On November 15, 2021, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (P.L. 117-58), known as the "Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021" (IIJA) was signed into law. The BIL specifically identifies the National Estuary Program (NEP) as a key partner for implementation of funding and provides 132 million dollars split equally amongst the 28 longstanding NEPs for five years (2022-2026), providing approximately $900,000 in annual funding to each NEP. See the National Estuary Program Fact Sheet and the EPA Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Story Map for additional background information.
What is the purpose of these funds?
These funds are meant to accelerate and more effectively implement the Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP), a blueprint developed locally by each NEP that establishes management goals and objectives for the estuary complexes. Funding will be utilized to prioritize projects in, and benefit to, underserved and overburdened communities, build the adaptive capacity of ecosystems and communities, and leverage and support additional resources for successful planning and implementation.
Where is this money coming from?
BIL funding to the NEP's is being administered through the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA). The EPA ensures that the money is being allocated to projects that align with the program goals, and requires each estuary program to submit 5-year work plans, and annual work plans.
How will this funding benefit the Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine system?
EPA has approved NEP's long-term strategy that describes the key activities they will pursue with BIL funding over a 5-year period. APNEP is looking to partner with community partners on planning and implementation projects that relate to the five focus areas in the CCMP: water quality, wetlands, community resiliency, and submerged aquatic vegetation. APNEP wants to ensure that all initiatives are feasible, carefully evaluated, interdisciplinary in purpose, and integrated across these focus areas. For this reason, the partnership has proposed examples of projects that are expected to be supported in the long-term strategy, but is working closely with the Management Conference and partners to carefully develop our approach toward project prioritization.
How will this funding will benefit communities in the Albemarle-Pamlico region of North Carolina and Virginia?
The National Estuary Program is dedicated to making sure that APNEP's work is equitable and serves the communities that need it most. Keeping in line with the Justice40 initiative, EPA has set a goal that a minimum of 40% of all BIL funding will be prioritized towards *disadvantaged communities across NEP's nationwide. This means that funding APNEP seeks to fund projects that benefit communities that are most under-resources and overburdened by environmental impacts.
How do I learn more?
The EPA has a BIL webpage that includes an information memo regarding NEP funding. You are encouraged to visit this website to learn more. By subscribing to ANPEP's newsletter, you can receive important updates on APNEP's work and BIL related efforts. APNEP staff would love to hear fom you directly if you would like to be included in our list of partner contacts interested in funding opportunities, or would like to inform staff of regional community efforts that could directly benefit from BIL funding support. Please contact us at email@example.com.
APNEP strives to engage as many NC and VA citizens as possible in these efforts! Residents are our most vital partner in protecting the Albemarle-Pamlico watershed. There are many ways people can get involved, from serving on one of our committees and teams, volunteering with one of our partner organizations, or simply getting outside and exploring the beauty and diversity that the AP has to offer!
If you have questions or input please contact APNEP directly.
To learn more about community resilience and other funding opportunities please visit our work page.
*Federal and state programs have used the term "disadvantaged communities" to prioritize funding for environmental justice initiatives based on Executive Order 14008 terminology. APNEP acknowledges that other terms like marginalized, underserved, under-resourced, and overburdened communities are often used and are context specific. The preferred terminology is for the local community to decide. APNEP will follow the most currently guidance that relies on language used in EO 14008 until community-based BIL initiatives are in motion and terminology is project specific depending on communities guidance and preferences.