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December 29, 2020  |  Written by Alyson E. Ackerman

Key Natural Resource and Environmental Elements to Know About H.R. 133: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021

President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (“Appropriations Act” or “Act”) on December 27, 2020.  The Appropriations Act is a true omnibus.  It covers an array of topics, including provisions important to California specifically, as well as other noteworthy environmental issues.  Below, we list some key natural resource and environmental elements of the Act:

  • Allocates $65 million for the recovery of the Pacific Coastal salmon populations. The Appropriations Act authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to issue grants from the $65 million allocation, based on forthcoming guidelines, to Pacific Coast states, including California, and certain federally recognized tribes.  The grants will fund projects necessary for conservation of steelhead and salmon, where such populations are listed as threatened or endangered, as well as projects that either maintain the populations necessary to exercise tribal treaty fishing rights, or native subsistence fishing.
  • Allocates to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation:
    • $33 million to carry out the activities authorized by the Water Supply, Reliability, and Environmental Improvement Act, including the federal share of activities related to the CALFED Bay-Delta Program.
    • $56 million to carry out programs, projects, plans, habitat restoration, improvement, and acquisition activities under the Central Valley Project Improvement Act.
    • Funding for construction, pre-construction, or study of Sites Reservoir and the Sacramento Regional Water Bank in accordance with the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN Act).
  • Charges the Secretary of the Army to:
    • Undertake a comprehensive study of the Sacramento River near the Yolo Bypass System, identifying actions related to the purposes of flood risk management, ecosystem restoration, water supply, hydropower, and recreation.
    • Expeditiously complete the feasibility study for flood risk management in Lower Cache Creek. Cache Creek is a west-side tributary of the Sacramento River, originating with the outflows of Clear Lake, flowing into the Cache Creek Settling Basin, and discharging into the Yolo Bypass.
    • Conduct a feasibility study for certain dam safety improvements at Oroville Dam.
  • Extends the phase-out schedule for the investment tax credits available under the Internal Revenue Code for the construction and placing into service of certain renewable energy projects. These projects include solar energy, cogeneration of heat and power, microturbines, fiber-optic solar, fuel cell, small wind energy properties, and geothermal properties.  The Act also added a new investment tax credit specifically for qualified offshore wind projects – projects located in either the inland navigable waters or coastal waters of the United States.  These changes are anticipated to further fund development of renewable energy projects.
  • Allocates monies for the Environmental Protection Agency’s necessary expenses to carry out various activities authorized by federal environmental acts. These activities are intended to address:  (a) leaking underground storage tank cleanup work, authorized by the Solid Waste Disposal Act; (b) developing, operating, maintaining, and upgrading the hazardous waste electronic manifest system, established by the Solid Waste Disposal Act; (c) uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous-waste sites or other contaminant release cleanup work, authorized by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA); and (d) carrying out the water quality program authorized in the WIIN Act.

For additional information on the Act or other water issues, please contact Alyson E. Ackerman (aackerman@somachlaw.com) or Aaron A. Ferguson (aferguson@somachlaw.com).

Somach Simmons & Dunn provides the information in its Environmental Law & Policy Alerts and on its website for informational purposes only.  This general information is not a substitute for legal advice, and users should consult with legal counsel for specific advice.  In addition, using this information or sending electronic mail to Somach Simmons & Dunn or its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship with Somach Simmons & Dunn.

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