Resilience in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)

 

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


Resilience Funding Overview 

The White House has stated that “over $50 billion” in IIJA is dedicated to resilience.See footnote 1 However, this figure understates how much IIJA money can actually be used for resilience and climate adaptation. 

IIJA contains programs — such as the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) Program, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Program (BRIC), and the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Preventing Outages and Enhancing the Resilience of the Electric Grid Program — that have the term “resilience” in the program title and are clearly targeted at building resilience to the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events. 

Other major formula funding programs — such as DOT’s National Highway Performance Program do not explicitly refer to resilience in the title, but are better integrating resilienceSee footnote 2 into the program purposes and eligibility as a result of IIJA. 

There are also programs — such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Community-Based Restoration Projects, DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program, and the Department of Health and Human Services’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program — whose program titles and listed purposes do not explicitly mention building resilience, but the program’s effect will build resilience. 

Importantly, across implementation of all of IIJA, Executive Order 14052, signed by President Biden on November 15, 2021, requires federal agencies to prioritize “building infrastructure that is resilient and that helps combat the crisis of climate change.”See footnote 3

Resilience money is allocated for specific investments in transportation, waste management, flood, wildfire, drought, coastal communities, ecosystem restoration, heat, building infrastructure, and more. However, all of the funding that IIJA provides must be used to build resilient infrastructure that can withstand the increasing and now often compounded natural hazards occurring across the country. At the Georgetown Climate Center (GCC), we see resilience woven throughout the entirety of IIJA, even if it is not clearly identified as such. Infrastructure by its very nature is intended to be built to last for decades; so it is imperative that as IIJA resources are invested, decisionmakers take into account the longer-term climate risks and vulnerabilities that science shows us are coming. And because climate is affecting every aspect of society, federal and state agencies must approach adaptation and resilience work collaboratively and in partnership with the private sector, non-profits, faith communities and more, working together to leverage all available resources to the benefit of communities particularly disadvantaged communities.

Express resilience funding features of IIJA include:

  • Energy, Buildings, & Development
    • Several 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, & Agriculture
    • Over $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 Infrastructure
    • Amendments 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.
  • Coastal Protection
    • Over $12 billion 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 context of transportation infrastructure and weather events and natural disasters. Now codified in law, IIJA defines “resilience” 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.See footnote 4

There is also a new definition of “natural infrastructure.See footnote 5 

The navigation bar on the right-hand side of this page can be used to find out more about resilience funding provided by IIJA in different sectors. 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

IIJA 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 Protection

IIJA 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

IIJA 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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