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Ports-to-Plains Alliance

Wednesday
Sep172014

Texas road debt: $23 billion

Click here for complete article > Star-Telegram

September 15, 2014

Texas has racked up $23 billion in road debt and will spend an estimated $31 billion retiring it over two decades, lawmakers said.

That financial burden is a big reason why elected leaders and transportation advocates are pushing for Proposition 1, an amendment to the Texas Constitution that would allow part of Texas’ oil and gas revenue to be spent on road and bridge projects. If Texas voters approve the amendment Nov. 4, roughly $1.7 billion will be available for road work in the first year, transportation officials said.

After that, the amount will vary annually depending on oil and gas production. Typically, $1.2 billion in revenue can be expected annually.

Without passage of Proposition 1, the state will likely have to postpone new road projects, possibly for several years, official said. Texas cannot borrow any more bond money for transportation…

Tuesday
Sep162014

States take different approaches to funding infrastructure needs

Click here for complete article > The Times-Picayune (New Orleans)

September 15, 2014

America has an infrastructure problem. The American Society of Civil Engineers graded the nation's bridges a C-plus, roads a D and transit a D.

Louisiana is not unique as it has a $12 billion backlog of projects and not nearly enough money to tackle all of them.

Louisiana funds its roads with money generated from a gas tax, various vehicle fees and federal funds. It still isn't enough to fix the infrastructure problems as the Department of Transportation and Development has a total budget of $1.8 billion.

As state lawmakers consider how to generate more funding for infrastructure, here's a look at what other Southern Legislative Conference states have done or are trying to do…

Monday
Sep152014

8 Disruptive Facts About Canadian Energy

Click here for complete article > Resource Works

The Canadian oil industry has released its 2014 forecasts for the next 16 years up to 2030. The analysis contains a number of infographics that in some instances are quite surprising.

  • By 2030, Oil Sands Forecasts Huge Growth
  • The Forecast for Conventional Western Canadian Oil Production Just Got Bigger
  • Those Big Dirty Oil Sands Pits That Desmond Tutu Hates Were Already Becoming a Thing of The Past
  • The Growth Forecast for Canadian Oil Sands Just Got Smaller
  • Quebec Cars Run Mostly on Foreign Oil
  • We Hear Only About Canadian Pipeline Proposals, But In Fact Many Pipelines Are Being Built In North America
  • Without New Oil Pipelines, It's Very Hard to See How Canadian Oil Will Get to Market
  • Yes We Are On Track to Eliminate Fossil Fuels - But It May Come As A Surprise To See How Long It Will Take
Thursday
Aug212014

Editorial: The Do Nothing Approach To Transportation Investment: Why do we keep investing the minimum amount while other countries pass us by in quality and breadth of transportation networks?

So as we sit on our hands and wait we must try to imagine what our country will look like in the future.  Recurring congestion today will not magically improve in ten year’s time with no effort to improve. 

Click here for complete article > FutureStructure

August 19, 2014

Our do-nothing Congress has indeed done something – that thing they do best – by kicking the transportation funding can down the road once more.  We now have a bill that grants the Highway Trust Fund some $11 billion over the next 10 months to help fund the country’s roadways and mass transit projects.

The bill has gimmicks (“pension smoothing”) and critics on both sides of the aisle (a better, alternate proposal to the one passed was a bipartisan creation) with calls for increased taxes to fund transportation investment even from the likes of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  Yet we have more of the same while our roads and bridges erode and become ever-more congested.  Our rail and public transit systems struggle to stay afoot despite times of record ridership.  So why do we do it?  Why do we keep investing the minimum amount while other countries pass us by in quality and breadth of transportation networks?...

Friday
Aug012014

Can you see the can bouncing down the road? Oops, it landed in a pothole, got stuck in traffic or worse yet was in an accident!

This week Congress addressed an immediate, critical need by passing legislation to extend federal surface transportation programs and ensure the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund through May 2015.  Without this short-term fix, the United States Department of Transportation would have to start cutting highway project reimbursements to states and local governments early next week.  Thousands of transportation projects and hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country would be at risk.  This is unacceptable.  For this reason, the Ports-to-Plains Alliance strongly supports this short-term fix, but it does so reluctantly.

The main reason for our reluctance is that this short-term fix simply kicks the can down of the road without any real effort to address the long-term structural deficit in the federal Highway Trust Fund.  Congress is once again using ten-year offsets to address the short-term.  Since 2008, Congress has transferred $53.3 billion in General Funds into the Highway Trust Fund using these offsets.  Frankly, it’s a gimmick.  It’s a shell game.  Congress should stop the gimmicks, stop the games. It’s time for a long-term, sustainable fix for the Highway Trust Fund. 

The Highway Trust Fund has been in dire fiscal condition for the past six years as America’s transportation network continues to decline.  The Alliance’s message to Congress is simple: we need more than a short-term fix; we need a long-term fix.  It’s incumbent on the House and Senate, working with the Administration, to develop a long-term and sustainable Highway Trust Fund solution that supports future transportation capital investments.  Anything less does a great disservice to the tens of millions of American motorists, businesses, and workers who rely on the transportation network every day.   Congress should continue working to develop a long-term funding solution and a long-term reauthorization bill.   And it should do so sooner rather than later.  It should act in 2014 if at all possible.

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance invites you to join in telling Congress it is time to return to a long term, user based funded transportation policy. Add your name to a letter to Congress asking that it reauthorizes federal transportation programs (MAP-21) for five or six years in accordance with Ports-to-Plains Alliance priorities, and provides the user-fee-based, sustainable revenues for the Highway Trust Fund necessary to support the higher levels of investment needed to modernize America’s national transportation network, including rural freight / energy / agricultural corridors like Ports-to-Plains, Heartland Expressway, and Theodore Roosevelt Expressway.

See the Federal Priorities of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance for MAP-21 Implementation and Reauthorization at http://www.portstoplains.com/images/advocacy/transportation-advocacy/2014policypaper_lores.pdf.

Add your name to the Letter to Congress at http://www.portstoplains.com/index.php/advocacy/transportation/tell-congress-to-address-transportation-funding.

Wednesday
Jul302014

Transportation funding becomes last-minute political football in D.C.

If both chambers don’t agree, states could have problems paying for current and planned construction projects. Think of this as a fiscal cliff for transportation work. It comes when lackluster federal funding on infrastructure is already costing Texans billions each year in increased fuel prices, car maintenance and lost time.

Click here for complete article > Dallas Morning News

July 30, 2014

Congress plans to take five weeks off starting Friday, but a last-minute showdown is brewing between the U.S. House and Senate over transportation funding. The House passed a short-term bill that would fund the Highway Trust Fund earlier this month.

The Senate was expected to essentially sign off. Instead, Senators yesterday overwhelmingly cut a controversial funding portion of the bill (leaving a $2 billion shortfall) that would keep the fund solvent only through December and not May, like the House wants. Both options only serve to buy Congress a little time — after November’s mid-terms — to come up with a long-term solution.

CNN’s Lisa Desjardins has a good account of what went down yesterday. She reports:

Senators then sent the changed bill back to the House, setting up a likely ping pong volley between the two chambers. Earlier Tuesday Speaker John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, drew a hard line.

“I just want to make this clear,” Boehner said, “if the Senate sends a highway bill over here with (the Wyden-Hatch version), we’re going to strip it out and put the House-passed provisions back in and send it back to the Senate.”…

Wednesday
Jul302014

U.S. Senate shortens transport extension, sets up clash with House

The vote raises the stakes for Congress as a twin deadline looms on Friday for a reduction in payments to states from the Highway Trust Fund and the start of a five-week summer recess for lawmakers.

Click here for complete article > Reuters

July 29, 2014

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday approved an $8.1 billion extension of federal funding for transportation projects through the end of 2014, setting up a clash with the House of Representatives just days ahead of cutbacks in money for road, bridge and transit construction.

The Democratic-controlled Senate had been considering a House-passed measure for a longer-term extension through May 2015, but reduced the amount of money with the aim of forcing Congress to approve a long-term transport funding bill during its post-election "lame duck" session in November.

The final bill, which also stripped the main funding mechanism in the House-passed measure, revenue from pension accounting changes, passed by a strong bipartisan vote of 79-18…

Friday
Jul252014

Senate agrees on $11B highway funding measure

The largest chunk of the money, $6.4 billion, results from allowing employers to defer payments to their employee pension plans. Funding pension plans normally results in a tax savings for companies, and deferring those payments means they will pay more in taxes and increase federal revenue. Critics say the idea is a gimmick since the pension changes cost the government money in the years beyond the 10-year window in which legislation is officially scored for its impact on the budget.

Click here for complete article > Associated Press/Star Telegram

July 23, 2014

The Senate agreed Wednesday on an $11 billion measure to temporarily fix a multibillion-dollar shortfall in federal highway and transit programs, setting up a vote next week on several alternatives.

But senators will likely end up simply adopting a measure that passed the GOP-controlled House by a sweeping bipartisan vote last week, which would send it directly to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The House bill would provide enough money to keep the federal Highway Trust Fund solvent through May 2015. The fund pays for transportation programs nationwide. The money would come from pension law changes, customs fees and a fund to repair leaking underground fuel storage tanks…