The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) (H.R. 3684, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) was signed into law on November 15, 2021. It includes historic levels of investment for infrastructure — $550 billion in new spending over five years and $650 billion for existing programs, totaling $1.2 trillion. IIJA includes numerous standalone acts, including the Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021, the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission Act of 2021, the Repairing Existing Public Land by Adding Necessary Trees (REPLANT) Act, and the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Appropriations Act. IIJA provides many opportunities for states, tribes, and local governments to invest those funds in equitable, climate-smart infrastructure.
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. IIJA 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 IIJA in the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021.
IIJA 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. In IIJA, there are programs whose purposes are clearly targeted at building resilience to the impact of climate change and extreme weather events (e.g., DOT’s Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) Program, FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Program (BRIC), and DOE’s Preventing Outages and Enhancing the Resilience of the Electric Grid Program), and existing transportation formula and emergency relief funding programs are better integrating “resilience” into program purposes and eligibility as a result of IIJA (e.g., DOT’s National Highway Performance Program). Conversely, there are also 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).
Also on November 15, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 14052: Implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. When implementing IIJA, the executive order requires agencies to prioritize six implementation priorities, one of which includes “building infrastructure that is resilient and that helps combat the crisis of climate change.” The executive order also states the establishment of the Infrastructure Implementation Task Force, whose function “is to coordinate effective implementation of [IIJA] and other related significant infrastructure programs within the executive branch.”
To learn more about resilience in IIJA, see GCC’s online resource, Resilience in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The White House has also released multiple IIJA implementation guides:
- A Guidebook to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
- Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Rural Playbook
- Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Technical Assistance Guide
- Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Tribal Playbook
Publication Date: November 15, 2021
- Executive order