Environmental Protection: Infrastructure Law Benefits Chemical Industry

Dec. 14, 2021
The bill’s huge scope provides something for nearly all stakeholders

On November 15, 2021, President Biden signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684). The House passed the bill on November 5, 2021, by a vote of 228 to 206, and the Senate passed the bill on August 10, 2021, by a vote of 69 to 30. The bill provides a $1.2-trillion infusion of cash into the economy and contains many provisions important to the chemical processing sector. Highlighted below are some of the provisions in the 1,039-page bill that readers may find interesting.

Pollution prevention. The bill includes $100 million for pollution prevention (P2) activities and grants, $20 million per fiscal year (FY) beginning in 2022 (until expended) through FY 2026. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on November 6, 2021, shared that this means “[m]ore businesses will be able to get assistance to reduce toxic pollutants, cut water usage, improve efficiency, and lower costs, which will improve their operations while better protecting the communities in which they operate.” Virtually any company could benefit greatly from this portion of the Act, as P2 opportunities almost always result in cost savings.

Climate and the chemical industry. The law contains numerous requirements and initiatives focused on industrial carbon dioxide facilities. The Act’s definition of “industrial carbon dioxide facility” includes facilities that emit carbon dioxide, including from any fugitive emissions source, that is created as a result of, among other activities, any manufacturing industry relating to chemicals; fertilizers; glass; steel; petroleum residues; forest products; agriculture, including feedlots and dairy operations; and transportation-grade liquid fuels.


Save Our Seas — plastic waste and recycling. The law provides $275 million for grants under the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, $55 million per FY beginning in 2022 (until expended) through FY 2026. The law includes $75 million for grants focused on improving material recycling, recovery, management, and reduction, $15 million per FY (until expended) beginning in FY 2022 through FY 2026. It includes $750 million for advanced energy manufacturing and recycling programs.

Smart/sustainable manufacturing. The Act includes programs, initiatives, grants, and other activities in support of manufacturer efforts to evaluate the facilities, services, and operations of plant sites and to identify opportunities for potential savings from energy efficiency improvements, waste minimization, P2, and productivity improvement. Importantly, the law provides funding to advanced battery material research to understand and support efforts for advanced battery manufacture, including raw and processed forms of a mineral, metal, chemical, or other material used in an advanced battery component. Under sustainable manufacturing, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), at the request of a manufacturer, will carry out onsite technical assessments to identify certain opportunities.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Through the funding of several types of clean water and drinking water grant and revolving fund programs, the EPA will work to support states and local communities to provide safe drinking water. The EPA states in its fact sheet that “[p]eople will be protected from PFAS or ‘forever chemical’ contamination.” The funding includes the following:
• PFAS Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF), $1 billion;
• PFAS Drinking Water SRF, $4 billion; and
• PFAS Small and Disadvantaged, $5 billion.


This landmark bipartisan legislation will modernize the U.S. infrastructure. The Act includes hundreds of new programs and initiatives with significant investments that touch almost every aspect of the U.S. economy and dozens of manufacturing sectors. Fully understanding the implications for the chemical and related processing sectors will take time; indeed, many aspects of the Act will take years to implement. Reaping the results will take even longer. Investment in sustainable manufacturing, P2, climate change resilience, environmental remediation, and personal protective equipment (PPE) policy will have consequences for the chemical and chemical processing industries, as well as manufacturing writ large.

Stakeholders are urged to read relevant portions of this massive law and seize opportunities pertinent to their businesses. Given the scope of the law and the amount of money at stake, there is plenty of incentive for stakeholders to optimize the opportunities here. There is something for everyone, so read it and make use of what is there.

LYNN L. BERGESON is Chemical Processing's Regulatory Editor. You can e-mail her at [email protected]

Lynn is managing director of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C., a Washington, D.C.-based law firm that concentrates on conventional, biobased, and nanoscale chemical industry issues. She served as chair of the American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources (2005-2006). The views expressed herein are solely those of the author. This column is not intended to provide, nor should be construed as, legal advice.

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