The LIFT Act would authorize $15 billion in pre-development grants and technical assistance to help communities plan and facilitate climate-resilient infrastructure projects and access federal funding

Bill Text (PDF)

Washington (June 21, 2023) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety, and Representative Troy Carter (LA-02) today reintroduced the Local Infrastructure Funding & Technical Assistance (LIFT) Act, legislation that would provide $15 billion in pre-development funds and technical assistance to help under-resourced and environmental justice communities get started on scoping, planning, and catalyzing climate-smart infrastructure projects.

The funding and assistance that would be provided by the LIFT Act is critical for conceiving, advancing, and securing grants necessary to realize the full economic and climate benefits of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Inflation Reduction Act. The federal grants that would be made available through the LIFT Act would provide key support to economic development districts, Indian tribes, cities and states, higher education institutions and non-profit organizations as they plan to build and deploy climate-resilient infrastructure, by covering predevelopment activities such as market assessments, site acquisitions, and permitting costs. Every public dollar spent for project pre-development is projected to result in $16 to $20 in total economic benefits and funding leveraged—an economic engine and lifeline for communities.

“It’s simple. Environmental justice communities living on the frontlines of the climate crisis should be able to come up with projects that use climate funding made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act to keep them safe and healthy,” said Senator Markey. “The LIFT Act would empower local leaders with the tools they need to develop projects that will help their communities thrive—building climate solutions, good jobs, and economic growth where we need it most.”

“The LIFT Act continues our nation’s economic recovery and energizes our existential battle against the climate crisis,” said Representative Carter. “By providing funding to the communities that need it the most – the LIFT Act will enable us to better overcome predevelopment roadblocks and realize the enormous potential that recent historic federal investments have to jumpstart transformative climate-resilient infrastructure.”

A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.

Specifically, the LIFT Act would:

  1. Provide grants for pre-development activities, which are tasks completed before construction and outside investment can occur on infrastructure projects;
  2. Provide technical assistance and grants to eligible recipients for capacity building;
  3. Reduce up-front capital costs from communities by allowing the Secretary of Commerce to provide 50 percent of the grant prior to starting pre-development activities;
  4. Direct the Secretary of Commerce to provide 50 percent of all investments to environmental justice communities; and,
  5. Prioritize grants for activities implemented by entities with leaders from environmental justice communities that are intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, increase climate adaptation and resiliency, improve public health improvements, help modernize communities, and undertaken in partnership with community-based organizations, institutions of higher education, and labor organizations.

Cosponsors in the Senate include Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

The LIFT Act is endorsed by Milken Institute, Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Groundwork USA, and The Greenlining Institute.

“The federal government has recently approved almost $1 trillion in new funding to support long-term climate resiliency through new investments designed to close our nation’s $27 trillion infrastructure investment gap through 2050. To help leverage and attract additional private investment and accelerate the use of public-private partnerships to close the nation’s long-term infrastructure funding chasm, additional investment in catalytic predevelopment capital is still needed,” said Dan Carol, Senior Director of Public Finance at Milken Institute. “The Local Infrastructure Funding & Technical Assistance Act would provide what our research shows is the most high-impact form of investment: predevelopment grant funds that allow high-need communities to build a stronger pipeline of investable local infrastructure projects that can qualify for both federal funding and attract new private investments. As Congress considers bipartisan ideas to modernize the EDA in the coming reauthorization process, new investment in predevelopment funding is the best investment we can make to get the most bang for the infrastructure buck.”

“With funding identified to meet the nation’s infrastructure investment gap through 2050, investing in pre-development and specific technical assistance to develop the ‘human capital’ is critical to guarantee that federal dollars meet the intended goal of achieving long-term sustainability and resiliency, particularly in environmental justice communities. The Local Infrastructure Fund & Technical Assistance Act would help address the need for pre-development plans to allow rural, small, and disadvantaged communities the opportunity to better position themselves to compete for federal funding, devise plans that will identify and prioritize their short and long-term needs, develop the capacity to own, manage and operate federal infrastructure dollars and become sustainable and climate resilient,” said Olga Morales-Pate, CEO of Rural Community Assistance Partnership. “When communities are given the opportunity to devise their own future, it is a win-win for everyone involved. Technical assistance, ‘human capital’ capacity development, and pre-development investments are key ingredients to move towards sustainability.”

“As the climate crisis continues to increase the intensity of extreme weather events such as heat waves, flooding, and wildfires, the impacts are felt most acutely in environmental justice communities where resilience infrastructure has been systemically underfunded for generations. We know that significant and sustained investment in repairing and expanding this infrastructure is one of the most effective options for reducing the human impacts of these disasters. While BIL and other landmark climate legislation have created new pathways for transformative investments in climate resilience and green infrastructure, Senator Markey’s LIFT Act creates a bridge that ensures EJ communities have access to these resources. This critical investment is essential for the equitable allocation of funding and climate resiliency in the coming decades,” said Heather McMann, CEO of Groundwork USA.

“Communities of color and low-income communities are on the frontlines of the climate crisis, often with the least amount of resources to lead climate resilience initiatives in their neighborhoods. This is the result of decades of inequitable funding, environmental racism, and discriminatory practices like redlining that deprived these communities of resources. The LIFT Act is an important step towards equity and addressing the systemic barriers communities of color and low-income communities face in building climate resilience. By providing critical investments to support frontline community engagement, planning, capacity building, and technical assistance needs, lawmakers can ensure climate investments have the greatest impact, while empowering communities that have historically faced deep disinvestment,” said Sona Mohnot, Director of Climate Resilience of The Greenlining Institute.