Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Allocates Funding for Appalachian Region

December 15, 2021

Pardon Our Dust

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On Nov. 15, 2021, President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) with the goal of rebuilding America’s roads, bridges and rails; expanding access to clean drinking water; ensuring residential access to high-speed internet; and investing in communities that have been left behind.

Communities in Appalachia celebrated the IIJA’s incorporation of numerous funding initiatives for infrastructure and economic development in the region. The IIJA includes robust funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission, the region’s transportation network, an Appalachian Regional Energy Hub and the deployment of high-speed broadband in the region. The IIJA also establishes new funding programs to address abandoned wells and mines.

The following portions of the IIJA detail these allocations:

Division A (Surface Transportation), Section 11133: Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program. This section establishes a rural surface transportation grant program for the improvement and expansion of surface transportation infrastructure in rural areas. The goals of the program include: (1) increasing connectivity, (2) improving safety and reliability of the movement of people and freight, and (3) generating regional economic growth and improving quality of life. 

A grant under the program must be at least $25 million. The federal share must be at least 80 percent but can reach up to 100 percent for projects on the Appalachian Development Highway System. No more than 10 percent of funds may be used for projects smaller than $25 million, and at least 25 percent of funds must be reserved for projects that further the completion of designated routes of the Appalachian Development Highway System. In addition, 15 percent of the funds are made available to states with a higher-than-national-average rate of rural roadway fatalities as a result of lane departures. 

Division A (Surface Transportation), Section 11506: Appalachian Regional Commission. This section reauthorizes funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) at $200 million for each of fiscal years 2022 through 2026. This funding includes $5 million per year to establish an Appalachian Regional Energy Hub for natural gas and natural gas liquids, and $20 million per year to deploy high-speed broadband in the Appalachian region. This section also adds Catawba and Cleveland counties (in North Carolina) as part of the ARC region. ARC’s funding through the IIJA is in addition to the Commission’s appropriation of $210 million through the FY22 Energy & Water Development Appropriations Act.

Division C (Transit), Section 30006: Formula Grants for Rural Areas. This section amends the Rural Area Formula Grant Program in 49 U.S.C. § 5311 by establishing fixed percentages for the Public Transportation on Indian Reservations program and the Appalachian Development Public Transportation Assistance program. These programs will receive increases in annual apportionments as a result of this authorization.

Division D (Energy), Section 40601: Orphaned Well Site Plugging, Remediation and Restoration. This section provides over $4.7 billion for programs to plug, remediate and reclaim orphaned oil and gas wells, including support for state and tribal programs. Orphaned oil and gas wells jeopardize public health and safety by contaminating groundwater with toxic chemicals, emitting noxious gases and harming wildlife. This program will distribute funding for plugging orphaned wells, remediating and reclaiming well pads, remediating soil and restoring native species habitats, decommissioning or removing associated pipelines, and determining the identities of parties potentially responsible for the orphaned wells for reimbursement purposes.

Division D (Energy), Section 40701: Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund. This section allocates $11.3 billion for abandoned mine land and water reclamation projects. These funds will support the creation of jobs for coal communities by funding projects that close dangerous mine shafts, reclaim unstable slopes, improve water quality by treating acid mine drainage and restore water supplies damaged by mining. This section also reauthorizes the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fee for 13 years at 80 percent of its current level.

Division J (Appropriations): Division J includes $47.272 billion in funding for the Highway Infrastructure Program, of which $1.25 billion will be allocated specifically for the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS). This funding will support the 33 corridors of the ADHS, ultimately improving access to regional and national markets and accelerating growth opportunities in the region.