Executive order aims to encourage use of American-made products

construction workers

In January, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that aims to increase the use of domestically-produced iron, steel, cement and manufactured goods on a broad range of water and other infrastructure projects that receive federal funding assistance.

However, the order does not alter the underlying statutory Buy American requirements that currently apply to a number of federal funding programs for water infrastructure.

The new executive order directs the EPA administrator and the heads of other federal departments and agencies that administer federal infrastructure funding assistance programs to “encourage” recipients of federal aid “to use, to the greatest extent practicable, iron and aluminum as well as steel, cement, and other manufactured products produced in the United States in every contract, subcontract, purchase order, or sub‑award” funded through federal assistance. Agency heads are directed to report back to the White House within 120 days on steps they have taken or plan to take to maximize the use of domestic materials and goods on federally funded projects under their purview.

EPA’s major drinking water and wastewater infrastructure funding programs are currently subject to statutory Buy American requirements that only apply to iron and steel products used in the construction of the projects. The Buy American provisions that apply to the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds as well as the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program also include pathways through which the domestic iron and steel requirement can be waived if certain conditions are met – such as if equivalent domestic materials are not available or would increase overall project costs by more than 25 percent.

The executive order would not formally alter or expand these existing requirements, but it could prompt EPA and other agencies to be more stringent about issuing waivers or to give additional preference to project applications that promise the use of domestic goods beyond what is required by the statute.

Source: Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA). Read more in AMWA’s weekly Monday Morning Briefing.

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