Resilience in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL)

 

What funding opportunities does BIL offer for building resilience across sectors?


Resilience Funding Overview 

BIL does not have a standalone resilience section. Rather, resilience is integrated into various sections of the law, with program features designed to alleviate impacts from extreme weather, flooding, storms, droughts, heat waves, and wildfires. of BIL. Over $50 billion in BIL is directly dedicated to: (1) programs whose purposes are clearly targeted at building resilience to the impact of climate change and extreme weather events (e.g., USDOT’s Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) Program); and (2) programs whose purposes are not explicitly targeted at building resilience, but where the program’s effect will build resilience (e.g., NOAA’s Community-Based Restoration Projects, DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program, and HHS’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program). 

Resilience money is allocated for things such as transportation, waste management, flood, wildfire, drought, coastal communities, ecosystem restoration, heat, building infrastructure, and more. However, more of the funding that BIL provides could be used to build resilience. At the Georgetown Climate Center, we see resilience woven throughout the entirety of BIL. Aspirationally, with an eye toward building long term resilience and for wisely stewarding taxpayer resources, all of the money that BIL provides should be spent with resilience in mind.

Highlighted resilience funding features of BIL include:

  • Energy & BuildingsSeveral new Department of Energy grant programs designed to improve the resilience and reliability of the electric grid and “to enable sustained cost-effective implementation of updated building energy codes.” Funding to improve recycling programs, to help businesses adopt pollution prevention practices, and for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
  • Natural Resources, Ecosystems, & AgricultureOver $3B for programs related to specific important regional ecosystems (e.g., watershed regions) and related programs (e.g. the Coastal Zone Management Program). Over $8B provided for wildfire management activities across multiple federal agencies (USFS, DOI, USDA, and others) including fuels reduction projects, state and private grants for fuel reduction efforts and fire assistance, restoration efforts, and more. 
  • Water InfrastructureAmendments to Section 1459A of the Safe Drinking Water Act (Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities, 42 U.S.C. 300j–19a), which includes requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to create a competitive grant pilot program for underserved communities for projects that assist water public systems. Historic levels of funding for water infrastructure including for State Revolving Fund programs and a new clean water infrastructure resilience and sustainability grant program administered by EPA.
  • CoastalOver $12B for flood mitigation resiliency efforts across multiple federal agencies including Army Corps of Engineers, NOAA, and FEMA.

Resilience Definition

Notably, this is the first time the federal government has put forward a legislative definition of “resilience” in the specific context of transportation infrastructure and weather events and natural disasters. BIL defines “resilience” for the first time with respect to infrastructure projects. It is defined as:

A project with the ability to anticipate, prepare for, or adapt to conditions or withstand, respond to, or recover rapidly from disruptions, including the ability— (A)(i) to resist hazards or withstand impacts from weather events and natural disasters; or (ii) to reduce the magnitude or duration of impacts of a disruptive weather event or natural disaster on a project; and (B) to have the absorptive capacity, adaptive capacity, and recoverability to decrease project vulnerability to weather events or other natural disasters.

There is also a new definition of “natural infrastructure.” Both of these definitions are found in Division A of BIL in the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021.

The navigation bar on the right-hand side of this page can be used to navigate through Georgetown Climate Center’s BIL analysis and to find out more about resilience funding provided by BIL in different sectors. Georgetown Climate Center is currently looking into additional research questions about BIL. To learn more about these research questions, visit the  section. These pages will be updated as more information and analysis become available, so be sure to check back over the following weeks and months for the latest developments.

Natural Resources, Ecosystems, & Agriculture

BIL provides a mix of funding for new and existing programs related to natural resources, ecosystems, and agriculture in addition to creating new requirements for agencies. These programs are administered by the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers—Civil, the Department of the Interior (DOI), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (under the Department of Homeland Security).

Coastal

BIL provides a mix of funding for new and existing programs and projects related to coastal issues. These programs and projects are administered by the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (under the Department of Homeland Security), the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of the Army Corps of Engineers—Civil.

Preparedness & Emergency Response

BIL provides a mix of funding for new and existing programs and projects related to preparedness and emergency response. These programs are administered by the Department of the Army Corps of Engineers—Civil, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) (under the Department of Homeland Security), and the Department of Energy.

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