WIFIA Federal Compliance Requirements
Projects receiving WIFIA credit assistance must comply with all federal laws and regulations, including environmental compliance requirements and other compliance requirements. The WIFIA program will review application materials and work with prospective borrowers to make determinations, conduct consultations with other agencies, and ensure compliance. The following requirements are particularly important for WIFIA projects.
More information about federal requirements and implementation can be found in the WIFIA Borrower Guide to Federal Requirements.
- Build America, Buy America Act
- WIFIA borrowers are required to use iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials produced in the United States.
- EPA finalized a program waiver of the Build America, Buy America Act requirements for eligible WIFIA-financed projects that have initiated project design planning prior to May 14, 2022.
- National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA)
Each proposed WIFIA project must be assessed for its impact on the environment under the guidelines set forth by NEPA. EPA will not issue a term sheet or obligate funds for a project until a final agency determination, such as a Categorical Exclusion (CATEX), Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), or a Record of Decision (ROD), has been issued. EPA determines if a proposed project qualifies for a Categorical Exclusion, using EPA’s NEPA implementing regulations, which specify EPA’s environmental review procedures. EPA considers EPA’s NEPA Implementing Regulations for Environmental Assessments (EA) and Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) to determine if an EA or EIS should be prepared for a project. EPA also considers the NEPA implementing regulations for EISs. Table H-2 of the WIFIA Program Handbook outlines the implementing regulations for EAs and EISs.
WIFIA projects may also be eligible for coverage under the WIFIA Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA). The PEA analyzes the potential environmental impacts related to the issuance of credit assistance under WIFIA. The PEA is an innovative approach to environmental review covering a group of projects that are similar in scope, scale, and magnitude, and that have similar types of impacts, rather than a singular project. The PEA provides a streamlined NEPA compliance path for water and wastewater infrastructure projects with the use of an environmental questionnaire. Projects covered under the PEA do not require an additional public notification or public comment period.
WIFIA credit assistance projects qualify for coverage under this PEA when:
- The impacts from their projects are within the scope of those considered in Section 4 of the PEA,
- Proper supporting documentation is provided, and
- A memorandum to the record is developed by EPA using the PEA Questionnaire for WIFIA Credit Assistance Projects in Appendix A or Questionnaire for WIFIA Credit Assistance SRF Programs in Appendix B (updated February 2021).
- The environmental compliance status for closed loans is listed on the WIFIA closed loan web page under the environmental review status column. For more information about EPA compliance with NEPA, visit EPA's web page: Compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act.
- National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA)
Projects must comply with the NHPA, which requires consultation with the appropriate Historic Preservation Office. The fundamental responsibility of federal agencies under Section 106 of the NHPA is to consider the effect of the undertaking on any district, site, building, structure, or object that is included in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register prior to approval of the expenditure of federal funds. For information on the 106 process and how the public can become involved, see A Citizen's Guide to Section 106 Review.
- Endangered Species Act (ESA)
All projects applying for WIFIA funding must be evaluated for their potential impact on endangered, threatened, proposed endangered, or candidate species and critical habitat. WIFIA will make determinations for each species in the project area based on project location and construction/design plans. Under Section 7 of the ESA, actions that may affect listed species or their critical habitat must be reviewed through a consultation process between the EPA and either the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is responsible for terrestrial and freshwater species, or the National Marine Fisheries Service, which is responsible for most marine species.