Bennet-backed Proposals Will Help Colorado Communities Recover from Wildfires, Transition to a 21st Century Clean Energy Economy, and Build Climate Resilience
Washington, D.C. – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet announced that he secured key provisions in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to build climate resilience, support wildfire recovery efforts, invest in water infrastructure, expand Tribal access to clean water, protect the energy grid, and help the United States reach its emissions reduction goals.
“From supporting wildfire recovery efforts to investing in carbon capture projects, this legislation is a good initial investment in building the 21st century American infrastructure that this moment demands, and I’m grateful my proposals were included in this bill,” said Bennet. “But with wildfires, mudslides, and flash floods tearing through Colorado, it’s clear there’s a lot more we need to do to protect our communities and fortify against natural disasters that have become more severe as a result of climate change. We need strong policy frameworks that limit climate pollution across the economy. We should advance incentives to accelerate the deployment of existing and emerging clean energy technologies while supporting manufacturing here at home. And we must make even greater investments in our forests and water infrastructure to build resilience and protect our communities and environment. I look forward to working with my colleagues to make additional investments to cut climate pollution, advance clean energy, and build an economy that delivers opportunity for all.”
Bennet Provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act:
- Provides $300 million over five years for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) to address an estimated backlog of $200 million. Bennet has continued to push for increased EWP funding to help Colorado communities recover from wildfires, and earlier this year, Bennet and U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) introduced the MATCH Act to remove hurdles to securing funding through the EWP and help communities act quickly to mitigate damage while protecting their watersheds and infrastructure.
- Provides $225 million over five years to carry out Burned Area Rehabilitation on National Forest System Land.
- Includes the Repairing Existing Public Land by Adding Necessary Trees (REPLANT) Act, legislation Bennet co-sponsored to remove the $30 million annual cap on the Reforestation Trust Fund which will allow the Forest Service to plant trees and restore burned areas.
Carbon Capture Private Activity Bonds
- Includes a proposal consistent with the Carbon Capture Improvement Act, legislation Bennet and U.S. Senator Rob Portman introduced earlier this year, which will make it easier for power plants and industrial facilities to finance the purchase and installation of carbon capture, utilization, and storage equipment, as well as direct air capture projects through the use of tax-exempt private activity bonds.
Orphaned Well Cleanup
- Provides $4.7 billion for programs to plug, remediate, and reclaim orphaned wells on Federal, State, and Tribal lands, consistent with provisions in Bennet’s Oil and Gas Bonding Reform and Orphaned Well Remediation Act introduced earlier this year. This will reduce methane emissions which will protect our climate, restore wildlife habitat, and create good-paying jobs.
Tribal Access to Water
Provides $3.5 billion for the Indian Health Service (IHS) Sanitation Facilities Construction program, which is consistent with the $3.4 billion provided to IHS in the Tribal Access to Clean Water Act to address needs for tribal sanitation facilities and services.
Also in line with the Tribal Access to Clean Water Act, the IIJA increases funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act State Revolving Funds (SRF). Both of which dedicate up to 2% of funding for Tribal communities, resulting in around $400 million in additional funding for tribal water projects.
Provides $1 billion in funding in line with the senators’ legislation for the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to support legacy rural water supply projects, which will benefit tribes.
Securing the Energy Grid
- Includes Bennet’s Enhancing State Energy Security Planning and Emergency Preparedness Act and the Enhancing Grid Security through Public-Private Partnerships Act, legislation Bennet introduced to protect the energy grid from cyber-attacks.
Western Water Infrastructure
- In June, Bennet joined his colleagues in calling on Senate leadership to prioritize funding for natural infrastructure restoration, resilience, and reclamation, including major investments in water infrastructure. In March, Bennet and his colleagues urged the Biden Administration to include western water priorities in their infrastructure proposal. Bennet supported several Western water priorities in this package, including:
- Provide the Bureau of Reclamation with $8.3 billion over the next five years.
- Fund aging infrastructure such as major rehabilitation and replacement activities.
- Provide grants to plan and construct small water and groundwater storage projects.
- Invest $1 billion in water recycling and reuse.
- Provide $1 billion to fund Rural Water Projects.
- Provide $300 million in funding to implement the Colorado Drought Contingency Plan, including $50 million specifically for the Upper Basin.
- Provide $400 million for waterSMART grants, and $50 million for the Colorado River fish species recovery program.
- Provide $500 million for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations to help reduce the project backlog.
In the upcoming reconciliation bill, Bennet supports more robust funding for wildfire mitigation and recovery efforts and water infrastructure. He has introduced the Outdoor Restoration Partnership Act, which would establish a $60 billion restoration fund to restore forests and watersheds, reduce wildfire risk, improve wildlife habitat, and create millions of good-paying jobs. Bennet also supports implementing strong policy frameworks to limit emissions, such as a clean energy standard and a carbon price across the economy. Bennet has also pushed for the inclusion of tax incentives to accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy technologies, including innovative nascent technologies, as well as those that support American manufacturing.