Ports-to-Plains Investors










Ports-to-Plains Alliance

Entries in U.S. Senate (7)


Top GOP Senator won’t rule out gas tax hike for infrastructure upgrades

The Hill

November 7, 2017

The Senate’s No. 3 Republican left the door open on Tuesday to raising the federal gasoline tax to pay for infrastructure improvements — an idea currently being considered by the White House, but one that has repeatedly run into a buzz saw of opposition on Capitol Hill. 
“I’m not ruling out anything at this point,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, told reporters. “I think we need to keep our options open in terms of how we get that done.” 
“We have members who are open to all ideas about how to pay for [infrastructure],” he added. 
White House officials told a group of moderate House lawmakers last week that they are considering a gas tax hike to help offset President Trump’s infrastructure proposal. 

An industry source told The Hill that the administration is eyeing a 7-cent increase, though it’s unclear if the proposal would be included in the initial infrastructure legislation or if the administration will push to have it added at the committee level. 

It would be the first hike in the federal gasoline tax in over 20 years. The Highway Trust Fund, which provides money for road construction and other transportation projects across the country, is financed by a federal fuel tax of 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon of diesel fuel. 
“If anything is done on the Highway Trust Fund, it will happen in the context of an infrastructure discussion,” Thune said. “If that’s what we’re going to use to pay for infrastructure in this country, then we’ve got to figure out a way to fund the trust fund.”

Ports-to-Plains Alliance Visits Capitol Hill

Ports-to-Plains Alliance

May 6, 2014

Members of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance made their annual trip to Washington D.C. last week to meet with legislators to discuss transportation issues including shortfalls in the Highway Trust Fund, reauthorization of the transportation authorization act MAP-21, which expires Sept. 30 of this year, and the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Alliance members urged Congress to adequately fund the Highway Trust Fund to at least sustain the current levels of spending and ideally find revenues for increased levels of transportation funding. Ports-to-Plains Alliance members told Congress they support elected officials who make the tough decisions to raise revenues necessary for an enhanced federal transportation program. Ports-to-Plains support of increased revenue contingent on fair treatment of funding for rural corridors.

Alliance members also expressed their strong support for the Keystone XL pipeline project and encouraged the Presidential Permit needed for construction to begin. The Alliance believes this pipeline is in the best interest of our nation, as it is critical to our country’s efforts to create jobs, reduce our dependence on Middle East and Venezuelan oil, by increasing our access to supplies from Canada, our neighbor and loyal ally, as well as domestic supplies from the Bakken Formation of Montana and North Dakota.

Alliance members attending the meetings in Washington D.C. included: Mary Ballantyne, Washington, DC; Coby Beckner, Clayton, NM; John Bertsch, Plainview, TX; Wilson Bowling, Kimball, NE; Chris Cornell, San Angelo, TX; Deb Cottier, Chadron, NE; David Dorward, Edmonton, AB; John Friess, Sonora, TX; Beverly Haggard, Lamar, CO; David Manning, Washington, D.C.; Dwain Morrison, San Angelo, TX; Milton Pax, Dumas, TX; Gaynelle Riffe, Stratford, TX; Jack Schenendorf; Washington, DC; Cindy Turner, Hot Springs, SD; and Ports-to-Plains Alliance staff members, Michael Reeves and Duffy Hinkle, both of Lubbock, TX; Joe Kiely, Limon, CO; and Cal Klewin, Bowman, ND.

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance, based in Lubbock, Texas, is a non-profit, non-partisan, community-driven advocacy group led by mayors, councilpersons, economic development officials, business and other opinion leaders from a nine-state economic development corridor between Texas, and Alberta, Canada. The Ports-to-Plains Alliance 2300-mile Corridor consists of the Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor, Heartland Expressway, and Theodore Roosevelt Expressway.


Keystone XL supporters push for quick Senate vote on pipeline

Landrieu told reporters that negotiations are continuing, and that it is not yet clear whether the legislation will be binding or not. Hoeven and other Republicans put it differently. “We ought to have a vote that matters,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

Click here for complete article > Dallas Morning News

April 30, 2014

In a struggle steeped in election-year politics, supporters of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline are seeking a swift Senate vote on legislation to approve construction of the project that environmentalists oppose strongly and the Obama administration has delayed indefinitely.

Pipeline advocates in the Senate, who include several Democrats on the ballot next fall as well as Republicans, hold a clear majority. They also may command more than the 60 votes needed to overcome blocking tactics by opponents, but they appear to be short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override any veto by President Barack Obama.

“I will press hard for a vote in the coming weeks to build this pipeline,” Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., the chair of the Senate Energy Committee, said this week in a statement as lawmakers returned from a two-week break. Landrieu and Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, another pipeline supporter, stand accused by Republicans of being powerless to mandate the project’s construction, given the numerous delays Obama has ordered without rendering a decision…


Rejecting Keystone XL would be a gift to Putin: former Obama adviser

He says climate change requires action, but can't see how the Keystone pipeline determines that issue.

Click here for complete article > The Canadian Press

March 13, 2014

Retired Gen. James L. Jones testifies at a U.S. Senate hearing on the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington, Thursday, March 13, 2014.President Barack Obama's former national security adviser says rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline would be a gift to Vladimir Putin.

James Jones is testifying today at a Senate hearing on whether approving the pipeline is in the U.S. national interest.

He says energy scarcity is a powerful geopolitical weapon -- as evidenced now in Ukraine, and at various times in Iran and Venezuela…


Testimony of Jack Schenendorf Before the Committee on Environment and Public Works, United States Senate, Wednesday, September 25, 2013

For decades, the United States has underinvested in the national surface transportation network. As a result, the aging, congested network is in need of repair and does not have adequate capacity to accommodate future population and economic growth. Despite the persistent calls of policy groups, as well as independent, government-sponsored commissions and studies, for increased investment, the Highway Trust Fund-the primary vehicle for federal surface transportation funding-has been perpetually underfunded.

Jack Schenendorf represents the Ports-to-Plains Alliance in Washington, DC.  Jack is Of Counsel with Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, D.C.  Prior to joining Covington, he served on the staff of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for 25 years. I also served as Vice Chair of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission (hereinafter referred to as the "Policy and Revenue Study Commission") from 2005 until 2008.

Jack addressed:

  • The effects of underinvestment on the National economy
  • Highway Trust Fund Solvency
  • Principles for Evaluating Appropriate Solutions
  • Possible Solutions

His Conclusion:

In other words, this transportation crisis is predictable. We can see it coming. We know why it is happening. We know when it is going to happen, and we have time to stop it. Most importantly, we know what to do to stop it - and, in fact, revenue-raising solutions to maintain and improve our surface transportation network can be implemented almost immediately. The problem has been politics. There has not been the political will to raise the federal motor fuel or diesel fuel taxes that comprise the majority of federal surface transportation funding, even though study after study, and report after report, has recommended doing so.

In the mid-1950's, this Committee and President Eisenhower had the foresight to understand how a system of Interstate Highways would transform the Nation. If there was ever a time to take a similarly daring look at our nation surface transportation network, it is now. The Nation faces challenges similar to those of the Eisenhower era. However, due to the global economy, the imperative for change is even stronger.

It is time to act.

Click here for his complete testimony (12mb)


What a Depleted Highway Trust Fund Means for States

Congress has options to prevent the situation from becoming dire. It can transfer another $15 billion into the trust fund and authorize increasing large transfers in subsequent years. It can raise the gas tax by 10 cents per gallon. It can eliminate the $51 billion in highway and transit spending authorized for 2015. Or it can implement a combination of transfers, tax hikes and cuts.

Click here for complete article > Governing

July 29, 2013

Last week Congress was warned of what might happen if the federal accounts that pay for transportation become depleted, as they’re forecast to do in fiscal year 2015. The scenario, outlined by Polly Trottenberg, the undersecretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), prompted plenty of questions from members of Congress. But it’s state transportation officials who should be worried.

By now, the fiscal challenges facing the Highway Trust Fund, which receives federal gas tax revenue and then distributes it to states for infrastructure projects, are well known: Americans are driving less, vehicles are becoming more fuel efficient and the gas tax hasn't been increased in 20 years. If the trust fund experiences a cash shortfall, the DOT will be forced to start taking steps to manage whatever cash it has left. Trottenberg gave Congress a detailed look at what exactly that might mean for states -- and the situation isn’t pretty…

Click here to see the Trottenberg presentation.


Congress Turns Attention to HTF Solvency: House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Holds Hearing, Senator Boxer Focuses Colleagues on Need to Raise Revenue

Click here for complete article > AASTHO Journal

July 26, 2013

The future of the federal Highway Trust Fund was on the minds of congressional leaders this week.

The House T&I Committee's Subcommittee on Highways and Transit held a hearing Tuesday on the financial status of the Highway Trust Fund. Just two days later, Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) held a news conference to "sound the alarm" about the need to increase HTF revenues.

Kim Cawley, Natural and Physical Resources Cost Estimates Unit chief at the Congressional Budget Office, told the Highways and Transit subcommittee that current estimates show the HTF, which supports highway and transit programs, will be unable to meet its obligations sometime in FY2014. "The current trajectory of the Highway Trust Fund is unsustainable," Cawley said…