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Ports-to-Plains Alliance


Ports-to-Plains Members introduce their experiences along the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway to large Belle Fourche audience

It was standing room only as hundreds of people packed into the Belle Fourche Area Community Center's theater Thursday for an informational meeting on the North Dakota oil boom. Pioneer photo by Heather MurschelArmed with their experiences in their own communities along the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway, members of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance provided a large South Dakota audience, hosted by the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce, their efforts in addressing the transportation and community opportunities and difficulties with the energy growth taking place along Highway 85 in North Dakota.


ND oil panel draws crowd

Black Hills Pioneer

February 3, 2012

A meeting on North Dakota's oil boom and how it is going to affect and contribute to the Northern Hills community drew hundreds of people to Belle Fourche Thursday night.

“Our hope is to provide everyone with an idea of what is going on in North Dakota and have a conversation about both the positive and the negative sides of rapid growth,” said Teresa Schanzenbach, director of the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce and a member of Belle Fourche Economic Development, the primary organizations that hosted the informational meeting. “I'm incredibly impressed with the turnout and it's great to see that we have so many people who are curious about how this all may affect us.” ...

~~~~~~~~~~Associated Press Photo By Veronica Zaragovia

SD should ready for oil boom's pros, cons: experts

Associated Press

February 3, 2012

North Dakota's oil boom brings with it tremendous wealth and enormous problems — and both are coming to South Dakota, industry experts say.

South Dakota has oil wells in counties such as Butte and Harding. The state isn't poised to compete with North Dakota — which is expected to soon become the second-biggest oil-producing state behind Texas — but experts say that crude-carrying areas should prepare to see some of the same prosperity and problems…


Speaker Newt Gingrich Confirms Attendance at Colorado Election Energy Summit

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance is a sponsor for this event and a member of the Consumer Energy Alliance. The Ports-to-Plains Alliance will have some VIP tickets for Alliance members to the event and it will be open to the public. Please contact Joe Kiely, Vice President of Operations at 303-586-1787 about availability.


For Immediate Release *** February 4, 2012

Speaker Newt Gingrich Confirms Attendance at Colorado Election Energy Summit

“I appreciate the opportunity to address the Colorado Energy Summit and discuss the dire need for a bold shift in domestic energy policy. It's time to harness our country's massive energy potential, put Americans back to work, lower prices at the pump and reinvigorate America's manufacturing base by expanding access to affordable and reliable energy.”

“We are excited to announce Speaker Gingrich will join us as a featured guest at the Colorado Energy Summit. The Speaker has a long track of supporting responsible energy development and has been an outspoken advocate for increasing development of our domestic energy resources during the ongoing presidential campaign. It’s clear Mr. Gingrich understands the importance of this issue to our nation and that he supports an all of the above energy approach that will continue to drive the nation’s economic recovery.”

“This summit has become all the more important with the Speaker’s attendance. CEA looks forward to hearing his views on the need for a robust U.S. energy strategy, including domestic oil and gas development, that will promote our continued economic recovery and drive the nation towards energy independence.”

WHERE:           Colorado School of Mines

                       1500 Illinois Street

                       Golden, CO 80401

WHEN:            February 6 2012

                       1:00pm- 5:00pm MST

RSVP:              Andrew Browning,




Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, comprised of more than 170 affiliate members, including energy consumers and producers, and tens of thousands of consumer advocates, that supports the thoughtful utilization of energy resources to help ensure improved domestic and global energy security, stable prices for consumers and balanced energy policy for America.


A look at the Transportation Reauthorization Bills passed this week by House Committees

Links to the various bills, amendments and summaries from Committees on Transportation and Infrastructure, Ways and Means and Natural Resources are below this article.


3 House Committees Pass 5-Year, $260 Billion Reauthorization

Click here for complete article > AASTHO

February 3, 2012

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted 29-24 early this morning to pass a five-year, $260 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill after a marathon markup session that lasted nearly 18 hours and included consideration of 104 amendments. The House Ways and Means Committee passed the revenue title this morning, and the House Natural Resources Committee approved expanded oil and gas drilling provisions Wednesday to help pay for transportation projects.

The American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, HR 7, would maintain existing funding levels and offer maximum flexibility to state transportation departments in using federal highway and transit grants…


U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved Transportation Reauthorization with Few Amendments - American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act

House Transportation Reauthorization H.R. 7 as Introduced

H.R. 7 Summary as Introduced

Amendment Materials from Markup of H.R. 7

Barletta Amendment 24

Approved 33-22, this amendment strikes many of the bill's provisions that increase maximum truck sizes and weights on interstates and some other federal-aid highways. The bill had proposed increasing the current 80,000-pound federal weight limit to 88,000 pounds for car carriers and 97,000 pounds for six-axle trucks. The amendment requires USDOT to conduct a comprehensive three-year study of the safety and pavement performance impacts of the widespread use of bigger trucks.

Funding Levels for Ports-to-Plains Alliance States


U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means – Transportation Reauthorization Revenue approved without Amendments - American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act

H.R. 3864 as Introduced

H.R. 3864 Summary as Introduced


U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources approved Energy Provisions of Transportation Reauthorization - American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act

H.R. 3407 -- Alaskan Energy for American Jobs Act as Introduced

H.R. 3864 -- American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Financing Act of 2012 as Introduced

H.R.3410 -- Energy Security and Transportation Jobs Act as Introduced

These bills are designed to help pay for the surface transportation reauthorization by expanding offshore oil and gas exploration, permitting oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and increasing oil shale exploration and production.

More Information from Committee on Natural Resources


Rebuilding transportation is key

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) is chairman of the Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.


Click here for complete article > Politico.com/The Hill.com By U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster

February 1, 2012

Transportation is essential to our nation's competitiveness and economy. Congress has the opportunity in the coming weeks to put job creation and economic development in the fast lane with the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act. It is designed to build our infrastructure, reform transportation programs, unlock U.S. energy resources, reduce dependence on foreign oil, strengthen our economy and create jobs…


Support the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act that Strengthens the Economy by Increasing Truck Productivity

Ports-to-Plains Alliance is a member of the Western States Transportation Alliance.


Click here for original release > Cleaner Safer Trucking Inc. via Western States Transportation Alliance

January 31, 2012

Congress should restore authority to the states to make decisions about which roads are suited for more productive trucks including longer combination vehicles (LCVs.)

In 1991 Congress passed a provision that stripped the states of their authority to regulate which truck configurations can safely operate on their highways. There was no crisis or great public outcry. Rather, Washington decided it was wiser and better suited to make such decisions. Even as roads have been improved and new roads built, the states that permitted LCVs in 1991 haven't been able to update the list of roads on which they can operate.

Rep. John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has drafted the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, a 5-year bill to reauthorize federal surface transportation programs. This bill also restores flexibility to states which currently allow LCVs to open up additional routes while giving the federal Department of Transportation oversight authority to assure safe operations. We urge you to support these provisions.

The freight railroad industry and its front groups (such as the Coalition Against Big Trucks) are using false safety arguments to undermine Chairman Mica’s effort to restore authority to the states and make trucking more productive. They want the trucking productivity provisions pulled from the draft or relegated to a study. We ask that you strongly oppose such efforts or any attempt to substitute "study" language.  Time is of the essence. Committee markup is scheduled for this Thursday, February 2. It is critical that members of Congress be contacted before Thursday!

The message is this:  LCVs have operated in many states for decades.  They have an outstanding safety record, and they reduce emissions and fuel consumption.  They enhance our international competitiveness by increasing productivity.  Their expanded use is supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Retail Federation, the Highway Users Association and many others. State legislatures are better qualified to determine which truck configurations are best suited for their highways than is Washington and now is the time to begin to restore to the states the authority stripped from them twenty years  ago. Please support the trucking productivity provisions in Chairman John Mica’s American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act.


Western States Transportation Alliance: Ten western states have joined an alliance designed to foster cooperation on a variety of highway-related issues, including truck size and weight, highway safety, cooperative state highway administration and improved commercial vehicle safety inspections. The alliance, known as the Multi-State Highway Transportation Agreement (MHTA), recognized the unique transportation challenges faced by rural western states and was intended to improve communication between state legislators, state administrators and private industry.

Cleaner Safer Trucking is coalition of stakeholders interested in improving the safety, productivity and environmental sustainability of the trucking industry through sensible changes to vehicle size and weight regulations. Our members include leading participants in the freight trucking community, including motor carriers, equipment manufacturers, trade associations and shipper consortiums representing a broad group of industries and interests.


ATA Leaders Say House Highway Bill Will Improve Safety, Infrastructure

Click here for complete article > American Trucking Associations

January 31, 2012

Leaders of American Trucking Associations praised Chairman John Mica, and other House leaders, for their work to craft a surface transportation bill that will not only make needed improvements to our nation’s highway system, but will also make that system safer for trucks and cars.

“This bill,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said, “is a major step forward, not just for trucking, but for all users of our transportation system. From reforming how projects are delivered and refocusing the federal highway program on issues of national interest, like freight movement, Chairman Mica has laid the groundwork for significant improvements in how Americans travel…


Transportation bills: House and Senate versions have major differences

Click here for complete article > Politico

January 30, 2012

With two months remaining to get a long-term surface transportation bill done, the House and Senate are racing this week to mark up several portions of their dueling legislation. And though the process is just beginning, there are already major rifts between the chambers.

Lawmakers are playing up the similarities in public — the annual funding levels are close enough, they say — and transportation leaders continue to express cautious optimism. But when pressed, senators and representatives are unhappy with a number of major differences, including how the bills are paid for and how long they last…


Ports-to-Plains Alliance: Commercial Traffic Rising Del Rio

Del Rio News Herald

January 26, 2012

Commercial traffic into Mexico from Del Rio continued to increase last year, a sign that the maquiladora industry in Cuidad Acuña has held onto its momentum.

However, the number of personal vehicles heading south dwindled in 2011, after seeing a slight increase in 2010, according to figures released this week by the City of Del Rio.

The month of December saw the greatest decrease of non-commercial traffic with 7.3 percent fewer cars and pickups entering Mexico than in December 2010, the figures show.

Overall, southbound non-commercial traffic was about 1.2 percent less than the prior year, said Margie Montez, the superintendent of the Del Rio International Bridge.

But the category that continues to see the greatest losses is the number of pedestrians who cross into Mexico.

Southbound foot traffic on the bridge plummeted 25 percent in 2011 compared to two years ago, and 5 percent compared to 2010.

"Every year we're seeing a little bit fewer traffic," Montez said.

She attributes the decrease on a variety of factors, including a weakened economy and the lingering affects of a June 2009 mandate requiring passports for all border crossers - even those who routinely make the trip across the border.

She said since then, the numbers have been falling, except for commercial traffic, which increased 11 percent in 2011 compared to 2010.

Jackie Robinson, a city spokeswoman, said security concerns also have impacted travel into Mexico, which has been wracked by drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon launched a crackdown on cartels in 2006.

"We would be kidding ourselves if we don't think that it does play a role, but I don't think it plays as big a role as it does in other communities along the border," Robinson said.

Eight of the 12 months last year saw decreases in non-commercial traffic, with most of the loss occurring during the last three months of the year: October, November and December.

The amount of foot traffic going to Acuña fluctuated throughout 2011, with some months, such as February experiencing up to 34 percent less traffic.

When compared to 2009 figures, last year's numbers fare even worse. Some months, such as July and May, saw nearly 50 percent fewer people walking across the bridge than in 2010.

"The weather has a lot to do with it," Montez said.

Robinson pointed out that the distance a person has to walk across the Del Rio International Bridge is about 3/4 of a mile.

Montez also said wait times at the bridge checkpoints also are a deterrent.

"We see people paying the toll to cross and then turning back around because the line is all the way down the bridge," she said.

The silver lining, according to city officials, is that commercial traffic is thriving, up 20 percent in 2011 compared to 2009.

"I think over the last five years, they really have been focused on economic development," Robinson said. "We're seeing the result of that as well."

She said more companies have maquiladoras in Acuña than in Piedras Negras, across from Eagle Pass, and Nuevo Laredo, across from Laredo, combined.

"They now have five industrial parks in the city of Acuña," she said.

Al Arreola Jr., the Del Rio Chamber of Commerce's executive director, agrees with Robinson's assessment.

Arreola said Emerson is the latest company to announce it was investing in a maquiladora in Acuña.

Mexican city officials in September announced the company was investing $20 million in a maquiladora that would develop electronic medical products.

"Acuña gave them a sweetheart deal," Arreola said, adding Del Rio also stands to benefit from the transaction. "They still spend money over here."