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NRI Standing Committee Newsletter | December 8, 2023

December 8, 2023

Below you will find some of the latest agriculture, energy, environment and transportation policy issues NCSL is following in Washington, D.C. If you have questions about any of the stories below, please reach out to me, Megan Bland (  

Top Stories 

New Environmental Permitting Reforms 

The Biden administration has been making a concerted effort to improve and reform environmental permitting. Earlier this year the administration authorized $155 million from the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to facilitate faster and more streamlined environmental permitting processes at relevant federal agencies, released the second phase of National Environmental Policy Act reforms and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s announced the Improvements to Generator Interconnection Procedures and Agreements final rule. The administration latest efforts to improve permitting has come from the Department of Energy (DOE), which has released proposed changes to permitting rules for projects tied bringing more renewable energy projects online. Specifically, projects like transmission line upgrades, large scale batteries and solar farms would be eligible for a simplified environmental review process, which would improve the feasibility of these projects by helping minimize delays, lower costs and improve the speed of the permitting process.  

Codifying Toxic Substance Control Act Policy 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moved to officially codify a number of Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) policy and procedural framework updates to comply with a 2019 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling mandating that the EPA must consider legacy uses and associated disposals of chemicals when considering the risks posed by those chemicals under TSCA. The EPA has also announced that it will study multi-pathway exposure and the resulting cumulative risks. 

Additionally, under TSCA, the EPA recently released a new proposed rule that would place an iterative ban on all uses of trichloroethylene. The chemical, which is predominantly used in refrigerants and degreasing solvents, has been linked to detrimental human health effects. 

Increasing the Nations Transmission Capacity 

Improving the nation’s transmission capacity has been a component of the Biden administration’s plan to meet climate goals, bring new sources of renewable energy online and modernize the nation’s electric grid. The need for these capacity improvements has been underscored in the National Transmission Needs Study released by the DOE. The study, which identified the nation’s biggest transmission needs, found that for the U.S. to meet current climate goals it will need to double existing regional transmission and quintuple existing interregional transmission capacity by 2035. In an effort to address these needed improvements, the DOE has announced$1.3 billion of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding through the Transmission Facilitation Program to help construct three new large transmission line projects. These projects are focused in the Southwest and New England and are expected to add 3.5 gigawatts of transmission capacity by the end of the decade. The Transmission Facilitation Program, which is a $2.5 billion revolving fund, is expected to undertake a second round of investment in new transmission projects in 2024 to help developers overcome financial barriers associated with large-scale transmission infrastructure projects. 

Government Shutdown Avoided and Farm Bill Extended 

Congress has passed and President Biden has signed into law Further Continuing Appropriations and Other Extensions (H.R. 6363,), which prevented a government shutdown on Nov. 17. This legislation outlines a two-part structure to address and pass the remaining 12 appropriations bills. The new deadline for passing the first four appropriation bills, Agriculture, Energy and Water, Military and Veterans, and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, before funding and authorities expire is now Jan. 19, 2024. The remaining eight appropriations bills will need to be passed by Feb. 2, 2024. Under H.R. 6363, Congress also passed a one-year extension of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, which expired on Sept. 30, 2023. This extension will continue to provide funding and authorities for farm bill programs. The extension also prevented a reversion to 1938 and 1949 permanent law, which would have had a disastrous effect on the agriculture sector. It is anticipated that Congress will pass new five-year farm bill legislation before the 2018 Farm Bill’s extension expires on Sept. 30, 2024.  

Short but Sweet, More News Below! 


  • A $3.5 billion notice of funding opportunity was recently announced by the DOE to help boost the domestic supply chain and production of advanced batteries and batteries materials. This funding was largely provided by the BIL and applications will be open until January 2024. Learn More
  • Through the Rural Energy for America Program, $145 million of IRA funding is being released to provide 700 loan and grant awards to rural entities looking to lower consumer costs and improve resiliency and energy efficiency. Read More
  • New proposed tax guidance that would allow Section 48 tax credits to be used for clean energy storage and clean power projects beyond their current use in the solar power industry. The credits which could be used to make up for some project costs are intended to facilitate development of renewable energy generation and storage by clarifying applicability and improving developer confidence. Learn More


  • The EPA has released $2 billion in new IRA funding for projects in underserved communities facing disproportionate environmental harm and pollution. Approximately 170 projects focusing on resilience improvement, pollution monitoring, and the development of a green workforce will be awarded funds through November 2024. Learn More
  • $2 billion is being invested by the Biden administration to help facilitate a market for and incentivize manufacturing of low-carbon construction materials. Funds will be used to pay for low-carbon advanced concrete, steel, glass, and asphalt materials on 153 projects. Read More
  • In the first major update of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), better known as the anti-redlining law, since 2005 through the recent final rule released by the Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, banks will now be incentivized to invest in climate resiliency in disadvantaged communities by receiving CRA credits for those investments. Guidance was also released to help large banks measure and mitigate their climate-related financial risk. Read More
  • A final rule has been issued by the EPA that updates how states must implement and enforce Section 111 of the Clean Air Act to address existing sources of air pollution. States will have 18 months to craft and submit their implementation plans to the EPA. Learn More
  • The EPA has released new draft guidance to clarify the applicability of permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act for water pollution discharges through groundwater in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 decision in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife FundRead More


  • Passenger rail received a significant boost in funding when the Biden administration announced a $16.4 billion investment in Amtrack’s Northeastern corridor, the busiest in the U.S., to upgrade aging infrastructure. Read More
  • The Biden administration has directed $653 million to improve port infrastructure through 41 projects across the nation that will improving capacity and reducing emissions. These projects will include the electrification of port facilities, dock replacements, berth reconstructions and rail extensions. Read More
  • The Department of Transportation (DOT) is releasing $86.2 million dollars in grants through the Safe Streets and Roads for All program to regional, local and tribal communities to help improve roadway safety. The funds will largely be focused on helping these entities develop plans and designs for safer roads. Learn More.  
  • The DOT recently announced $3.4 million in grants through the new Rural and Tribal Assistance Pilot Program to help 13 underserved rural and tribal communities with developing transportation solutions. Learn More
  • The Federal Highway Administration has issued a final rule which requires all states and localities to track the greenhouse gas generating capacity of all new transportation projects built with federal funds using new performance measures. The rule also asks these entities to set greenhouse gas reduction targets for themselves, but they will not be penalized if these targets are not met. Read More


  • The Biden administration is releasing $1.7 billion in additional IRA funding for farm conservation programs to help further the development and implementation of climate-smart agricultural projects, such as biofuel production, carbon soil sequestration manure management and rural energy development. Read More
  • In an effort to improve the equality, transparency, consistency and competition of the U.S. organic market, the USDA has released the Organic Livestock and Poultry Standard, which updates organic labeling standards to be more stringent. Learn More
  • The USDA has issued new reforms to improve the transparency and competitiveness of the meat industry. New rules include mandating that the federal government must purchase domestic meat, meatpackers much have transparency about contract risks when entering into agreements with contractors, and seed companies must display common varietal and brand names side by side, as is done in the pharmaceutical industry. The USDA has also created a new office to fight agricultural monopolies. Read More

NCSL News and Resources 

  • NCSL’s new Recycling Policy Toolkit provides background into the issue of recycling, how states can work to revitalize their markets for recycled materials and explores the issue of extended producer responsibility. Check out the Recycling Policy Toolkit
  • Explore what actions state legislatures took in 2022 to increase road safety. See NCSL’s latest Traffic Safety Trends report.  
  • Learn about anticipated state legislative actions aimed at addressing electric vehicle charging fees and road user charges. Check out NCSL’s Shifting Gears to Find a Gas Tax Alternative and Fight Impaired Driving
  • Contact NCSL

  • For more information on this topic, use this form to reach NCSL staff.