President Donald Trump signed the Water Infrastructure Funding Transfer Act last month, authorizing states to steer up to 5 percent of their Clean Water State Revolving Fund federal grant dollars to their Drinking Water State Revolving Fund through October 2020. Transferred funds may be used to provide financial support in the form of forgiveness of principal, negative interest loans or grants. New provisions are in addition to the existing transfer authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
In December of 2018, the Trump Administration unveiled its Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts. It spells robust actions across the federal government, including Environmental Protection Agency development of innovative approaches to help finance projects that reduce exposure to lead or other contaminants in drinking water. In 2018 and 2019, the agency’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program prioritized projects that address lead and other contaminants in drinking water systems. Additionally, EPA is issuing grants under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act to fund lead reduction projects and support the voluntary testing of drinking water in schools and childcare centers. The agency has likewise supported the use of the Drinking Water SRF to help finance lead mitigation projects.
“President Trump has made reducing lead exposure a top priority across his administration, and his signature of this new law is yet another example of the ways we are providing communities with additional tools,” notes EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This new law gives our state and local partners an important flexible financing option to fund projects that will reduce lead in drinking water and protect public health.”
COMMERCE DEPARTMENT PROBES REBAR IMPORTS
The U.S. Department of Commerce has initiated an inquiry to determine if concrete reinforcing steel bar, bent at one or both ends, circumvents existing antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) orders covering imports from Mexico. The action responds to requests from domestic operators Byer Steel, Cascade Steel Rolling Mills, Commercial Metals, Gerdau Ameristeel, Nucor Corp., and Steel Dynamics.
Commerce estimates 2018 imports of rebar from Mexico at just over $50 million. U.S. law authorizes the agency to conduct a circumvention inquiry when evidence suggests that merchandise subject to an existing AD/CVD order undergoes a minor alteration, bringing the product outside the scope of that order. If officials preliminarily determine that circumvention is occurring, they will instruct Customs and Border Protection to begin collecting cash deposits on rebar from Mexico that is subject to the inquiry. Duties will be imposed on future imports, and on any unliquidated entries since the date on which Commerce initiated the circumvention inquiry.
The strict enforcement of U.S. trade law is a primary focus of the Trump Administration, the agency notes. Since January 2017, Commerce has initiated 26 new circumvention inquiries, a nearly 200 percent increase from the number of such actions during the comparable period in the previous administration.