Historic infrastructure package to the president’s office

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06.11.21

Big wins for Indian tribes in infrastructure bill bringing essential resources to indigenous communities across the country

Today, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Deputy Chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, applauded the House’s passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a law she and a group bipartisan nine senators worked for months to negotiate, draft, and go through the entire Senate. Legislation that will now head to the president’s office includes substantial funding for federal programs and Indigenous communities to address water and sanitation, transportation, broadband, climate and energy resilience, Indian water settlements, new energy technologies, drought mitigation, mines and wells. clean-up, forest fire mitigation and ecosystem restoration.

“This bipartisan infrastructure bill is one of the most important legislative efforts I have worked on during my career in the Senate. I am incredibly proud and honored to have played a leading role in the creation of this legislation ”, said Vice President Murkowski. “I fought and defended resources for Native Americans throughout the lengthy negotiations to ensure that the federal government honored its trust and treaty obligations. With this bipartisan legislation, many Indigenous communities will be able to meet the long-standing needs that many other Americans take for granted, including water, sanitation, and access to transportation. The bill also provides resources for planning and development to adapt to the impacts of climate change, reduce the risk of forest fires, reduce deferred maintenance of irrigation systems, electricity and water and develop rural broadband. I want to thank the many Alaskans, including tribal leaders, organizations, and stakeholders, who have worked with me to craft provisions that meet the needs of our urban, rural and Indigenous communities. And a big thank you to my friend and fellow Congressman Don Young, for using his influence and platform in the House to garner the support needed to cross the finish line. As this historic legislation now heads to the President for signing, I look forward to working with our federal partners to make these visions on paper a reality. “

The Law on Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs includes significant investments in indigenous communities, such as:

Major investments in Indian Health Service sanitation construction program Provides $ 3.5 billion in technical and financial assistance to Native American tribes and Native villages in Alaska through IHS for cooperative development and construction of drinking water, sewage and water systems. solid waste and related support facilities. This unprecedented investment in IHS remediation will meet all of the known needs of the project.

Funds Indian water establishments authorized by Congress Provides $ 2.5 billion to fund the remaining portions of discretionary funding authorized for Indian water regulations approved by Congress. The federal government is involved in Indian water regulations by virtue of its fiduciary responsibilities. Funding for these settlements will allow tribes to pursue authorized projects to access and develop their water resources.

Building resilience to climate change in indigenous communities Provides $ 216 million to the Tribal Climate Resilience program of the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the planning and development of adaptation projects and community relocation for tribes facing the impacts of climate change.

Connecting Indian communities by investing in rural broadband Provides additional $ 2 billion for tribal broadband connectivity program and extends spending deadline. Creates a billion dollar Middle Mile program for the construction, improvement or acquisition of middle-mile infrastructure. The Middle Mile program includes a process to designate unserved or underserved tribal areas in consultation with tribes and Indigenous entities. The bill creates a competitive digital equity grant program, which includes a 5% reserve for awarding grants or entering into contracts or cooperative agreements with Indian tribes, indigenous entities of the ‘Alaska and Hawaiian Native Organizations. Additional funds are provided for the FCC’s Broadband Emergency Benefit Program, which subsidizes broadband service to eligible households.

Clean up orphaned and inherited wells Directs funds to the Home Office to clean up orphan wells on public lands and wells inherited from the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and to fund state grants for cleaning wells on public and private lands . This includes more than $ 2 billion for state grants, $ 250 million for federal lands and $ 150 million for a new grant program to help tribes clean up orphaned wells. Across the country, more than 56,000 documented orphan oil and gas wells can leak methane, contaminate groundwater and create other safety risks. Federal and state agencies responsible for plugging and rehabilitating these wells have had limited funding to address this health risk.

Reduce the risk of forest fires and improve Indigenous communities Investments in projects to reduce hazardous fuels, forest restoration grants and community defense to reduce the risk of forest fires, provide firefighter training for teams in Indigenous villages, the Native Youth Public Land Corps and the other programs focused on ecosystem restoration and tribal protection.

Investments in irrigation, electricity and sanitation BIA Includes $ 250 million for construction, repair, improvement and maintenance of irrigation and electrical systems, dam safety, water sanitation and other facilities.

Investments in tribal transport – Includes $ 2.9 billion for tribal transportation program, $ 110 million for tribal transportation facility bridge set aside, allows 100 percent federal share for tribal projects in federal lands d Importance and Tribal Programs, restores and provides funding for high priority tribal projects The program at $ 30 million per year for a total of $ 150 million, increases the amount set aside for the Program Security Fund transportation costs from 2 to 4 percent and accelerated the environmental review of tribal transportation security projects.

For a list of the tribal provisions that were included in the Law on investment in infrastructure and employment, click here.

Related issues: Native Alaska and rural Alaska


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