The White House
Today, the White House released a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Tribal Playbook to help tribal governments unlock the benefits from the historic investments in our nation’s infrastructure, including the more than $13 billion set aside in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for Indian Country. The Tribal Playbook, found at build.gov, builds on the release of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Guidebook and provides tribal communities with information on the more specific tribal funding available under the law, in addition to the hundreds of billions available to tribes on a competitive basis.
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will send billions of dollars to Indian Country to provide affordable high-speed internet, safer roads and bridges, modern wastewater and sanitation systems, clean drinking water, reliable and affordable electricity, and good paying jobs in every tribal community. As part of this effort, the Biden-Harris administration is also committed to working with tribal communities to help them access federal resources.
Major Tribal Funding Streams in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
“We are committed to ensuring Indian Country will benefit from this once-in-a-generation investment,” said Mitch Landrieu, Senior Advisor & Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator. “Building a better America requires these funds to reach tribal communities that have been left behind for far too long. The President sees you, and major investments are on the way.”
This week, the administration made progress in getting massive sanitation and water investments moving through the Indian Health Service and Environmental Protection Agency. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law appropriates $3.5 billion to the Indian Health Service to build the infrastructure necessary to ensure a safe supply of drinking water, reliable sewage systems, and solid waste disposal facilities. The funding will promote high-quality health care and disease prevention in tribal communities. The first year, FY 2022, spend plan is estimated at $700 million and will be shared with tribal communities through a Dear Tribal Leader Letter today. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water will send another $154 million this year to tribes for water projects through its Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds. This funding will go to projects that replace lead pipes and address harmful pollutants, among other eligible uses.
To help coordinate these and other water and wastewater infrastructure funds, the Environmental Protection Agency has revitalized the Tribal Infrastructure Task Force (ITF) through a new Memorandum of Understanding between seven federal agencies. Signatories include:
- The U.S Department of Agriculture;
- The Environmental Protection Agency;
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development;
- The Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs;
- The Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation;
- The Department of Health and Human Services, Indian Health Service; and
- The Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition, the Departments of Transportation and Energy will also release funding for tribal infrastructure that will increase road safety and power unelectrified buildings. Today, the Department of Energy issued a Notice of Intent for a $15 million investment to support powering unelectrified tribal buildings. Earlier this month, the Department of Transportation announced nearly $9 million for the Federal Highway Administration’s Tribal Transportation Safety Program. Soon, they will announce the availability of an additional $120 million for the program over five years from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Since President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law six months ago, the Biden-Harris administration has hit the ground running to deliver results. The administration has made key progress towards implementing the largest long-term investment in America’s infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century. More than $110 billion has been announced and allocated to states, tribes, territories and communities from formula and competitive programs for roads and highways, bridges, ports, airports, electric vehicle charging stations, water systems, high speed internet, and weatherization.
Of that, the administration has announced the following tribal programs:
- Fulfilling Tribal Water Settlements: The Department of the Interior announced $1.7 billion to fulfill Indian Water Rights Settlements, which will break down barriers and help create conditions that improve water resources management by providing certainty as to the rights of all water users who are parties to the disputes.
- Powering Unelectrified Tribal Buildings: In May, the Department of Energy announced a Notice of Intent for $20 million in funding for tribal nations to deploy energy infrastructure or integrated energy systems to provide power to tribal buildings not connected to traditional centralized electric power grids.
- Dam Safety Programs in Tribal Communities: In mid-May, the Department of the Interior announced $29 million from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for its Power, Irrigation, and Safety of Dams programs. This is the first allotment of approximately $150 million the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) will invest over the next five years to address safety deficiencies at four Bureau of Indian Affairs dams.
- Tribal Water Systems: The Department of the Interior announced $10 million for tribal water systems and another $10 million for irrigation and power in Indian Country.
- Drought Resilience: The Department of the Interior announced awards of $420 million for rural water projects for drought resilience, and $240 million for aging water infrastructure through the Bureau of Reclamation. This investment in rural water systems includes work related to pipeline connections, construction of water treatment plants and intakes, pump systems, reservoir construction and other efforts to provide potable water to rural and tribal communities. The Bureau of Reclamation also announced application periods for hundreds of millions of dollars in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding opportunities for water infrastructure, some of which are still open. Funding for the maintenance of aging infrastructure, and water recycling and desalination projects have been advertised, with more on the way during the rest of 2022.
- Watershed Infrastructure Projects: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced nearly $600 million in funding for projects that improve or rehabilitate watersheds, rehabilitate dams, and improve flood prevention through its Natural Resource Conservation Service, including some in tribal communities.
- Tribal Climate Resilience: The Department of the Interior announced $46 million in funding to tribal communities to address the unique impacts of climate change in Indigenous communities.
- Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced $100 million for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, including $34.4 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which supports conservation efforts in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska and is essential to preventing the extinction of the 28 listed salmon and steelhead species on the West Coast. The jobs and economic benefits of salmon restoration activities are largely realized in local and rural communities.
- Great Lakes Restoration: The Environmental Protection Agency announced $1 billion over five years for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, including $200 million in FY2022, to accelerate progress in the clean-up and restoration of the Great Lakes’ most environmentally degraded sites, securing clean water and a better environment for millions of Americans in the Great Lakes region, including in tribal communities.
- Tribal Internet: The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has made 34 awards totaling approximately $83 million in funding through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. These awards are part of the Biden Administration’s whole-of-government effort to connect everyone in America with affordable, reliable, high-speed internet. The program, which is receiving an additional $2 billion in funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is directed to tribal governments to be used for broadband deployment on tribal lands, as well as for telehealth, distance learning, broadband affordability, and digital inclusion.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding builds off the administration’s historic investment in tribal communities in the American Rescue Plan, with $32 billion allocated to tribal governments, including $20 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds — a historic financial level of support for over 580 tribal governments and the largest amount of funding to tribal governments in the American Rescue Plan (ARP). To date, tribal governments have obligated funds to nearly 900 projects that address the negative economic impacts of COVID and over 1,800 other projects that are helping Indian Country recover and strengthen capacity.