Copyright 2001 by Intertec Publishing Corporation, a PRIMEDIA Company.
Sunday, July 1, 2001
Volume 104; Number 7; ISSN Number 0010-5368
Senate committee leadership changes
by Cy Malloy
With Senator Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.) moving
away from the GOP, Democrats will now control committee agendas in the
Senate. Minority Whip Harry Reid of Nevada, currently the top Democrat
on the Environment & Public Works Committee, has offered Senator
Jeffords the chairmanship. Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will chair the
Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee, where a battle over
legislation to reauthorize transportation spending will occur.
The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century
at the end of FY'03. Former Representative Bud Shuster (R-Pa.) secured
TEA-21 language prohibiting the use of federal highway trust fund money
for anything other than highway improvement projects. With the
influential Shuster gone, Senator Baucus - a rural yet pro-environment
lawmaker - could find himself in the middle of a battle over how to
split highway and transit funding and other congestion issues.
Senator Barbara Boxer, a liberal Democrat from California, probably
will assume control of the Superfund, Waste Control and Risk Assessment
Subcommittee, replacing Senator Lincoln Chaffee (R-R.I.), a moderate
who, like Jeffords, has drawn the ire of the White House and Senate
Republicans for his voting record. And, Senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.), a
moderate, will likely replace conservative western Senator Michael Crapo
(R-Idaho) as chairman of the Fisheries, Wildlife and Water Subcommittee.
WIN/EPA. The Water Infrastructure Network's (WIN) Legislative
Committee, on which Fmn serves, recently met to review its spring rally
and reception on Capitol Hill. In addition, Congressman John Dingell
(D-Mich.) asked WIN to comment on his two draft bills - The Clean Water
State Revolving Loan Fund Enhancement Act of 2001 and The Water
Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2001 - that would reauthorize the
Clean Water EPA program at $10.8 billion annually over five years in the
form of combined grants and loans. The federal grant share would be
reduced from 75 to 55 percent. Though it will send comments commending
his funding levels, the coalition opposes a return to the old
Environmental Protection Agency grant program, as one of the bills
proposes - and disagrees because both bills exclude funding for drinking
Also, H.R. 1564, "Rebuilding America's Infrastructure Act" introduced
by Congressman Kucinich (D-Ohio) was referred to the House Committee on
Transportation and Infrastructure and additionally to the committees on
Financial Services and the Budget.
Rebuilding America's Infrastructure establishes the Federal Bank for
Infrastructure Modernization, authorizing it to make zero interest loans
to any state or local government, Indian tribe, and regional or
multi-state organization for the development of certain transportation,
educational, water, and hazardous treatment-related capital facility
projects. The proposed funding is $50 billion over 10 years. The
co-sponsors of this bill include Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio); Martin Frost
(D-Texas); Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.); Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio);
Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio); and, Tom Sawyer (D-Ohio).
WIN promotes hearing
Senator Michael Crapo (R-Idaho), chair of the Senate EPW Subcommittee
on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water, conducted a field hearing to receive
testimony on options to address wastewater infrastructure needs in Ohio.
The hearing was held at the Columbus City Council, City Hall, Columbus,
Ohio. Senator Voinovich (R-Ohio) stated:
I have asked the General Accounting Office (GAO) to conduct a study
on the unmet infrastructure needs of our nation. This includes such
items as highways, mass transit, airports, drinking water supply and
wastewater treatment, public buildings, water resources (flood control
and navigation) and hydropower generating facilities.
For each infrastructure area, the GAO will look at how agencies
develop their needs estimates and determine whether they used leading
practices and guidelines. I believe the GAO's final report will give us
a better sense of exactly how reliable the needs estimates are. The U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency's "Clean Water Needs Survey" is a
striking example of how much has to be done to tackle our unmet needs.
Conducted in 1996, this survey estimated that nearly $140 billion would
be needed over the next 20 years to address wastewater infrastructure
problems in our communities. In March 1999, the EPA revised their
figures upwards, whereas infrastructure needs are now estimated at $200
billion. Other independent studies indicate that EPA has undershot the
mark, estimating that these incredible unmet needs exceed $300 billion
over 20 years.
Since arriving in the Senate two years ago, I have used my position
as a member of the Committee on Environment and Public Works to work
towards improving the condition of our nation's water infrastructure. In
February, I introduced legislation reauthorizing the highly successful,
but undercapitalized, Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF)
Program. My bill, the "Clean Water Infrastructure Financing Act" (S.
252) identical to legislation I introduced in the last Congress, would
authorize $3 billion per year over 5 years for a total of $15 billion. I
thank the Water Infrastructure Network for this great effort." Fuel-tax
With the price of gasoline quickly rising and reports of tight
supplies for the busy driving season, legislation has been introduced in
the House to temporarily repeal the 18.3-cent federal motor fuel tax.
The bill would permanently repeal 4.3 cents of the tax. Congressman
James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has reintroduced legislation titled the
Freedom from Unfair Energy Levy (FUEL) Act (H.R. 1575). The bill would
place a six-month moratorium on the federal 18.3-cent tax on gasoline
and the 24.3-cent tax on diesel fuel. The bill would also eliminate 4.3
cents of the federal gas tax permanently.
The congressional Web site, www.thomas.gov, reports:
Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta (note Editorial, page 4),
testifying before the House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee,
warned that runway construction was not a viable "short-term" answer to
the congestion problems plaguing U.S. aviation. However, Mineta noted
that it now takes seven-10 years to construct runways, and he promised
to appoint a national-level project manager to work with the local or
regional project manager from the beginning, in hopes of speeding up
construction. A new report released by the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) outlines the current and future capacity problems
at the 31 largest airports in the U.S.. The FAA report was presented to
Congress, during an oversight hearing by the U.S. House Subcommittee on
"Unfortunately, this Airport Capacity Benchmarks report confirms some
of our worst suspicions and acknowledges what most air travelers have
experienced," said Congressman John Mica (R-Fla.), the chairman of the
Aviation Subcommittee. "Today's report will send chills down the spine
of even our most seasoned air travelers - delays at seven of our
nation's top airports will become even worse over the next 10 years.
Last year was already the worst on record for delays. Over-capacity
problems at even one major airport can spell schedule disasters
nationwide. A weather or labor slowdown can further grind the system to
Mica stated that one component of easing aviation gridlock would be
the enactment of H.R. 1407, which would grant a limited anti-trust
exemption to allow airlines to discuss aspects of their schedules and to
make more efficient use of airport capacity. The Aviation Subcommittee
conducted a hearing on H.R. 1407.
"As you review this new list, what's most striking is that the
airports that plan to build new runways will experience little increase
in delays while those that have no such plans will suffer a dramatic
increase in delays," said Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska), the chairman
of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
In an effort to reduce the time it takes to environmentally review
airport runway projects, Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta and
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Jane Garvey released
a report to Congress identifying measures that will expedite the
environmental process. "A protracted environmental process is one of the
barriers to providing the increased capacity at airports that can reduce
airline and air traveler delays," notes Administrator Garvey. "For
runway projects that meet environmental protection requirements, we want
to avoid unwarranted delays in giving approval."
Washington, D.C.-based Cy Malloy heads Federal Industry Consulting
Associates which, on behalf of construction and building interests,
tracks Capitol Hill and federal agency regulatory, funding, procurement
and specifications issues.