracts with the State of Illinois at Rend Lake, Carlyle Lake and Lake Shelbyville, which will save Illinois nearly $1 million.
- Requesting priority completion of Ecosystem Restoration projects: specifically on the Fox and Chicago rivers.
- Requiring Upper Mississippi River and Illinois water level management: critical in maintaining the long-term sustainability of this significant navigation and ecological system of the Upper Mississippi River System.
- Rehabilitating non-federal pump stations: allows USACE to rehabilitate non-federal pump stations if they are integral to the operation of USACE projects or for flood or coastal storm risk management.
- Allowing USACE to provide planning assistance for resilience to states with priority for disadvantaged communities.
- Reducing non-federal cost share of 10 percent for protection and restoration of coastal shorelines projects that benefit economically disadvantaged communities.
- Enhancing workforce development in water STEM and water infrastructure with a focus on disadvantaged communities.
- Completing and maintaining a model suite to forecast water levels of the Great Lakes.
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