Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for Applications for Credit Assistance Under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Program, 13657-13662 [2019-06731]

Download as PDF khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 66 / Friday, April 5, 2019 / Notices assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at FercOnlineSupport@ferc.gov or toll free at (866) 208–3676, or for TTY, contact (202) 502–8659. Any person wishing to comment on the EA may do so. Your comments should focus on the EA’s disclosure and discussion of potential environmental effects, reasonable alternatives, and measures to avoid or lessen environmental impacts. The more specific your comments, the more useful they will be. To ensure that the Commission has the opportunity to consider your comments prior to making its decision on this project, it is important that we receive your comments in Washington, DC on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on May 1, 2019. For your convenience, there are three methods you can use to file your comments with the Commission. The Commission encourages electronic filing of comments and has staff available to assist you at (866) 208–3676 or FercOnlineSupport@ferc.gov. Please carefully follow these instructions so that your comments are properly recorded. (1) You can file your comments electronically using the eComment feature located on the Commission’s website (www.ferc.gov) under the link to Documents and Filings. This is an easy method for submitting brief, text-only comments on a project; (2) You can also file your comments electronically using the eFiling feature on the Commission’s website (www.ferc.gov) under the link to Documents and Filings. With eFiling, you can provide comments in a variety of formats by attaching them as a file with your submission. New eFiling users must first create an account by clicking on ‘‘eRegister.’’ You must select the type of filing you are making. If you are filing a comment on a particular project, please select ‘‘Comment on a Filing’’; or (3) You can file a paper copy of your comments by mailing them to the following address. Be sure to reference the project docket number (CP18–548– 000) with your submission: Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426. Any person seeking to become a party to the proceeding must file a motion to intervene pursuant to Rule 214 of the Commission’s Rules of Practice and Procedures (18 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 385.214). Only intervenors have the right to seek rehearing or judicial review of the Commission’s decision. The Commission may grant affected VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:46 Apr 04, 2019 Jkt 247001 landowners and others with environmental concerns intervenor status upon showing good cause by stating that they have a clear and direct interest in this proceeding which no other party can adequately represent. Simply filing environmental comments will not give you intervenor status, but you do not need intervenor status to have your comments considered. Additional information about the project is available from the Commission’s Office of External Affairs, at (866) 208–FERC, or on the FERC website (www.ferc.gov) using the eLibrary link. The eLibrary link also provides access to the texts of formal documents issued by the Commission, such as orders, notices, and rulemakings. In addition, the Commission offers a free service called eSubscription which allows you to keep track of all formal issuances and submittals in specific dockets. This can reduce the amount of time you spend researching proceedings by automatically providing you with notification of these filings, document summaries, and direct links to the documents. Go to www.ferc.gov/docsfiling/esubscription.asp. Dated: April 1, 2019. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary. [FR Doc. 2019–06714 Filed 4–4–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717–01–P ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [FRL–9991–81–OW] Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for Applications for Credit Assistance Under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Program Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ACTION: Notice of funding availability. AGENCY: In the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019, signed by the President on February 15, 2019, Congress provided $60 million in budget authority for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014 (WIFIA) program to cover the subsidy required to provide a much larger amount of credit assistance. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) estimates that this budget authority may provide approximately $6 billion in credit assistance and may finance approximately $12 billion in water infrastructure investment, while covering increased costs associated with SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 13657 implementing a larger program. The purpose of this notice of funding availability (NOFA) is to solicit letters of interest (LOIs) from prospective borrowers seeking credit assistance from the EPA. The EPA will evaluate and select proposed projects described in the LOIs using the selection criteria established in statute and regulation, and further described in this NOFA as well as the WIFIA program handbook. This NOFA establishes relative weights that will be used in the current LOI submittal period for the selection criteria and outlines the process that prospective borrowers should follow to be considered for WIFIA credit assistance. In addition, the EPA reserves the right to make additional awards under this announcement, consistent with Agency policy and guidance, if additional funding is available after the original selections are made. DATES: The LOI submittal period will begin on April 5, 2019 and end at 11:59 p.m. EDT on July 5, 2019. ADDRESSES: Prospective borrowers should submit all LOIs electronically via email at: wifia@epa.gov or via EPA’s SharePoint site. To be granted access to the SharePoint site, prospective borrowers should contact wifia@epa.gov and request a link to the SharePoint site, where they can securely upload their LOIs. Requests to upload documents should be made no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT on July 1, 2019. The EPA will notify prospective borrowers that their LOI has been received via a confirmation email. Prospective borrowers can access additional information, including the WIFIA program handbook and application materials, on the WIFIA website: https://www.epa.gov/wifia/. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: For a project to be considered during a selection round, the EPA must receive a LOI, via email or SharePoint, before the corresponding deadline listed above. The EPA is only able to accept emails of 25 MB or smaller with unzipped attachments (the EPA cannot accept zipped files). If necessary due to size restrictions, prospective borrowers may submit attachments separately, as long as they are received by the deadline. When writing a LOI, prospective borrowers are encouraged to fill out the WIFIA LOI form and follow the guidelines contained on the WIFIA program website: https://www.epa.gov/ wifia/how-apply-wifia-assistance0#materials. Prospective borrowers should provide the LOI and any attachments as Microsoft Word documents or searchable PDF files, E:\FR\FM\05APN1.SGM 05APN1 13658 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 66 / Friday, April 5, 2019 / Notices whenever possible, to facilitate the EPA’s review. Additionally, prospective borrowers should ensure that financial information, including the pro forma financial statement, is in a formulabased Microsoft Excel document. Section V of this NOFA provides additional details on the LOI’s content. The EPA will invite each prospective borrower whose project proposal is selected for continuation in the process to submit a final application. Final applications should be received by the EPA within 365 days of the invitation to apply. The EPA will host a series of inperson sessions and webinars to provide further information about submitting a LOI. The in-person sessions and webinar schedule and registration directions can be found on the WIFIA program website: www.epa.gov/wifia. Prospective borrowers with questions about the program or interest in meeting with the WIFIA program staff may send a request to wifia@epa.gov. The EPA will meet with all prospective borrowers interested in discussing the program, but only prior to submission of a LOI. Table of Contents I. Background II. Program Funding III. Eligibility Requirements IV. Types of Credit Assistance V. Letters of Interest and Applications VI. Fees VII. Selection Criteria khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES I. Background Congress enacted WIFIA as part of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA). Codified at 33 U.S.C. 3901–3914, WIFIA authorizes a federal credit program for water infrastructure projects to be administered by the EPA. WIFIA authorizes the EPA to provide federal credit assistance in the form of secured (direct) loans or loan guarantees for eligible water infrastructure projects. The WIFIA program’s mission is to accelerate investment in our nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost, supplemental credit assistance under customized terms to creditworthy drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects of national and regional significance. II. Program Funding Congress appropriated $60 million in funding to cover the subsidy cost of providing WIFIA credit assistance. The subsidy cost covers the Federal government’s risk that the loan may not be paid back. The EPA anticipates that the average subsidy cost for WIFIAfunded projects will be relatively low; VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:46 Apr 04, 2019 Jkt 247001 therefore, this funding can be leveraged into a much larger amount of credit assistance. The EPA estimates that this appropriation will allow the Agency to provide approximately $6 billion 1 in long-term, low-cost financing to water and wastewater projects and accelerate approximately $12 billion in infrastructure investment around the country. Recognizing the need that exists in both small and large communities to invest in infrastructure, Congress stipulated in statute that the EPA set aside 15 percent of the budget authority appropriated each year for small communities, defined as systems that serve a population of less than 25,000. Of the funds set aside, any amount not obligated by June 1 of the fiscal year for which budget authority is set aside may be used for any size community. Regardless of whether the EPA obligates these funds by June 1 of the fiscal year for which budget authority is set aside, the EPA will endeavor to use 15 percent of its budget authority for small communities. In addition to assisting both large and small projects and communities, WIFIA may be an attractive borrowing mechanism for a variety of different borrower and credit types. The EPA anticipates that municipalities, private entities, project financings, State Revolving Fund programs, and tribes will benefit from the low cost and debt structuring flexibilities that the WIFIA loans can offer. III. Eligibility Requirements The WIFIA statute and implementing rules set forth eligibility requirements for prospective borrowers, projects, and project costs. The requirements outlined below are described in greater detail in the WIFIA program handbook. A. Eligible Applicants Prospective borrowers must be one of the following in order to be eligible for WIFIA credit assistance: (i) A corporation; (ii) A partnership; (iii) A joint venture; (iv) A trust; (v) A federal, state, or local governmental entity, agency, or instrumentality; (vi) A tribal government or a consortium of tribal governments; or 1 This estimated loan volume is provided for reference only. Consistent with the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990 and the requirements of the Office of Management and Budget, the actual subsidy cost of providing credit assistance is based on individual project characteristics and calculated on a project-by-project basis. Thus, actual lending capacity may vary. PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 (vii) A state infrastructure financing authority. B. Eligible Projects The WIFIA statute authorizes the EPA to provide credit assistance for a wide variety of projects. Projects must be one of the following in order to be eligible for WIFIA credit assistance: (i) One or more activities that are eligible for assistance under section 603(c) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1383(c)), notwithstanding the public ownership requirement under paragraph (1) of that subsection; (ii) One or more activities described in section 1452(a)(2) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300j– 12(a)(2)); (iii) A project for enhanced energy efficiency in the operation of a public water system or a publicly owned treatment works; (iv) A project for repair, rehabilitation, or replacement of a treatment works, community water system, or aging water distribution or waste collection facility (including a facility that serves a population or community of an Indian reservation); (v) A brackish or sea water desalination project, including chloride control, a managed aquifer recharge project, a water recycling project, or a project to provide alternative water supplies to reduce aquifer depletion; (vi) A project to prevent, reduce, or mitigate the effects of drought, including projects that enhance the resilience of drought-stricken watersheds; (vii) Acquisition of real property or an interest in real property— (a) If the acquisition is integral to a project described in paragraphs (i) through (v); or (b) Pursuant to an existing plan that, in the judgment of the Administrator, would mitigate the environmental impacts of water resources infrastructure projects otherwise eligible for assistance under this section; (viii) A combination of projects, each of which is eligible under paragraph (i) or (ii), for which a state infrastructure financing authority submits to the Administrator a single application; or (ix) A combination of projects secured by a common security pledge, each of which is eligible under paragraph (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), or (vii), for which an eligible entity, or a combination of eligible entities, submits a single application. C. Eligible Costs As defined under 33 U.S.C. 3906 and described in the WIFIA program E:\FR\FM\05APN1.SGM 05APN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 66 / Friday, April 5, 2019 / Notices khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES handbook, eligible project costs are costs associated with the following activities: (i) Development-phase activities, including planning, feasibility analysis (including any related analysis necessary to carry out an eligible project), revenue forecasting, environmental review, permitting, preliminary engineering and design work, and other preconstruction activities; (ii) Construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, and replacement activities; (iii) The acquisition of real property or an interest in real property (including water rights, land relating to the project, and improvements to land), environmental mitigation (including acquisitions pursuant to 33 U.S.C. 3905(8)), construction contingencies, and acquisition of equipment; and (iv) Capitalized interest necessary to meet market requirements, reasonably required reserve funds, capital issuance expenses, and other carrying costs during construction. Capitalized interest on WIFIA credit assistance may not be included as an eligible project cost. D. Threshold Requirements For a project to be considered for WIFIA credit assistance, a project must meet the following five criteria: (i) The project and obligor shall be creditworthy; (ii) A project shall have eligible project costs that are reasonably anticipated to equal or exceed $20 million, or for a project eligible under paragraphs (2) or (3) of 33 U.S.C. 3905 serving a community of not more than 25,000 individuals, project costs that are reasonably anticipated to equal or exceed $5 million; (iii) Project financing shall be repayable, in whole or in part, from state or local taxes, user fees, or other dedicated revenue sources that also secure the senior project obligations of the project; shall include a rate covenant, coverage requirement, or similar security feature supporting the project obligations; and may have a lien on revenues subject to any lien securing project obligations; (iv) In the case of a project that is undertaken by an entity that is not a state or local government or an agency or instrumentality of a State or local government, or a tribal government or consortium of tribal governments, the project that the entity is undertaking shall be publicly sponsored; and (v) The applicant shall have developed an operations and maintenance plan that identifies adequate revenues to operate, maintain, VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:46 Apr 04, 2019 Jkt 247001 and repair the project during its useful life. E. Federal Requirements All projects receiving WIFIA assistance must comply, if applicable, with federal requirements and regulations, including (but not limited to): (i) American Iron and Steel Requirement, 33 U.S.C. 3914, https:// www.epa.gov/cwsrf/state-revolvingfund-american-iron-and-steel-aisrequirement; (ii) Labor Standards, 33 U.S.C. 1372, https://www.dol.gov/whd/govcontracts/ dbra.htm; (iii) National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., https://www.epa.gov/nepa; (iv) Floodplain Management, Executive Order 11988, 42 FR 26951, May 24, 1977, https:// www.archives.gov/federal-register/ codification/executive-order/ 11988.html; (v) Archeological and Historic Preservation Act, 16 U.S.C. 469–469c, https://www.nps.gov/archeology/tools/ laws/ahpa.htm; (vi) Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq., https://www.epa.gov/clean-air-actoverview; (vii) Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq., https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/ about-office-water; (viii) Coastal Barrier Resources Act, 16 U.S.C. 3501 et seq., https:// www.fws.gov/ecological-services/ habitat-conservation/cbra/Act/ index.html; (ix) Coastal Zone Management Act, 16 U.S.C. 1451 et seq., https:// coast.noaa.gov/czm/about/; (x) Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq., https://www.fws.gov/ endangered/; (xi) Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, Executive Order 12898, 59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994, https:// www.archives.gov/files/federal-register/ executive-orders/pdf/12898.pdf; (xii) Protection of Wetlands, Executive Order 11990, 42 FR 26961, May 25, 1977, as amended by Executive Order 12608, 52 FR 34617, September 14, 1987, https://www.epa.gov/cwa-404; (xiii) Farmland Protection Policy Act, 7 U.S.C. 4201 et seq., https:// www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/ detail/?cid=nrcs143_008275; (xiv) Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, 16 U.S.C. 661–666c, as amended, https://www.fws.gov/; (xv) Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/resource/ PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 13659 document/magnuson-stevens-fisheryconservation-and-management-act; (xvi) National Historic Preservation Act, 16 U.S.C. 470 et seq., https:// www.nps.gov/archeology/tools/laws/ NHPA.htm; (xvii) Safe Drinking Water Act, 42 U.S.C. 300f et seq., https:// www.epa.gov/ground-water-anddrinking-water; (xviii) Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, 16 U.S.C. 1271 et seq., https://rivers.gov/; (xix) Debarment and Suspension, Executive Order 12549, 51 FR 6370, February 18, 1986, https:// www.archives.gov/federal-register/ codification/executive-order/ 12549.html; (xx) Demonstration Cities and Metropolitan Development Act, 42 U.S.C. 3301 et seq., as amended, and Executive Order 12372, 47 FR 30959, July 14, 1982, http://portal.hud.gov/ hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/ comm_planning; (xxii) New Restrictions on Lobbying, 31 U.S.C. 1352, https://www.epa.gov/ grants/lobbying-and-litigationinformation-federal-grants-cooperativeagreements-contracts-and-loans; (xxiii) Prohibitions relating to violations of the Clean Water Act or Clean Air Act with respect to Federal contracts, grants, or loans under 42 U.S.C. 7606 and 33 U.S.C. 1368, and Executive Order 11738, 38 FR 25161, September 12, 1973, https:// www.archives.gov/federal-register/ codification/executive-order/ 11738.html; (xxiv) The Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, 42 U.S.C. 4601 et seq., https:// www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2005-01-04/ pdf/05-6.pdf; (xxv) Age Discrimination Act, 42 U.S.C. 6101 et seq., https:// www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/adea.cfm; (xxvi) Equal Employment Opportunity, Executive Order 11246, 30 FR 12319, September 28, 1965, https:// www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/ ca_11246.htm; (xxvii) Section 13 of the Clean Water Act, Public Law 92–500, codified in 42 U.S.C. 1251, https://www.epa.gov/ocr/ external-civil-rights-compliance-officetitle-vi; (xxviii) Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 794, supplemented by Executive Orders 11914, 41 FR 17871, April 29, 1976 and 11250, 30 FR 13003, October 13, 1965, https://www.epa.gov/ocr/external-civilrights-compliance-office-title-vi; (xxix) Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq., https:// E:\FR\FM\05APN1.SGM 05APN1 13660 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 66 / Friday, April 5, 2019 / Notices www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/titlevi-and-environmental-justice; and (xxx) Participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises in Procurement under the Environmental Protection Agency statFinancial Assistance Agreements, 73 FR 15904, March 26, 2008, https://www.epa.gov/resourcessmall-businesses. Detailed information about some of these requirements is outlined in the WIFIA program handbook. Further information can be found at the links above. IV. Types of Credit Assistance Under WIFIA, the EPA is permitted to provide credit assistance in the form of secured (direct) loans or loan guarantees. The maximum amount of WIFIA credit assistance to a project is 49 percent of eligible project costs. Each prospective borrower should list the estimated total capital costs of the project, broken down by activity type and differentiating between eligible project costs and ineligible project costs in the LOI and application. V. Letters of Interest and Applications Each prospective borrower will be required to submit a LOI and, if invited, an application to the EPA in order to be considered for approval. This section describes the LOI submission and application submission. khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES A. Letter of Interest (LOI) Prospective borrowers seeking a WIFIA loan must submit a LOI describing the project fundamentals and addressing the WIFIA selection criteria. The primary purpose of the LOI is to provide adequate information to the EPA to: (i) Validate the eligibility of the prospective borrower and the prospective project, (ii) perform a preliminary creditworthiness assessment, (iii) perform a preliminary engineering feasibility assessment, and (iv) evaluate the project against the selection criteria. Based on its review of the information provided in the LOI, the EPA will invite prospective borrowers to submit applications for their projects. Prospective borrowers are encouraged to review the WIFIA program handbook to help create the best justification possible for the project and a cohesive and comprehensive LOI submittal. Prospective borrowers are encouraged to utilize the LOI form on the WIFIA website and ensure that sufficient detail about the project is provided for the EPA’s review. The EPA will notify a prospective borrower if its project is deemed ineligible as described in Section III of this NOFA. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:46 Apr 04, 2019 Jkt 247001 Below is guidance on what should be included in the LOI. A. Prospective Borrower Information. In this section, the prospective borrower describes the entity seeking WIFIA assistance, including its legal name, address, website, Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number, and employer/taxpayer identification number. In the case of a project that is undertaken by an entity that is not a state or local government or an agency or instrumentality of a state or local government, or a tribal government or consortium of tribal governments, the project that the entity is undertaking must be publicly sponsored. Public sponsorship means that the prospective borrower can demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the EPA, that it has consulted with the affected state, local, or tribal government in which the project is located, or is otherwise affected by the project, and that such government supports the proposed project. A prospective borrower can show support by including a certified letter signed by the approving state, tribal, or municipal department or similar agency; governor, mayor or other similar designated authority; statute or local ordinance, or any other means by which government approval can be evidenced. B. Project Plan. In this section, the prospective borrower provides a general description of the project, including its location, population served, permit number(s), purpose, design features, and development schedule. The prospective borrower describes how the project can be categorized as one of the project types eligible for WIFIA assistance as described in the program handbook. The prospective borrower includes other relevant information that could affect the development of the project, such as community support, pending legislation, or litigation. In this section, the prospective borrower summarizes the status of the project’s environmental review, engineering report, operations and maintenance agreements, and other approvals or analyses that are integral to the project’s development. C. Financing Plan. In this section, the prospective borrower indicates the requested type and amount of WIFIA credit assistance. In addition, the prospective borrower details the proposed sources and uses of funds for the project. The discussion of proposed financing should identify the source(s) of revenue or other security that would be pledged to the WIFIA assistance. As part of the description of its financial condition, the prospective borrower should include its year-end audited PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 financial statements for the past three years, as available. Additionally, the prospective borrower describes the credit characteristics of the project and how the senior obligations of the project will achieve an investment-grade rating, as well as the anticipated rating on the WIFIA instrument. The prospective borrower should also include a summary financial pro forma, presented in a formula-based Microsoft Excel document, as well as revenue and expense projections for at least ten years. D. Selection Criteria. In this section, the prospective borrower describes the potential policy benefits achieved using WIFIA assistance with respect to each of the WIFIA program selection criteria. These criteria and their weights are enumerated in Section VII of this NOFA and further explained in the WIFIA program handbook. E. Contact Information. In this section, the prospective borrower identifies the point of contact with whom the WIFIA program should communicate regarding the LOI. To complete the EPA’s evaluation, the WIFIA program staff may contact a prospective borrower regarding specific information in the LOI. F. Certifications. In this section, the prospective borrower certifies that it will abide by all applicable laws and regulations, including NEPA, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, the American Iron and Steel requirements, and federal labor standards, among others, if selected to receive funding. G. SRF Notification. In this section, the prospective borrower acknowledges that the EPA will notify the state infrastructure financing authority in the state in which the project is located that it submitted a LOI and provide the submitted LOI and source documents to that authority. The prospective borrower may opt out of having its LOI and source documents shared. B. Application After the EPA concludes its evaluation of the LOIs, a selection committee will invite prospective borrowers to apply based on the scoring of the selection criteria, while taking into consideration geographic and project diversity. The selection committee may choose to combine multiple LOIs or separate projects from a prospective borrower based on the creditworthiness review and may offer less WIFIA assistance than requested in the LOI. An invitation to apply for WIFIA credit assistance does not guarantee the EPA’s approval, which remains subject to a project’s continued eligibility, E:\FR\FM\05APN1.SGM 05APN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 66 / Friday, April 5, 2019 / Notices including creditworthiness, the successful negotiation of terms acceptable to the EPA, and the availability of funds at the time at which all necessary recommendations and evaluations have been completed. However, the purpose of the EPA’s LOI review is to pre-screen prospective borrowers to the extent practicable. It is expected that the EPA will only invite projects to apply if it anticipates that those projects are able to obtain WIFIA credit assistance. Detailed information needs for the application are listed in the application form and described in the WIFIA program handbook. khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES VI. Fees There is no fee to submit a LOI. The final fee rule, Fees for Water Infrastructure Project Applications under WIFIA, 40 CFR 35.10080, was signed by the EPA on June 19, 2017, and establishes the fees related to the provision of federal credit assistance under WIFIA. Each invited applicant must submit, concurrent with its application, a non-refundable Application Fee of $25,000 for projects serving communities of not more than 25,000 individuals or $100,000 for all other projects. Applications will not be evaluated until the Application Fee is paid. For successful applicants, this fee will be credited toward final payment of a Credit Processing Fee, assessed following financial close, to reimburse the EPA for actual engineering, financial, and legal costs. In the event a final credit agreement is not executed, the borrower is still required to reimburse the EPA for the costs incurred. Borrowers may finance these fees with WIFIA credit assistance. VII. Selection Criteria This section specifies the criteria and process that the EPA will use to evaluate LOIs and award applications for WIFIA assistance. The selection criteria described below incorporate statutory eligibility requirements, supplemented by the WIFIA regulations at 40 CFR 35.10055. The EPA has also identified the following strategic objectives as priorities for this LOI submittal period: (i) Readiness to proceed: In order to ensure the efficient use of limited federal resources for infrastructure finance, a project’s readiness to proceed toward development, including loan closing and the commencement of construction, is an Agency priority. (ii) Provide for clean and safe drinking water: The EPA is working to strengthen its implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act to ensure we protect and build upon the enormous VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:46 Apr 04, 2019 Jkt 247001 public health benefits achieved through the provision of safe drinking water throughout the country. One of the Agency’s highest priorities include reducing exposure to lead and addressing emerging contaminants, including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), in the nation’s drinking water systems. (iii) Repair, rehabilitate, and replace aging infrastructure and conveyance systems: Many communities face formidable challenges in providing adequate and reliable water and wastewater infrastructure services. Existing water and wastewater infrastructure in some of these communities is aging, and investment is not always keeping up with the needs. The EPA estimates the national funding need for capital improvements for such facilities totals approximately $740 billion over the next 20 years. In many cases, meeting these needs will require significant increases in capital investment. (iv) Water reuse and recycling: The EPA is highlighting water reuse and recycling as a new or innovative approach. The EPA recognizes that reuse and recycling of water can play a critical role in helping states, tribes, and communities meet their future drinking water needs with a diversified portfolio of water sources. The practice can alleviate the effects of drought and assure groundwater resource sustainability and a secure water supply. The EPA’s priorities reflect water sector challenges that require innovative tools to assist municipalities in managing and adapting to our most pressing public health and environmental challenges. These priorities are reflected in the scoring methodology of the selection criteria below, described in greater detail in the WIFIA program handbook. The WIFIA selection criteria are divided into three categories that represent critical considerations for selecting projects: Project Impact, Project Readiness, and Borrower Creditworthiness. Each criterion within a category can provide a range of points with the maximum number of points indicated. Each category can provide up to 100 points out of a total of 300 available points, and the categoryspecific and overall scores will help inform the selection committee’s deliberations within the overall WIFIA framework. For the Project Readiness and Borrower Creditworthiness categories, criteria scores are supplemented by points awarded from the preliminary engineering feasibility analysis and preliminary PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 13661 creditworthiness assessment, respectively, described in the WIFIA program handbook. In order to reflect the EPA’s priorities and give greater consideration to a class of projects that reduce exposure to lead and address emerging contaminants, including PFAS, in the nation’s drinking water systems, the EPA has added a criterion (ix) to the Project Impact category of criteria in accordance with 40 CFR 35.10055(b). The criteria are as follows: Project Impact: (i) 15 points: The extent to which the project is nationally or regionally significant, with respect to the generation of economic and public benefits, such as (1) the reduction of flood risk; (2) the improvement of water quality and quantity, including aquifer recharge; (3) the protection of drinking water, including source water protection; and (4) the support of international commerce. 33 U.S.C. 3907(b)(2)(A); 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(1). (ii) 5 points: The extent to which the project (1) protects against extreme weather events, such as floods or hurricanes; or (2) helps maintain or protect the environment: 33 U.S.C. 3907(b)(2)(F); 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(4); 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(5). (iii) 5 points: The extent to which the project serves regions with significant energy exploration, development, or production areas: 33 U.S.C. 3907(b)(2)(G); 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(6). (iv) 10 points: The extent to which a project serves regions with significant water resource challenges, including the need to address: (1) water quality concerns in areas of regional, national, or international significance; (2) water quantity concerns related to groundwater, surface water, or other water sources; (3) significant flood risk; (4) water resource challenges identified in existing regional, state, or multistate agreements; or (5) water resources with exceptional recreational value or ecological importance. 33 U.S.C. 3907(b)(2)(H); 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(7). (v) 10 points: The extent to which the project addresses identified municipal, state, or regional priorities. 33 U.S.C. 3907(b)(2)(I); 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(8). (vi) 25 points: The extent to which the project addresses needs for repair, rehabilitation or replacement of a treatment works, community water system, or aging water distribution or wastewater collection system. 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(12). (vii) 10 points: The extent to which the project serves economically stressed communities, or pockets of economically stressed rate payers within otherwise non-economically E:\FR\FM\05APN1.SGM 05APN1 khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES 13662 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 66 / Friday, April 5, 2019 / Notices stressed communities. 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(13). (viii) 20 points: The extent to which the project reduces exposure to lead in the nation’s drinking water systems or addresses emergent contaminants. 40 CFR 35.10055(b). Project Readiness: (i) 50 points: The readiness of the project to proceed toward development, including a demonstration by the obligor that there is a reasonable expectation that the contracting process for construction of the project can commence by not later than 90 days after the date on which a federal credit instrument is obligated for the project under [WIFIA]. 33 U.S.C. 3907(b)(2)(J); 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(9). (ii) 30 points: Preliminary engineering feasibility analysis score. 33 U.S.C. 3907(a)(2); 33 U.S.C. 3907(a)(6); 40 CFR 35.10015(c); 40 CFR 35.10045(a). (iii) 20 points: The extent to which the project uses new or innovative approaches. 33 U.S.C. 3907(b)(2)(D); 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(3). Borrower Creditworthiness: (i) 10 points: The likelihood that assistance under [WIFIA] would enable the project to proceed at an earlier date than the project would otherwise be able to proceed. 33 U.S.C. 3907(b)(2)(C); 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(2). (ii) 10 points: The extent to which the project financing plan includes public or private financing in addition to assistance under [WIFIA]. 33 U.S.C. 3907(b)(2)(B); 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(10). (iii) 10 points: The extent to which assistance under [WIFIA] reduces the contribution of Federal assistance to the project. 33 U.S.C. 3907(b)(2)(K); 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(11). (iv) 10 points: The amount of budget authority required to fund the Federal credit instrument made available under [WIFIA]. 33 U.S.C. 3907(b)(2)(E). (v) 60 points: Preliminary creditworthiness assessment score. 33 U.S.C. 3907(a)(1); 40 CFR 35.10015(c); 40 CFR 35.10045(a)(1); 40 CFR 35.10045(a)(4); 40 CFR 35.10045(b). In addition to the selection criteria score, the EPA is required by 33 U.S.C. 3902(a) to ‘‘ensure a diversity of project types and geographical locations.’’ Following analysis by the WIFIA program staff, a final score is calculated for each project. Projects will be selected in order of score, subject to the requirement to ensure a diversity of project types and geographical locations. To ensure diversity, the EPA will establish a ceiling for each project type and geographical location. The EPA will select projects in rank order up until the point that the ceiling is reached. Thereafter, the next highest VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:46 Apr 04, 2019 Jkt 247001 project that adds diversity will be selected. The scoring scales and guidance used to evaluate each project against the selection criteria are available in the WIFIA program handbook. Prospective borrowers considering WIFIA should review the WIFIA program handbook and discuss how the project addresses each of the selection criteria in the LOI submission. Authority: 33 U.S.C. 3901–3914; 40 CFR part 35. Dated: March 29, 2019. Andrew R. Wheeler, Administrator. [FR Doc. 2019–06731 Filed 4–4–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [ER–FRL–9044–2] Environmental Impact Statements; Notice of Availability Responsible Agency: Office of Federal Activities, General Information 202– 564–5632 or https://www.epa.gov/ nepa/. Weekly receipt of Environmental Impact Statements Filed 03/25/2019 Through 03/29/2019 Pursuant to 40 CFR 1506.9. Notice Section 309(a) of the Clean Air Act requires that EPA make public its comments on EISs issued by other Federal agencies. EPA’s comment letters on EISs are available at: https:// cdxnodengn.epa.gov/cdx-enepa-public/ action/eis/search. EIS No. 20190042, Draft, USFS, WY, Invasive Plant Management Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Comment Period Ends: 05/20/2019, Contact: Chad Hayward 307–276– 5817. EIS No. 20190043, Draft, FHWA, AZ, Draft Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement and Preliminary Section 4(f) Evaluation for Interstate 11 Corridor between Nogales and Wickenburg, Arizona, Comment Period Ends: 05/31/2019, Contact: Rebecca Yedlin 602–382–8979. EIS No. 20190045, Draft, USFWS, MT, National Bison Range Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan, Environmental Impact Statement, and Compatibility Determinations, Comment Period Ends: 05/20/2019, Contact: Vanessa Fields 406–644– 2211. PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 EIS No. 20190046, Draft Supplement, FHWA, AL, Project No. DPI– 0030(005) I–10 Mobile River Bridge and Bayway, Mobile and Baldwin Counties, Alabama, Comment Period Ends: 05/20/2019, Contact: Mr. Mark D. Bartlett, P.E. 334–274–6350. EIS No. 20190047, Draft Supplement, NRC, FL, Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants, Supplement 5, Second Renewal, Regarding Subsequent License Renewal for Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Unit Nos. 3 and 4, Comment Period Ends: 05/20/2019, Contact: David Drucker 301–415–6223. EIS No. 20190048, Draft, HUD, NY, East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR), Comment Period Ends: 08/15/2019, Contact: Eram Qadri 212–788–6282. EIS No. 20190049, Draft Supplement, USFS, AZ, Tonto National Forest Motorized Travel Management, Comment Period Ends: 05/21/2019, Contact: Gregory Schuster 602–225– 5200. EIS No. 20190051, Draft, FERC, OR, The Jordan Cove Energy Project, Comment Period Ends: 05/20/2019, Contact: Office of External Affairs 866–208– 3372. Amended Notice EIS No. 20180284, Draft Supplement, USFS, MT, Stonewall Vegetation Project, Comment Period Ends: 04/12/ 2019, Contact: Allen Byrd 406–495– 3903. Revision to FR Notice Published 03/01/2019; Extending the Comment Period from 03/25/2019 to 04/12/ 2019. EIS No. 20180335, Draft Supplement, USN, GU, Mariana Islands Training and Testing Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement/ Overseas Environmental Impact Statement, Comment Period Ends: 04/ 17/2019, Contact: Nora Macariola-See 808–472–1402, Revision to FR Notice Published 02/01/2019; Extending the Comment Period from 03/18/2019 to 04/17/2019. Dated: April 2, 2019. Robert Tomiak, Director, Office of Federal Activities. [FR Doc. 2019–06688 Filed 4–4–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [FRL–9991–52–OMS] Good Neighbor Environmental Board Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). AGENCY: E:\FR\FM\05APN1.SGM 05APN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 66 (Friday, April 5, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 13657-13662]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-06731]


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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

[FRL-9991-81-OW]


Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for Applications for Credit 
Assistance Under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act 
(WIFIA) Program

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice of funding availability.

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SUMMARY: In the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019, signed by the 
President on February 15, 2019, Congress provided $60 million in budget 
authority for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 
2014 (WIFIA) program to cover the subsidy required to provide a much 
larger amount of credit assistance. The Environmental Protection Agency 
(EPA or the Agency) estimates that this budget authority may provide 
approximately $6 billion in credit assistance and may finance 
approximately $12 billion in water infrastructure investment, while 
covering increased costs associated with implementing a larger program. 
The purpose of this notice of funding availability (NOFA) is to solicit 
letters of interest (LOIs) from prospective borrowers seeking credit 
assistance from the EPA.
    The EPA will evaluate and select proposed projects described in the 
LOIs using the selection criteria established in statute and 
regulation, and further described in this NOFA as well as the WIFIA 
program handbook. This NOFA establishes relative weights that will be 
used in the current LOI submittal period for the selection criteria and 
outlines the process that prospective borrowers should follow to be 
considered for WIFIA credit assistance.
    In addition, the EPA reserves the right to make additional awards 
under this announcement, consistent with Agency policy and guidance, if 
additional funding is available after the original selections are made.

DATES: The LOI submittal period will begin on April 5, 2019 and end at 
11:59 p.m. EDT on July 5, 2019.

ADDRESSES: Prospective borrowers should submit all LOIs electronically 
via email at: [email protected] or via EPA's SharePoint site. To be granted 
access to the SharePoint site, prospective borrowers should contact 
[email protected] and request a link to the SharePoint site, where they can 
securely upload their LOIs. Requests to upload documents should be made 
no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT on July 1, 2019.
    The EPA will notify prospective borrowers that their LOI has been 
received via a confirmation email.
    Prospective borrowers can access additional information, including 
the WIFIA program handbook and application materials, on the WIFIA 
website: https://www.epa.gov/wifia/.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: For a project to be considered during a 
selection round, the EPA must receive a LOI, via email or SharePoint, 
before the corresponding deadline listed above. The EPA is only able to 
accept emails of 25 MB or smaller with unzipped attachments (the EPA 
cannot accept zipped files). If necessary due to size restrictions, 
prospective borrowers may submit attachments separately, as long as 
they are received by the deadline.
    When writing a LOI, prospective borrowers are encouraged to fill 
out the WIFIA LOI form and follow the guidelines contained on the WIFIA 
program website: https://www.epa.gov/wifia/how-apply-wifia-assistance-0#materials. Prospective borrowers should provide the LOI and any 
attachments as Microsoft Word documents or searchable PDF files,

[[Page 13658]]

whenever possible, to facilitate the EPA's review. Additionally, 
prospective borrowers should ensure that financial information, 
including the pro forma financial statement, is in a formula-based 
Microsoft Excel document. Section V of this NOFA provides additional 
details on the LOI's content.
    The EPA will invite each prospective borrower whose project 
proposal is selected for continuation in the process to submit a final 
application. Final applications should be received by the EPA within 
365 days of the invitation to apply.
    The EPA will host a series of in-person sessions and webinars to 
provide further information about submitting a LOI. The in-person 
sessions and webinar schedule and registration directions can be found 
on the WIFIA program website: www.epa.gov/wifia.
    Prospective borrowers with questions about the program or interest 
in meeting with the WIFIA program staff may send a request to 
[email protected]. The EPA will meet with all prospective borrowers 
interested in discussing the program, but only prior to submission of a 
LOI.

Table of Contents

I. Background
II. Program Funding
III. Eligibility Requirements
IV. Types of Credit Assistance
V. Letters of Interest and Applications
VI. Fees
VII. Selection Criteria

I. Background

    Congress enacted WIFIA as part of the Water Resources Reform and 
Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA). Codified at 33 U.S.C. 3901-3914, WIFIA 
authorizes a federal credit program for water infrastructure projects 
to be administered by the EPA. WIFIA authorizes the EPA to provide 
federal credit assistance in the form of secured (direct) loans or loan 
guarantees for eligible water infrastructure projects.
    The WIFIA program's mission is to accelerate investment in our 
nation's water and wastewater infrastructure by providing long-term, 
low-cost, supplemental credit assistance under customized terms to 
creditworthy drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects of 
national and regional significance.

II. Program Funding

    Congress appropriated $60 million in funding to cover the subsidy 
cost of providing WIFIA credit assistance. The subsidy cost covers the 
Federal government's risk that the loan may not be paid back. The EPA 
anticipates that the average subsidy cost for WIFIA-funded projects 
will be relatively low; therefore, this funding can be leveraged into a 
much larger amount of credit assistance. The EPA estimates that this 
appropriation will allow the Agency to provide approximately $6 billion 
\1\ in long-term, low-cost financing to water and wastewater projects 
and accelerate approximately $12 billion in infrastructure investment 
around the country.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ This estimated loan volume is provided for reference only. 
Consistent with the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990 and the 
requirements of the Office of Management and Budget, the actual 
subsidy cost of providing credit assistance is based on individual 
project characteristics and calculated on a project-by-project 
basis. Thus, actual lending capacity may vary.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Recognizing the need that exists in both small and large 
communities to invest in infrastructure, Congress stipulated in statute 
that the EPA set aside 15 percent of the budget authority appropriated 
each year for small communities, defined as systems that serve a 
population of less than 25,000. Of the funds set aside, any amount not 
obligated by June 1 of the fiscal year for which budget authority is 
set aside may be used for any size community. Regardless of whether the 
EPA obligates these funds by June 1 of the fiscal year for which budget 
authority is set aside, the EPA will endeavor to use 15 percent of its 
budget authority for small communities.
    In addition to assisting both large and small projects and 
communities, WIFIA may be an attractive borrowing mechanism for a 
variety of different borrower and credit types. The EPA anticipates 
that municipalities, private entities, project financings, State 
Revolving Fund programs, and tribes will benefit from the low cost and 
debt structuring flexibilities that the WIFIA loans can offer.

III. Eligibility Requirements

    The WIFIA statute and implementing rules set forth eligibility 
requirements for prospective borrowers, projects, and project costs. 
The requirements outlined below are described in greater detail in the 
WIFIA program handbook.

A. Eligible Applicants

    Prospective borrowers must be one of the following in order to be 
eligible for WIFIA credit assistance:
    (i) A corporation;
    (ii) A partnership;
    (iii) A joint venture;
    (iv) A trust;
    (v) A federal, state, or local governmental entity, agency, or 
instrumentality;
    (vi) A tribal government or a consortium of tribal governments; or
    (vii) A state infrastructure financing authority.

B. Eligible Projects

    The WIFIA statute authorizes the EPA to provide credit assistance 
for a wide variety of projects. Projects must be one of the following 
in order to be eligible for WIFIA credit assistance:
    (i) One or more activities that are eligible for assistance under 
section 603(c) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 
1383(c)), notwithstanding the public ownership requirement under 
paragraph (1) of that subsection;
    (ii) One or more activities described in section 1452(a)(2) of the 
Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300j-12(a)(2));
    (iii) A project for enhanced energy efficiency in the operation of 
a public water system or a publicly owned treatment works;
    (iv) A project for repair, rehabilitation, or replacement of a 
treatment works, community water system, or aging water distribution or 
waste collection facility (including a facility that serves a 
population or community of an Indian reservation);
    (v) A brackish or sea water desalination project, including 
chloride control, a managed aquifer recharge project, a water recycling 
project, or a project to provide alternative water supplies to reduce 
aquifer depletion;
    (vi) A project to prevent, reduce, or mitigate the effects of 
drought, including projects that enhance the resilience of drought-
stricken watersheds;
    (vii) Acquisition of real property or an interest in real 
property--
    (a) If the acquisition is integral to a project described in 
paragraphs (i) through (v); or
    (b) Pursuant to an existing plan that, in the judgment of the 
Administrator, would mitigate the environmental impacts of water 
resources infrastructure projects otherwise eligible for assistance 
under this section;
    (viii) A combination of projects, each of which is eligible under 
paragraph (i) or (ii), for which a state infrastructure financing 
authority submits to the Administrator a single application; or
    (ix) A combination of projects secured by a common security pledge, 
each of which is eligible under paragraph (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), 
(vi), or (vii), for which an eligible entity, or a combination of 
eligible entities, submits a single application.

C. Eligible Costs

    As defined under 33 U.S.C. 3906 and described in the WIFIA program

[[Page 13659]]

handbook, eligible project costs are costs associated with the 
following activities:
    (i) Development-phase activities, including planning, feasibility 
analysis (including any related analysis necessary to carry out an 
eligible project), revenue forecasting, environmental review, 
permitting, preliminary engineering and design work, and other 
preconstruction activities;
    (ii) Construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, and replacement 
activities;
    (iii) The acquisition of real property or an interest in real 
property (including water rights, land relating to the project, and 
improvements to land), environmental mitigation (including acquisitions 
pursuant to 33 U.S.C. 3905(8)), construction contingencies, and 
acquisition of equipment; and
    (iv) Capitalized interest necessary to meet market requirements, 
reasonably required reserve funds, capital issuance expenses, and other 
carrying costs during construction. Capitalized interest on WIFIA 
credit assistance may not be included as an eligible project cost.

D. Threshold Requirements

    For a project to be considered for WIFIA credit assistance, a 
project must meet the following five criteria:
    (i) The project and obligor shall be creditworthy;
    (ii) A project shall have eligible project costs that are 
reasonably anticipated to equal or exceed $20 million, or for a project 
eligible under paragraphs (2) or (3) of 33 U.S.C. 3905 serving a 
community of not more than 25,000 individuals, project costs that are 
reasonably anticipated to equal or exceed $5 million;
    (iii) Project financing shall be repayable, in whole or in part, 
from state or local taxes, user fees, or other dedicated revenue 
sources that also secure the senior project obligations of the project; 
shall include a rate covenant, coverage requirement, or similar 
security feature supporting the project obligations; and may have a 
lien on revenues subject to any lien securing project obligations;
    (iv) In the case of a project that is undertaken by an entity that 
is not a state or local government or an agency or instrumentality of a 
State or local government, or a tribal government or consortium of 
tribal governments, the project that the entity is undertaking shall be 
publicly sponsored; and
    (v) The applicant shall have developed an operations and 
maintenance plan that identifies adequate revenues to operate, 
maintain, and repair the project during its useful life.
    E. Federal Requirements
    All projects receiving WIFIA assistance must comply, if applicable, 
with federal requirements and regulations, including (but not limited 
to):
    (i) American Iron and Steel Requirement, 33 U.S.C. 3914, https://www.epa.gov/cwsrf/state-revolving-fund-american-iron-and-steel-ais-requirement;
    (ii) Labor Standards, 33 U.S.C. 1372, https://www.dol.gov/whd/govcontracts/dbra.htm;
    (iii) National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
seq., https://www.epa.gov/nepa;
    (iv) Floodplain Management, Executive Order 11988, 42 FR 26951, May 
24, 1977, https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/codification/executive-order/11988.html;
    (v) Archeological and Historic Preservation Act, 16 U.S.C. 469-
469c, https://www.nps.gov/archeology/tools/laws/ahpa.htm;
    (vi) Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq., https://www.epa.gov/clean-air-act-overview;
    (vii) Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq., https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/about-office-water;
    (viii) Coastal Barrier Resources Act, 16 U.S.C. 3501 et seq., 
https://www.fws.gov/ecological-services/habitat-conservation/cbra/Act/index.html;
    (ix) Coastal Zone Management Act, 16 U.S.C. 1451 et seq., https://coast.noaa.gov/czm/about/;
    (x) Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq., https://www.fws.gov/endangered/;
    (xi) Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority 
Populations and Low-Income Populations, Executive Order 12898, 59 FR 
7629, February 16, 1994, https://www.archives.gov/files/federal-register/executive-orders/pdf/12898.pdf;
    (xii) Protection of Wetlands, Executive Order 11990, 42 FR 26961, 
May 25, 1977, as amended by Executive Order 12608, 52 FR 34617, 
September 14, 1987, https://www.epa.gov/cwa-404;
    (xiii) Farmland Protection Policy Act, 7 U.S.C. 4201 et seq., 
https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/?cid=nrcs143_008275;
    (xiv) Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, 16 U.S.C. 661-666c, as 
amended, https://www.fws.gov/;
    (xv) Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, 16 
U.S.C. 1801 et seq., https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/resource/document/magnuson-stevens-fishery-conservation-and-management-act;
    (xvi) National Historic Preservation Act, 16 U.S.C. 470 et seq., 
https://www.nps.gov/archeology/tools/laws/NHPA.htm;
    (xvii) Safe Drinking Water Act, 42 U.S.C. 300f et seq., https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water;
    (xviii) Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, 16 U.S.C. 1271 et seq., https://rivers.gov/;
    (xix) Debarment and Suspension, Executive Order 12549, 51 FR 6370, 
February 18, 1986, https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/codification/executive-order/12549.html;
    (xx) Demonstration Cities and Metropolitan Development Act, 42 
U.S.C. 3301 et seq., as amended, and Executive Order 12372, 47 FR 
30959, July 14, 1982, http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/comm_planning;
    (xxii) New Restrictions on Lobbying, 31 U.S.C. 1352, https://www.epa.gov/grants/lobbying-and-litigation-information-federal-grants-cooperative-agreements-contracts-and-loans;
    (xxiii) Prohibitions relating to violations of the Clean Water Act 
or Clean Air Act with respect to Federal contracts, grants, or loans 
under 42 U.S.C. 7606 and 33 U.S.C. 1368, and Executive Order 11738, 38 
FR 25161, September 12, 1973, https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/codification/executive-order/11738.html;
    (xxiv) The Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property 
Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, 42 U.S.C. 4601 et seq., https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2005-01-04/pdf/05-6.pdf;
    (xxv) Age Discrimination Act, 42 U.S.C. 6101 et seq., https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/adea.cfm;
    (xxvi) Equal Employment Opportunity, Executive Order 11246, 30 FR 
12319, September 28, 1965, https://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/ca_11246.htm;
    (xxvii) Section 13 of the Clean Water Act, Public Law 92-500, 
codified in 42 U.S.C. 1251, https://www.epa.gov/ocr/external-civil-rights-compliance-office-title-vi;
    (xxviii) Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 794, 
supplemented by Executive Orders 11914, 41 FR 17871, April 29, 1976 and 
11250, 30 FR 13003, October 13, 1965, https://www.epa.gov/ocr/external-civil-rights-compliance-office-title-vi;
    (xxix) Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d et 
seq., https://

[[Page 13660]]

www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/title-vi-and-environmental-justice; 
and
    (xxx) Participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises in 
Procurement under the Environmental Protection Agency statFinancial 
Assistance Agreements, 73 FR 15904, March 26, 2008, https://www.epa.gov/resources-small-businesses.
    Detailed information about some of these requirements is outlined 
in the WIFIA program handbook. Further information can be found at the 
links above.

IV. Types of Credit Assistance

    Under WIFIA, the EPA is permitted to provide credit assistance in 
the form of secured (direct) loans or loan guarantees. The maximum 
amount of WIFIA credit assistance to a project is 49 percent of 
eligible project costs. Each prospective borrower should list the 
estimated total capital costs of the project, broken down by activity 
type and differentiating between eligible project costs and ineligible 
project costs in the LOI and application.

V. Letters of Interest and Applications

    Each prospective borrower will be required to submit a LOI and, if 
invited, an application to the EPA in order to be considered for 
approval. This section describes the LOI submission and application 
submission.

A. Letter of Interest (LOI)

    Prospective borrowers seeking a WIFIA loan must submit a LOI 
describing the project fundamentals and addressing the WIFIA selection 
criteria.
    The primary purpose of the LOI is to provide adequate information 
to the EPA to: (i) Validate the eligibility of the prospective borrower 
and the prospective project, (ii) perform a preliminary 
creditworthiness assessment, (iii) perform a preliminary engineering 
feasibility assessment, and (iv) evaluate the project against the 
selection criteria. Based on its review of the information provided in 
the LOI, the EPA will invite prospective borrowers to submit 
applications for their projects. Prospective borrowers are encouraged 
to review the WIFIA program handbook to help create the best 
justification possible for the project and a cohesive and comprehensive 
LOI submittal.
    Prospective borrowers are encouraged to utilize the LOI form on the 
WIFIA website and ensure that sufficient detail about the project is 
provided for the EPA's review. The EPA will notify a prospective 
borrower if its project is deemed ineligible as described in Section 
III of this NOFA.
    Below is guidance on what should be included in the LOI.
    A. Prospective Borrower Information. In this section, the 
prospective borrower describes the entity seeking WIFIA assistance, 
including its legal name, address, website, Dun and Bradstreet Data 
Universal Number System (DUNS) number, and employer/taxpayer 
identification number.
    In the case of a project that is undertaken by an entity that is 
not a state or local government or an agency or instrumentality of a 
state or local government, or a tribal government or consortium of 
tribal governments, the project that the entity is undertaking must be 
publicly sponsored. Public sponsorship means that the prospective 
borrower can demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the EPA, that it has 
consulted with the affected state, local, or tribal government in which 
the project is located, or is otherwise affected by the project, and 
that such government supports the proposed project. A prospective 
borrower can show support by including a certified letter signed by the 
approving state, tribal, or municipal department or similar agency; 
governor, mayor or other similar designated authority; statute or local 
ordinance, or any other means by which government approval can be 
evidenced.
    B. Project Plan. In this section, the prospective borrower provides 
a general description of the project, including its location, 
population served, permit number(s), purpose, design features, and 
development schedule. The prospective borrower describes how the 
project can be categorized as one of the project types eligible for 
WIFIA assistance as described in the program handbook. The prospective 
borrower includes other relevant information that could affect the 
development of the project, such as community support, pending 
legislation, or litigation. In this section, the prospective borrower 
summarizes the status of the project's environmental review, 
engineering report, operations and maintenance agreements, and other 
approvals or analyses that are integral to the project's development.
    C. Financing Plan. In this section, the prospective borrower 
indicates the requested type and amount of WIFIA credit assistance. In 
addition, the prospective borrower details the proposed sources and 
uses of funds for the project. The discussion of proposed financing 
should identify the source(s) of revenue or other security that would 
be pledged to the WIFIA assistance. As part of the description of its 
financial condition, the prospective borrower should include its year-
end audited financial statements for the past three years, as 
available. Additionally, the prospective borrower describes the credit 
characteristics of the project and how the senior obligations of the 
project will achieve an investment-grade rating, as well as the 
anticipated rating on the WIFIA instrument. The prospective borrower 
should also include a summary financial pro forma, presented in a 
formula-based Microsoft Excel document, as well as revenue and expense 
projections for at least ten years.
    D. Selection Criteria. In this section, the prospective borrower 
describes the potential policy benefits achieved using WIFIA assistance 
with respect to each of the WIFIA program selection criteria. These 
criteria and their weights are enumerated in Section VII of this NOFA 
and further explained in the WIFIA program handbook.
    E. Contact Information. In this section, the prospective borrower 
identifies the point of contact with whom the WIFIA program should 
communicate regarding the LOI. To complete the EPA's evaluation, the 
WIFIA program staff may contact a prospective borrower regarding 
specific information in the LOI.
    F. Certifications. In this section, the prospective borrower 
certifies that it will abide by all applicable laws and regulations, 
including NEPA, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, the American 
Iron and Steel requirements, and federal labor standards, among others, 
if selected to receive funding.
    G. SRF Notification. In this section, the prospective borrower 
acknowledges that the EPA will notify the state infrastructure 
financing authority in the state in which the project is located that 
it submitted a LOI and provide the submitted LOI and source documents 
to that authority. The prospective borrower may opt out of having its 
LOI and source documents shared.

B. Application

    After the EPA concludes its evaluation of the LOIs, a selection 
committee will invite prospective borrowers to apply based on the 
scoring of the selection criteria, while taking into consideration 
geographic and project diversity. The selection committee may choose to 
combine multiple LOIs or separate projects from a prospective borrower 
based on the creditworthiness review and may offer less WIFIA 
assistance than requested in the LOI.
    An invitation to apply for WIFIA credit assistance does not 
guarantee the EPA's approval, which remains subject to a project's 
continued eligibility,

[[Page 13661]]

including creditworthiness, the successful negotiation of terms 
acceptable to the EPA, and the availability of funds at the time at 
which all necessary recommendations and evaluations have been 
completed. However, the purpose of the EPA's LOI review is to pre-
screen prospective borrowers to the extent practicable. It is expected 
that the EPA will only invite projects to apply if it anticipates that 
those projects are able to obtain WIFIA credit assistance. Detailed 
information needs for the application are listed in the application 
form and described in the WIFIA program handbook.

VI. Fees

    There is no fee to submit a LOI. The final fee rule, Fees for Water 
Infrastructure Project Applications under WIFIA, 40 CFR 35.10080, was 
signed by the EPA on June 19, 2017, and establishes the fees related to 
the provision of federal credit assistance under WIFIA. Each invited 
applicant must submit, concurrent with its application, a non-
refundable Application Fee of $25,000 for projects serving communities 
of not more than 25,000 individuals or $100,000 for all other projects. 
Applications will not be evaluated until the Application Fee is paid. 
For successful applicants, this fee will be credited toward final 
payment of a Credit Processing Fee, assessed following financial close, 
to reimburse the EPA for actual engineering, financial, and legal 
costs. In the event a final credit agreement is not executed, the 
borrower is still required to reimburse the EPA for the costs incurred. 
Borrowers may finance these fees with WIFIA credit assistance.

VII. Selection Criteria

    This section specifies the criteria and process that the EPA will 
use to evaluate LOIs and award applications for WIFIA assistance.
    The selection criteria described below incorporate statutory 
eligibility requirements, supplemented by the WIFIA regulations at 40 
CFR 35.10055. The EPA has also identified the following strategic 
objectives as priorities for this LOI submittal period:
    (i) Readiness to proceed: In order to ensure the efficient use of 
limited federal resources for infrastructure finance, a project's 
readiness to proceed toward development, including loan closing and the 
commencement of construction, is an Agency priority.
    (ii) Provide for clean and safe drinking water: The EPA is working 
to strengthen its implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act to 
ensure we protect and build upon the enormous public health benefits 
achieved through the provision of safe drinking water throughout the 
country. One of the Agency's highest priorities include reducing 
exposure to lead and addressing emerging contaminants, including per- 
and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), in the nation's drinking water 
systems.
    (iii) Repair, rehabilitate, and replace aging infrastructure and 
conveyance systems: Many communities face formidable challenges in 
providing adequate and reliable water and wastewater infrastructure 
services. Existing water and wastewater infrastructure in some of these 
communities is aging, and investment is not always keeping up with the 
needs. The EPA estimates the national funding need for capital 
improvements for such facilities totals approximately $740 billion over 
the next 20 years. In many cases, meeting these needs will require 
significant increases in capital investment.
    (iv) Water reuse and recycling: The EPA is highlighting water reuse 
and recycling as a new or innovative approach. The EPA recognizes that 
reuse and recycling of water can play a critical role in helping 
states, tribes, and communities meet their future drinking water needs 
with a diversified portfolio of water sources. The practice can 
alleviate the effects of drought and assure groundwater resource 
sustainability and a secure water supply.
    The EPA's priorities reflect water sector challenges that require 
innovative tools to assist municipalities in managing and adapting to 
our most pressing public health and environmental challenges. These 
priorities are reflected in the scoring methodology of the selection 
criteria below, described in greater detail in the WIFIA program 
handbook.
    The WIFIA selection criteria are divided into three categories that 
represent critical considerations for selecting projects: Project 
Impact, Project Readiness, and Borrower Creditworthiness. Each 
criterion within a category can provide a range of points with the 
maximum number of points indicated. Each category can provide up to 100 
points out of a total of 300 available points, and the category-
specific and overall scores will help inform the selection committee's 
deliberations within the overall WIFIA framework. For the Project 
Readiness and Borrower Creditworthiness categories, criteria scores are 
supplemented by points awarded from the preliminary engineering 
feasibility analysis and preliminary creditworthiness assessment, 
respectively, described in the WIFIA program handbook. In order to 
reflect the EPA's priorities and give greater consideration to a class 
of projects that reduce exposure to lead and address emerging 
contaminants, including PFAS, in the nation's drinking water systems, 
the EPA has added a criterion (ix) to the Project Impact category of 
criteria in accordance with 40 CFR 35.10055(b). The criteria are as 
follows:
    Project Impact:
    (i) 15 points: The extent to which the project is nationally or 
regionally significant, with respect to the generation of economic and 
public benefits, such as (1) the reduction of flood risk; (2) the 
improvement of water quality and quantity, including aquifer recharge; 
(3) the protection of drinking water, including source water 
protection; and (4) the support of international commerce. 33 U.S.C. 
3907(b)(2)(A); 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(1).
    (ii) 5 points: The extent to which the project (1) protects against 
extreme weather events, such as floods or hurricanes; or (2) helps 
maintain or protect the environment: 33 U.S.C. 3907(b)(2)(F); 40 CFR 
35.10055(a)(4); 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(5).
    (iii) 5 points: The extent to which the project serves regions with 
significant energy exploration, development, or production areas: 33 
U.S.C. 3907(b)(2)(G); 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(6).
    (iv) 10 points: The extent to which a project serves regions with 
significant water resource challenges, including the need to address: 
(1) water quality concerns in areas of regional, national, or 
international significance; (2) water quantity concerns related to 
groundwater, surface water, or other water sources; (3) significant 
flood risk; (4) water resource challenges identified in existing 
regional, state, or multistate agreements; or (5) water resources with 
exceptional recreational value or ecological importance. 33 U.S.C. 
3907(b)(2)(H); 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(7).
    (v) 10 points: The extent to which the project addresses identified 
municipal, state, or regional priorities. 33 U.S.C. 3907(b)(2)(I); 40 
CFR 35.10055(a)(8).
    (vi) 25 points: The extent to which the project addresses needs for 
repair, rehabilitation or replacement of a treatment works, community 
water system, or aging water distribution or wastewater collection 
system. 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(12).
    (vii) 10 points: The extent to which the project serves 
economically stressed communities, or pockets of economically stressed 
rate payers within otherwise non-economically

[[Page 13662]]

stressed communities. 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(13).
    (viii) 20 points: The extent to which the project reduces exposure 
to lead in the nation's drinking water systems or addresses emergent 
contaminants. 40 CFR 35.10055(b).
    Project Readiness:
    (i) 50 points: The readiness of the project to proceed toward 
development, including a demonstration by the obligor that there is a 
reasonable expectation that the contracting process for construction of 
the project can commence by not later than 90 days after the date on 
which a federal credit instrument is obligated for the project under 
[WIFIA]. 33 U.S.C. 3907(b)(2)(J); 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(9).
    (ii) 30 points: Preliminary engineering feasibility analysis score. 
33 U.S.C. 3907(a)(2); 33 U.S.C. 3907(a)(6); 40 CFR 35.10015(c); 40 CFR 
35.10045(a).
    (iii) 20 points: The extent to which the project uses new or 
innovative approaches. 33 U.S.C. 3907(b)(2)(D); 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(3).
    Borrower Creditworthiness:
    (i) 10 points: The likelihood that assistance under [WIFIA] would 
enable the project to proceed at an earlier date than the project would 
otherwise be able to proceed. 33 U.S.C. 3907(b)(2)(C); 40 CFR 
35.10055(a)(2).
    (ii) 10 points: The extent to which the project financing plan 
includes public or private financing in addition to assistance under 
[WIFIA]. 33 U.S.C. 3907(b)(2)(B); 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(10).
    (iii) 10 points: The extent to which assistance under [WIFIA] 
reduces the contribution of Federal assistance to the project. 33 
U.S.C. 3907(b)(2)(K); 40 CFR 35.10055(a)(11).
    (iv) 10 points: The amount of budget authority required to fund the 
Federal credit instrument made available under [WIFIA]. 33 U.S.C. 
3907(b)(2)(E).
    (v) 60 points: Preliminary creditworthiness assessment score. 33 
U.S.C. 3907(a)(1); 40 CFR 35.10015(c); 40 CFR 35.10045(a)(1); 40 CFR 
35.10045(a)(4); 40 CFR 35.10045(b).
    In addition to the selection criteria score, the EPA is required by 
33 U.S.C. 3902(a) to ``ensure a diversity of project types and 
geographical locations.''
    Following analysis by the WIFIA program staff, a final score is 
calculated for each project. Projects will be selected in order of 
score, subject to the requirement to ensure a diversity of project 
types and geographical locations. To ensure diversity, the EPA will 
establish a ceiling for each project type and geographical location. 
The EPA will select projects in rank order up until the point that the 
ceiling is reached. Thereafter, the next highest project that adds 
diversity will be selected.
    The scoring scales and guidance used to evaluate each project 
against the selection criteria are available in the WIFIA program 
handbook. Prospective borrowers considering WIFIA should review the 
WIFIA program handbook and discuss how the project addresses each of 
the selection criteria in the LOI submission.

    Authority:  33 U.S.C. 3901-3914; 40 CFR part 35.

    Dated: March 29, 2019.
Andrew R. Wheeler,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2019-06731 Filed 4-4-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 6560-50-P