Tester Secures Big Wins for Water Infrastructure and Water Quality Protections in Annual Spending Bills, Urges Full LWCF Funding

Legislation includes more than $2.7 billion for water infrastructure, Tester’s wildfire funding fix, and protections for Badger-Two Medicine

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today secured billions for Montana water infrastructure and water quality protections as well as big wins for Montana’s public lands as a part of the bipartisan 2020 Interior Appropriations Bill. Tester also continued his years-long push to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

“This bill will invest billions in water infrastructure projects and help make sure all Montanans have access to clean drinking water, and it will give our firefighters the resources they need to protect our communities from longer, hotter fire seasons,” said Tester. “But the fact of the matter is, on LWCF funding, anything less than the full $900 million for this bipartisan program is simply not good enough.”

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester is responsible for writing the 12 bills that fund the federal government each year.

Among the provisions that Tester successfully included in the 2020 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Bill are:

  • Water Infrastructure: $2.7 billion in EPA state revolving funds to support water infrastructure.
  • Superfund: $1.16 billion for Superfund cleanup, enforcement, and research.
  • Land and Water Conservation Fund: $465 million for the LWCF, including $21.75 in funding for conservation projects across Montana (listed below). Tester continues to fight for the full $900 million in authorized funding for the LWCF and has introduced his Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act every Congress since 2009. He is the only member of Montana’s congressional delegation to consistently request full funding for the LWCF.
    • $8 million for the Clearwater Blackfoot Project in the Lolo National Forest.
    • $4.4 million for the Lolo Trails Landmark Project in the Lolo National Forest.
    • $1 million for the Falls Creek Access Project in the Lewis and Clark National Forest.
    • $2 million for Montana National Wildlife Refuges and Conservation Areas.
    • $3.5 million for the Blackfoot River Watershed.
    • $2.85 million for the Lost Trail Conservation Project.
  • Wildland Fire Management: Implements the wildfire funding fix Senator Tester fought for in the Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations bill. This frees up $2.25 billion in additional funding that Interior and Forest Service can tap into when fire spending goes above the ten year average, eliminating the need for Forest Service to borrow from its other programs when firefighting costs run over budget.
  • Pollution Grants: $172.3 million for Nonpoint Source Management Program grants, helping control waste runoff into rivers and lakes.
  • PFOA/PFOS: $25 million for monitoring and testing of PFAs across the agencies, and the bill directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalize its maximum contaminant levels for the two most damaging chemicals under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
  • Transboundary Watershed Management: $1.5 million for U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) streamgages to monitor transboundary watersheds and continuing support for monitoring at Lake Koocanusca. Additionally, the EPA and State Departments are directed to coordinate with local stakeholders and provide a report to the Committee on remaining data gaps for the watershed.
  • Badger-Two Medicine: Encourages the Interior Department to work with the Blackfeet tribe to protect Badger-Two Medicine and directs them to report to the Committee on their progress.
  • Libby: Urges the EPA to ensure that any remaining settlement funding from W.R. Grace is available for the Libby Community to conduct operations and maintenance once cleanup activities are completed at the Superfund site.
  • Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD): $1 million for USGS to conduct research on CWD, in coordination with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.