Senate, House Set to Tackle Differences
After Senate Vote on Economic Stimulus Bill
The Senate passed its version of an economic recovery package
Feb. 10 by a 61-37 vote, setting the stage for House and Senate
negotiations on a range of differences, including funding for water
treatment infrastructure, superfund, and cleanups at former nuclear
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he hopes that he
and other conferees will have a “first cut” on a conference
agreement by Feb. 11.
The House-passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
(H.R. 1), estimated at $819 billion, contains more funding for the
Environmental Protection Agency's clean water and drinking water
revolving funds and for superfund cleanups than the $838 billion
Language on how revolving loan funds should be spent also differs
in the two versions.
The biggest difference between the House and Senate environmental
provisions of the stimulus bill appears to be for Department of
Energy environmental cleanup funds. The Senate would allocate $6.4
billion, while the House would only allocate $500 million. (See
related story in this issue.)
The House bill would allocate $8 billion for water revolving loan
funds, with $6 billion of this amount targeted to the clean water
revolving fund and $2 billion to the drinking water revolving fund.
The Senate bill would provide $6 billion for the two funds, of
which $4 billion would be allocated to the clean water fund and $2
billion to the safe drinking water fund.
House and Senate versions differ somewhat in their language on
how clean water and drinking water revolving fund money should be
allocated. States receive federal revolving funds based on an EPA
formula that takes into account such factors as infrastructure needs
The House version would require that 50 percent of state
revolving water funds be in the form of grants.
However, under the Senate bill, the revolving fund provisions
would allow broad eligibility and include authority for states to
offer negative interest loans and principal forgiveness for up to
100 percent of the cost of projects.
States Seek Flexibility
Linda Eichmiller, executive director of the Association of State
and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators, told BNA Feb.
10 that for some states, forgiving 50 percent of the principal may
not be adequate.
States generally prefer the flexibility in the language of the
Senate bill because they base funding decisions on project
environmental importance, priority ranking, and community financial
circumstances, she said.
Superfund site cleanup projects would receive $800 million under
the House version, but only $600 million in the Senate version.
The House bill would provide $1.5 billion for rural water and
waste disposal under the Department of Agriculture's Consolidated
Farm and Rural Development Act—more than the Senate allocation of
$1.375 billion for the program
EPA's leaking underground storage tank trust fund program would
receive $200 million in both bill versions.
Diesel Emissions, Brownfields Targeted
Both bills contain $300 million for state and local governments to
reduce diesel emissions under the Energy Policy Act of 2005. In
addition, $100 million is targeted for brownfields programs in both
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would receive $4.6 billion in
the Senate bill, and $4.5 billion in the House version.
Corps funding in the Senate bill includes $500 million for
studies, construction, and maintenance of projects for the
Mississippi River and Tributaries Project. The House bill would
provide $250 million for this program.
The Senate bill includes $1.4 billion for the Bureau of
Reclamation for several projects, including water reclamation and
The House bill would provide $500 million to the Bureau of
Reclamation to provide clean, reliable drinking water to rural areas
and to ensure an adequate water supply to western localities
affected by drought. At least $80 million of this money would be
used for rural water projects.
Energy Programs Funded
The Senate bill contains approximately $43 billion on
clean-energy programs, according to the Senate Appropriations
That includes $4.2 billion for energy efficiency and conservation
grants, $2.9 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program, $2.6
billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research,
development, demonstration and deployment activities.
The bill also includes $4.5 billion for smart-grid related
activities, including work to modernize the electricity grid,
enhance security and reliability, perform energy storage research,
development, demonstration and deployment, and provide worker
training, the committee said. Some $8.5 billion is provided for new
loan guarantees aimed at standard renewable energy projects such as
wind or solar projects and for electricity transmission projects.
Among the top priorities in the House bill are $32 billion for
electricity transmission-related programs, including smart grid
technology, and for building new transmission lines to renewable
energy generation sources in remote areas. Another $16 billion was
included to repair public housing and make key energy efficiency
retrofits, and $6 billion was approved for weatherizing low-income
By Linda Roeder