Underground Construction - August 2017 - 8

WASHINGTONWATCH
EPA
Finalizes
WIFIA Fee
Rules,
Congress
Provides
Additional
Funding

T

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took another major step toward issuing its first credit subsidies
for water infrastructure projects. It
published a final rule in June, specifying fees it would charge counties
and cities expected to vie for money
in the first round of funding under
the Water Infrastructure Finance
and Innovation (WIFIA) fund, which
is meant to supplement federal
loans from the Drinking Water and
Clean Water State Revolving Funds.
Congress passed WIFIA in 2014,
and it has been struggling to get off
the ground ever since. The agency is
vetting 43 applicants vying for credit
subsidies of $25 million which could
support $1.5 billion in infrastructure
projects.
In a belated show of support for
the program, the Senate and House
in May added an extra $8 million to
the WIFIA credit subsidy pot in the
current fiscal year, 2017, which began Oct. 1, 2016. This was on top of
the $17 million for fiscal 2017 previously cleared in December 2016.
"I do believe our warnings and
the warnings of other professional
associations in the past on the nation's need to reinvest in its water
infrastructure has taken root in
Congress," said Tommy Holmes,
legislative director, American Water Works Association. "The devil
has always been in the details of
where the money will come from in
this era of massive budget deficits.
That is why WIFIA - the newest
water infrastructure finance tool was designed to be budget neutral,
just like TIFIA." TIFIA is a similar,
long-standing Transportation Department program.

8

ucononline.com

Holmes does not think the fees
the EPA finalized in June will be a
disincentive for applicants for WIFIA credit assistance. Those fees are
similar to ones the Department of
Transportation charges for a similar
program that has been in operation for years, and will apply to the
applicants chosen from the 43 who
submitted letters of interest in January. Some of those will be invited to
submit applications.
For fiscal year 2017, the application fee is $25,000 for projects
serving small communities (population of not more than 25,000
people). For all other project applications, the fee is $100,000. There
will be a second, much larger credit
processing fee due after the EPA
completes its review of the application, or at the time an applicant
pulls its application, for whatever
reason. The original application fee
amount would be subtracted from
the credit processing fee, which
the EPA estimates could be in the
range of $350,000 to $700,000
per project.
The WIFIA allows the EPA to
reduce its fees where Congress appropriates additional funds beyond
the $2.2 million earmarked for EPA's
administrative costs of staffing,
program support contracts (separate
from the expert services described
previously), and other internal administrative needs. According to
Holmes, Congress has appropriated
$5 million for WIFIA administration
in fiscal 2017.
EPA can (but does not have to)
allocate additional administrative
funds (apparently $2.8 million) by
reducing fees by an equal amount
per loan for projects that serve a
population with a median household
income that is 80 percent or less of
the state median household income.
If additional administrative funds
remain, EPA will reduce fees by an
equal amount per loan for those
projects serving a population of not
more than 25,000. If additional administrative funds still remain, EPA
will reduce fees by an equal amount
for each remaining loan.

Congress considers dueling
pipeline approval reform
The House and Senate are on a collision course, sponsoring different
pieces of legislation that attempt to

By Stephen Barlas, Washington Editor

give the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission (FERC) new authority
to speed approval of new pipeline
projects. The bill the House Energy
& Commerce Committee passed
on June 28 ups the ante in favor of
the industry, compared to an earlier
draft of the "Promoting Interagency
Coordination for Review of Natural
Gas Pipelines Act" (H.R. 2910) introduced in May, which generally followed the lines of similar legislation
introduced in past Congresses, but
never passed.
Instead, the June 28 version included a number of new elements
aimed at giving FERC additional
leverage to green-light a new pipeline project if other federal agencies
dragged their feet on environmental
reviews required by their own laws.
For example, the Commerce Department often reviews projects under
the Coastal Zone Management Act,
and the Environmental Protection
Agency under the Clean Water Act.
The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), supports the revised House bill, which
"strengthens FERC's lead agency role
under the National Environmental Policy Act and encourages broad
permitting agency participation in
the development of a single environmental review," said INGAA's Cathy
Landry. The House bill attracted
only two Democratic votes, probably
indicating it would have a hard time
passing the Senate even if similar to
the Senate version.
The House committee's Democratic staff published a memo criticizing some elements in the new
version of H.R. 2910, and stated the
provisions do not address concerns
raised by an FERC official at subcommittee hearings in May. The bill
introduces new terms such as "NEPA
review" and "Project-related NEPA
review," and creates a "non-designation" status that prohibits certain
agencies from being able to "request
or conduct a NEPA review that is
supplemental to the project-related
review conducted by the Commission..."
The bill prohibits FERC from
considering any comments or other
information provided by a non-designated agency, or including its comments or supplemental information
in the record. Other new language
introduced in H.R. 2910 requires

agencies responsible for federal authorizations to deem applications
for such authorizations "sufficiently
complete for the purpose of commencing consideration, regardless of
whether supplemental information
is necessary to enable the agency to
complete the consideration required
by law..."
Besides opposition from Democrats, environmentalists are likely to
oppose the modified House bill, too.
"H.R. 2910 as passed by the House
Energy and Commerce committee
would appear to be another FERC
streamlining solution looking for a
problem," said Carl Weimer, executive director, Pipeline Safety Trust.
"Even FERC has testified that their
current NEPA process leads to 88
percent of projects getting approved
within a year, and that the major
cause of delays is not from other
agencies, but from industry applicants not providing information in a
timely manner."

Appeals Court tosses EPA
temporary suspension of
methane rule
A federal appeals court in Washington told the EPA on July 3 that
it could not delay the compliance
deadline for new air emission rules
that will force interstate pipelines
to monitor compressor stations
quarterly for emissions of methane,
and adopt what INGAA views as an
overly expensive leak detection and
repair approach.
The EPA in April suspended compliance for 90 days beyond the June
3 deadline included in the final rule
published by the Obama administration. More recently, the agency
said it wanted to extend that 90-day
extension to two years. The federal
appeals court will hold a hearing on
that two-year suspension separately.
The court did say the EPA could
reconsider the 2016 rule requiring compressors with wet seals
to achieve a 95-percent reduction
of methane and VOC emissions
through flaring, or by routing captured gas back to a process. Rod
packing systems in reciprocating
compressors will have to be replaced
at or before every 26,000 hours of
operation, or every 36 months.
Underground Construction August 2017


http://www.ucononline.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Underground Construction - August 2017

Underground Construction - August 2017
Contents
Editor’s Log
Newsline
Washington Watch
Pipeline Projects
Construction Industry Applauds Pab Legislation
First Look: Vacuworx Unveils Compact Vacuum Lifting System
Two Ways Utility Contractors Can Transfer Risk
Pvcpa Study Examines Environmental Impacts, Safety, Costs of Water Pipes
Real Business in the Big Easy
Currently @ Cuire
Matthews Assumes Ttc Leadership Role
2017 Buyer´S Guide
Nassco Tech Tips
Test Your Skills at the Rehabzone ‘18 Cutter Challenge
Rehab Products
Waterworksnews
Business
New Products
Calendar of Events
Equipment Spotlight
Business Cards
Sales Reps
Ad Index
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Underground Construction - August 2017
Underground Construction - August 2017 - IFC
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Contents
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Editor’s Log
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 3
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Newsline
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 5
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 6
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 7
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Washington Watch
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 9
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Pipeline Projects
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 11
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Construction Industry Applauds Pab Legislation
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 13
Underground Construction - August 2017 - First Look: Vacuworx Unveils Compact Vacuum Lifting System
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 15
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Two Ways Utility Contractors Can Transfer Risk
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 17
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Pvcpa Study Examines Environmental Impacts, Safety, Costs of Water Pipes
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 19
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Real Business in the Big Easy
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 21
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 22
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 23
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Currently @ Cuire
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 25
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 26
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 27
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 28
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 29
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Matthews Assumes Ttc Leadership Role
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 31
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 2017 Buyer´S Guide
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 33
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 34
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 35
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 36
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 37
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 38
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 39
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Underground Construction - August 2017 - 41
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 42
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 43
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Nassco Tech Tips
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 45
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Test Your Skills at the Rehabzone ‘18 Cutter Challenge
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Rehab Products
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 48
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Waterworksnews
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 50
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Business
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 52
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 53
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 54
Underground Construction - August 2017 - New Products
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 56
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 57
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Calendar of Events
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Equipment Spotlight
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Business Cards
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 61
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 62
Underground Construction - August 2017 - 63
Underground Construction - August 2017 - Ad Index
Underground Construction - August 2017 - IBC
Underground Construction - August 2017 - BC
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