Heinrich Secures Major Provisions In Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill To Build Back Better

Senator Heinrich will continue fighting for additional investments in climate action, electrification, and economic support for America’s families in Budget Resolution to build back better

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee, secured major wins for New Mexico in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to build back better. The bill includes provisions Senator Heinrich championed for transmission, advancements in clean energy and hydrogen, wildfire mitigation, and establishing the first-ever abandoned hardrock mine reclamation program. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 69 to 30.

Senator Heinrich has been a leader on ensuring that a 21st century infrastructure meets 21st century needs. That includes provisions that take the climate crisis head on, move the clean energy transition forward, and power America’s economic recovery.

“With the remainder of the Build Back Better agenda, this bipartisan infrastructure bill will mean hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs for Americans and ensure that our nation’s infrastructure meets 21st century needs. I’m proud to have secured substantial investments in hydrogen, transmission, clean energy and water infrastructure, wildfire mitigation, and the first-ever abandoned hardrock mine reclamation program. But the buck doesn’t stop there,” said Heinrich. “Now is the time to go the extra mile and pass smart, long-term investments that can change the very course of our nation’s future. I’m going to keep fighting to take meaningful action on the climate crisis, including making the economic, environmental, and health benefits of home electrification affordable and accessible to all Americans.”

Last month, Senate Democrats announced a framework agreement of $3.5 trillion in FY2022 Budget Reconciliation instructions to enact the Build Back Better plan. This proposal is the parallel track to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and includes major investments in climate action and provides educational support and long-term economic opportunities for America’s families. The Senate is considering the budget resolution now.

A list of some of the programs and provisions Senator Heinrich secured in the bipartisan infrastructure bill are below:

Transmission

The bill clarifies Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) backstop siting authority for interstate transmission projects under certain conditions. This authority will help integrate more renewables onto the grid.

Strengthening Water Infrastructure

Senator Heinrich supported the authorization of $5,000,000,000 for Fiscal Years 2022-2026 for western water programs, including fully funding the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Project (ENMRWA). This would mean that the Eastern NMRWA would receive its entire remaining federal share. This also authorizes $50 million for Colorado River endangered species recovery programs, including the Upper Colorado and San Juan Basin recovery programs that provide Endangered Species Act (ESA) compliance for Colorado River users, including PNM, the Navajo Nation, and the Jicarilla Apache Nation.

The bill includes $3.5 billion for the Indian Health Service (IHS) Sanitation and Facilities Construction program. This funding will fully cover the existing backlog of Tribal water and sanitation infrastructure projects through the IHS and provide access to reliable and clean water to Tribal communities across the nation. Senator Heinrich has been pushing for the inclusion of this funding to uphold the federal government’s responsibility to sovereign Tribal nations. He has joined multiple legislative efforts with his Senate colleagues, including the introduction of the Indian Health Service Sanitation Facilities Construction Enhancement Act, the Tribal Access to Clean Water Act, and a resolution reaffirming the federal government’s responsibility to provide clean drinking water for Tribal communities. Senator Heinrich also led a letter of Senate colleagues to President Biden encouraging support for Tribal water projects in the infrastructure negotiations.

Advancing Clean Energy And Hydrogen Research & Development

Energy Act of 2020

The bill also fully funds demonstration projects authorized in the bipartisan Energy Act of 2020, including energy storage, carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, advanced nuclear, rare earth elements, but also direct air capture, water power projects, renewable energy projects (including geothermal, wind, and solar), and industrial emissions. Includes full funding of more than $500,000,000 for two provisions of the Better Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Act, which Senator Heinrich introduced with U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and was signed into law last year.

Advancing the Clean Hydrogen Future Act

The bill incorporates the demonstration, commercialization and deployment program from Senator Heinrich’s Advancing the Clean Hydrogen Future Act. The program is intended to decrease the cost of clean hydrogen production from electrolyzers. For this program, the section appropriates $200,000,000 for each of Fiscal Years 2022-2026.

Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs

Senator Heinrich secured a provision that authorizes at least four hydrogen demonstration projects and specifies that at least two are located in regions with the greatest natural gas resources.

Hydrogen Demonstrations

Senator Heinrich supported a provision that funds $500,000,000 over 5 years for hydrogen demonstrations. Directs DOE to develop an initial standard for the carbon intensity of clean hydrogen production from renewable, fossil fuel with carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration technologies, nuclear, and other fuel sources using any applicable production technology.

Grid Infrastructure and Resiliency

Senator Heinrich supported a provision that establishes the “Program Upgrading Our Electric Grid Reliability and Resiliency” program to provide Federal financial assistance to demonstrate innovative approaches to transmission, storage, and distribution infrastructure to harden resilience and reliability and to demonstrate new approaches to enhance regional grid resilience, implemented through States by public and publicly regulated entities on a cost-shared basis. It also directs the Secretary to improve resilience, safety, and reliability and environmental protection in rural or remote areas and—in collaboration with Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC)—to develop a framework to assess the resilience of energy infrastructure. This section appropriates $1,000,000,000 for each of FY22-26 for the Energy Infrastructure Federal Financial Assistance program and $200,000,000 for each of FY22-26 for Rural or Remote Areas. The bill also appropriates an additional $5,000,000,000 to establish a grant program to support activities that reduce the likelihood and consequence of impacts to the electric grid due extreme weather, wildfire, and natural disaster.

Electric Vehicles (EV)

The bill includes $7,500,000,000 for electric vehicle charging and infrastructure, including funds for alternative fuel corridors and expanding a national network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The bill also establishes an electric vehicle working group to provide federal guidance for integrating electric vehicles into the nation’s transportation system. Separately, the bill also directs states to consider measures to promote transportation electrification, ranging from establishing rates that promote equitable and affordable EV charging options, to accelerating third-party investment in public EV charging. In addition, it would expand the Department of Energy’s work on research, development, and demonstration of EV battery recycling and second-life applications, and authorizes $200,000,000 for FY22-26.

Carbon Removal

The bill establishes four regional direct air capture hubs and authorizes $3,500,000,000 for FY22-26 for the hubs. These projects would accelerate commercialization of, and demonstrate the removal, processing, transport, sequestration, and utilization of, carbon dioxide captured from the atmosphere. Within the Energy Act of 2020 funding, there are funds for carbon capture pilot projects and demonstration projects, and a DAC technologies prize competition.

Hardrock Mining Reform

Senator Heinrich, along with U.S. Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), secured a provision to establish and authorize $3 billion for the first-ever abandoned hardrock mine reclamation grant program through the U.S. Department of Interior. Under this new program funds could be used to clean up federal, state, Tribal, or private land and water resources that were used for, or affected by, hardrock mining activities where the responsible company cannot be found or has gone out of business. Half of available funds would be directly administered by the federal government on federal lands, and the other half would be distributed to States and Tribes to be administered as State and Tribal grants. The new program is endorsed by Earthworks, Earthjustice, and the National Mining Association.

Forest Restoration, Remediation, And Fire Management

Fire Risk Mapping

Senator Heinrich secured a provision to authorize $20 million for the U.S. Forest Service to partner with the Southwest Ecological Restoration Institutes to map historical wildfires and past fuel treatments to inform fire management strategies. This would allow the New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute at New Mexico Highlands University to continue their leadership on fire risk mapping.

Forest Service Legacy Road and Trail Remediation Program

Senator Heinrich secured a provision to authorize the U.S. Forest Service’s Legacy Road and Trail program at $250,000,000 for five years, which funds activities to restore fish passage in streams at road and trail crossings, decommission unauthorized, user-created roads, and other activities. Senator Heinrich sponsored legislation to authorize the program in the 115th Congress.

Wildfire Risk Reduction

Senator Heinrich supported a provision that authorizes $3,369,200,000 for wildfire risk reduction by providing funding for community wildfire defense grants, mechanical thinning, controlled burns, the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CRFL) Program, and firefighting resources.

High Speed Internet

The bill’s $65 billion investment increases access to reliable high-speed internet with an historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment, just as the federal government made a historic effort to provide electricity to every American nearly one hundred years ago. This includes a $2 billion investment in broadband in Tribal communities which were hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill creates the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, to help over 785,000 New Mexicans and low-income families afford internet access. The bill will also help lower prices for internet service by requiring funding recipients to offer a low-cost affordable plan, requiring providers to display a “Broadband Nutrition Label” that will help families comparison shop for a better deal, and by boosting competition in areas where existing providers aren’t providing adequate service.