National Special Districts Coalition Update
EV Tax Credits to take Effect Tuesday with Little Fanfare, Glaring Issues
The U.S. Department of the Treasury has clarified rules on electric vehicle (EV) credits set to take effect April 18, as set forth in the Inflation Reduction Act. However, due to new battery sourcing requirements, only 10 electric and hybrid vehicle models are eligible and currently available.
The Biden Administration issued guidance on Friday clarifying the EV credit rules, which would require EV batteries eligible for the credit to have final assembly in North America. As a result, about half of the vehicles that would otherwise be eligible for the $7,500 tax credits will not either not be considered eligible or have not yet hit the market.
A list of eligible EVs for the full and half credit are available. The 10 models eligible and available from Ford, General Motors, and Tesla with varied price gaps of $55,000 and $80,000. As the new rules take effect on April 18, seven other Ford, Stellantis, and Tesla vehicles will be eligible for half credit totaling $3,750. Of the eligible, three of General Motor’s vehicles are not scheduled to roll off the assembly line until at least later this summer.
Special districts and other local governments will be allowed access to the tax credit in the form of direct-pay credits. Click here to read Treasury's full guidance.
EPA Proposes National Primary Standard for PFAS Monitoring
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed its National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) for monitoring six forms of PFAS in drinking water systems.
EPA published on March 29 its proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for six forms of PFAS including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA, commonly known as GenX Chemicals), perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), and perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS).
Public comment is currently open on the proposal with a May 30 deadline. Click here to read the proposed NPDWR.
EPA proposes to establish legally enforceable levels, known as Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for the six PFAS in drinking water. Aside from PFOA and PFOS, the other four may have particular significance as they represent chemicals that industry switched to after health concerns regarding PFOA and PFOS became clearer.
EPA’s rule proposes to regulate the four new PFAS using an approach that accounts for the fact that they are often combined as part of a mixture. The agency believes the chemicals can be more dangerous in combination than they are on their own, and so EPA is proposing a method called a “hazard index”. Under the proposal, drinking water utilities would monitor for all four PFAS and input the results into a calculation that indicates whether the specific levels and combinations of the four PFAS pose a health danger. Hazard indexes are a tool frequently used in Superfund cleanups but have never been used in a drinking water regulation before — although EPA floated the possibility to its outside scientific advisers. Details on the hazard index are provided in the factsheet links below.
EPA expects approximately 66,000 water systems to be subject to the rule, with approximately 3,400 to 6,000 systems expected to exceed one or more of the MCLs.
EPA estimates the cost of the proposed rule to public water systems to include capital and yearly operation and maintenance costs. EPA projects baseline costs—between $772 million and $1.2 billion annually for water system treatment costs, which could increase $30 million to 60 million per year if water systems are required to dispose of PFAS material as hazardous waste, which is likely in the case of some water systems, given the pending rulemaking classifying PFAS as a hazardous material under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).
The proposed rule would, once finalized and in effect, also require public water systems to:
- Monitor for these PFAS.
- Notify the public of the levels of these PFAS.
- Reduce the levels of these PFAS in drinking water if they exceed the proposed standards.
Detailed fact sheets highlighting details and background can be found here and here.
NSDC will submit formal comment to EPA ahead of the May 30 deadline. The Coalition invites its Members, affiliated special districts, and affiliated organizations to share thoughts and questions about the proposed rule to best inform its comment. Click here to share your feedback on the NPDWR.
Addressing the WUI Gap in Water Infrastructure for Firefighting.
The National Special Districts Coalition (NSDC) joined the Tahoe Water for Fire Suppression Partnership in advocacy to expand a federal wildfire resiliency program to address gaps in adequate water infrastructure for firefighting in high-risk communities.
NSDC joined the Lake Tahoe-based Partnership on an April 13 letter to House and Senate agriculture committee leaderships requesting eligibility under the Community Wildfire Defense Grant (CWDG) program be expanded to include water infrastructure for fire suppression projects. The effort comes as Congress debates reauthorization of the Farm Bill, which includes USDA forestry programs.
CWDG was established with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to assist at-risk communities with the development of or revisions to community wildfire protection plans or to execute projects included in community plans that have been active 10 years at most. USDA prioritizes program funding for communities located in high or very high wildfire hazard zones, have been disaster-impacted, and are considered disadvantaged or underserved.
The Coalition views the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program as an avenue to address gaps in adequate water for firefighting in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) using a relevant existing federal program. Water infrastructure for firefighting projects would fit well within CWDG, as comprehensive wildfire mitigation planning and implementation of community protection measures are core components of the program. Opening CWDG eligibility to include these projects would be a prime tool for special districts to leverage, as part of a broader community plan, to reduce risks to public safety, public health, the broader environment, as well as ease insurance costs for affected home and business owners. The policy change would help ensure the vibrancy and sustainability communities – especially in rural and WUI regions where many special districts provide services.
The Tahoe Water for Fire Suppression Partnership is comprised of Lake Tahoe Basin water agencies collaborating with fire agencies, local, state, and federal governments, and non-governmental organizations to protect at-risk communities in the Basin and surrounding federal forest lands from the threat of wildfire. The Tahoe City Public Utility District, a Tahoe Partnership member, is represented on an NSDC working group to address community gaps in water infrastructure for firefighting, which produced a white paper and set of federal legislative recommendations on the topic in July 2022.
States Must Act to Establish STORM Act Resiliency Revolving Fund
Congress passed with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) a revolving fund program to assist states and local governments with resiliency projects.
The Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation (STORM) Act is a Federal Emergency Management Agency program that provides capitalization grants for states to establish revolving loan funds for resilience and mitigation projects of disasters such as drought, extreme heat, severe storms, wildfires, floods, and earthquakes. The program is fashioned in a way that would allow special districts and other local agencies with active FEMA hazard mitigation plans the ability to skip the regular process of applying for hazard mitigation assistance.
To receive access to the federal revolving fund, states must enact legislation to establish their revolving funds. Our friends at the National Association of Counties shared model legislation with NSDC for the attention of state members interested in advocating for a state STORM revolving fund. The model legislation is attached to this email.
Once established, states may open the program to local governments. FEMA will allow projects up to $5 million for funding with a maximum interest rate of 1 percent for 20 years past the date of project completion. Low-income communities could have up to 30 years for repayment.
Read more about the FEMA STORM Act program here.
State Hazard Mitigation Officer Contacts
Need assistance identifying who best to contact regarding mitigation needs in your state? Click here for a directory.
Coalition Readying Grassroots Action on Lummis-LaMalfa Fire Retardant Legislation
NSDC holds a “Support 2” position on the H.R. 1586 (LaMalfa) and S. 796 (Lummis), the Forest Protection and Wildland Firefighter Safety Act, which would codify a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit exemption for fire agencies’ use of fire retardant to combat wildfire.
With focus to enhance water for fire suppression resources and with many special districts providing services in the WUI, NSDC will offer beginning late next week an opportunity for special districts to join a coalition letter of support to relevant congressional committee leadership. Without a firm timeline for next steps on the legislation, the deadline to join may not be until around Memorial Day, which should accommodate interested special districts that must secure board approval prior to legislative advocacy.
The target audience for this ‘soft action alert’ will be special districts providing any type of service in a WUI area and fire protection districts that respond to wildfire.
Click here for NSDC’s legislative memo on H.R. 1586/S. 796.
Streamline Webinar and Materials
NSDC hosted on April 4 webinar in partnership with Streamline, “Ensuring Accessibility for Your Community: Website ADA Best Practices.” The live event was well attended with good audience engagement. Below are the materials from the event. Please feel free to share with your memberships for on-demand viewing and access.
Rewatch the full presentation: Click here to access the live webinar’s recording.
Review and save the PowerPoint presentation: Click here to download Streamline’s slide deck.
Get a quick read on web ADA compliance from the special districts’ perspective. Click here to download the NSDC Issue Brief.
Special ‘thank you!’ to Streamline, an NSDC Gold Affiliate Member, for the Streamline Team for their awesome presentation and hard work for the nation’s special districts! For more information on Streamline and the suite of resources available to special districts, check out their website at www.getstreamline.com.