Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Malinowski (NJ-7)
(Washington, DC) Today, Representative Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) introduced the Natural Infrastructure and Resiliency Act. This bipartisan bill defines natural infrastructure in the FAST Act, and allows natural infrastructure projects to apply for Department of Transportation grants. Representatives Albio Sires (D-NJ), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and Francis Rooney (R-FL) have signed on as original cosponsors.
Natural infrastructure uses or emulates natural ecological features. Examples include building dunes in coastal communities or using trees and plants with deep root systems to manage stormwater runoff. These methods are often more cost effective and resilient than cement infrastructure, while doing far less damage to the environment. Currently, natural infrastructure projects are largely funded on a county and municipal level. By creating a federal definition of natural infrastructure, this bill allows these vital projects to compete for federal grants to expand their size and scope.
The bill has received the endorsements of the NJ Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, and the League of Conservation Voters.
“Our homes and communities are increasingly threatened by extreme weather events, and we’re learning that natural fortifications like dunes and plants can be more resilient than traditional cement. This bill makes it possible to expand the size and scope of these natural infrastructure projects with the support of federal dollars,” said Congressman Tom Malinowski (D-NJ).
“America’s dynamic landscape is one of our nation’s greatest assets — and it only makes sense for future building projects to utilize “natural infrastructure” when possible. For too long, however, these projects have been excluded from DOT grantmaking. I am proud to cosponsor Rep. Malinowski’s Natural Infrastructure and Resiliency Act, which provides a working definition for natural infrastructure, and allows these valuable projects to compete for DOT grants. This common-sense, bipartisan proposal is long overdue, and I look forward to its swift passage in the House,” said Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL).
“Any plan to address global climate change must be an all-of-the-above strategy. This bill to make natural infrastructure projects eligible for federal infrastructure grants, which New Jersey would greatly benefit from, is a step forward in climate change mitigation that I am proud to support,” said Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ).
“Natural infrastructure is critical to protecting and preserving our environmental treasures. This legislation will make it easier to complete larger scale projects such as beach renourishment, dune restoration and planting of mangroves, that cities and counties would struggle to do on their own. Southwest Florida and coastal communities all across the country will benefit from this bill,” said Congressman Francis Rooney (R-FL).
“The Nature Conservancy is thrilled to support the resilience provision drafted by Representative Malinowski. As we make investments in our nation’s transportation infrastructure, its essential that we ensure those investments will endure in the face of increased impacts such as sea level rise, extreme rain events and coastal storms. By building infrastructure to withstand these increased impacts, we’ll be ultimately saving taxpayers money not having to rebuild failed infrastructure over and over,” said Stacy McCormack, Government Relations Manager, the Nature Conservancy.