President Donald Trump signed a bipartisan water infrastructure bill into law on Tuesday, authorizing billions of dollars for state-level projects aimed at improving the nation's rivers, harbors, and drinking water. The law will also defund programs Congress deems "inefficient," the Hill reports.
Provisions that made the cut include funding for studies on wetland restoration and risk management in flood-prone areas, such as Tangier Island, Virginia; extending a program to improve contaminated drinking water in Flint, Michigan; prioritizing lead testing in low-income schools; and requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to appoint at least one employee to serve as a "liaison to minority, tribal, and low-income communities." Other projects will make more water available for agriculture, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works ranking members John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) and Tom Carper (D-Delaware) wrote in USA Today.
In Florida, the legislation will help facilitate the building of a new reservoir designed to reduce toxic algal blooms that have killed wildlife in Lake Okeechobee—part of a growing environmental crisis that placed counties all along the Gulf Coast in a state of emergency this summer, WPTV reports.
The bill, which passed the Senate in October with all but one vote, received broad bipartisan support. It "will help coastal communities prepare for the growing risks of climate change and help communities across America invest in local water infrastructure needs," Carper said in statement.
Renewed every two years, this law stands in contrast to the Trump administration's record on both infrastructure and conservation: In August of 2017, Trump signed an executive order rolling back Obama-era environmental standards requiring the federal government to account for climate change in infrastructure projects. And just this week, the president directed agencies to loosen environmental regulations in California in order to free up water for irrigation.