The Boxer/Inhofe Amendment: Not Green Enough

A revised draft of the Boxer/Inhofe amendment just came over the transom from a source in DC close to the negotiations (PDF).  This is a draft from yesterday and negotiations are ongoing, so expect changes. 

Specifically, enviros are trying to get a "green screen" put in
place, so that USDOT can pick from the priority projects presented by
the state DOTs.  Theoretically this would mean that the Obama
administration would make better decisions about how to spend the money
than the states and would redirect funding to priority transit projects.

Boxer
appears responsive to appeals to revise the amendment. The Senator is
‘working in good faith’ to improve Inhofe’s original proposal,
according to a source who wished to remain anonymous. Based on the
current language, though, the amendment still gives precedence to the
states to load up their road building projects.

Here are the highlights of the draft circulating as of yesterday:

Summary of EPW Amendment to HR 1,
the American Recovery Reinvestment Act of 2009
  • The amendment Senators Boxer and Inhofe have been working on would increase highway, transit and water (clean water and drinking water) infrastructure funding in the stimulus by up to $50 billion if other funding provided for in the bill is not used quickly.
  • This amendment would redirect up to $50 billion of funding that would otherwise expire at the end of Fiscal Year 2009 in addition (if necessary) to unobligated balances from slower-spending programs appropriated throughout the stimulus package that have not been obligated within a full year after enactment.   
  • A maximum of $50 billion would be redistributed by the President to states for use on highways, transit and water projects, based on a priority list of shovel ready projects within 120 days, as determined by states.  This list would be provided by each state and certified by the Governor, based on priorities that are the product of ongoing state and local planning programs.
  • Eligibility has been expanded far beyond highways alone.  A broad array of projects beyond highways and bridges can be funded including transit and environmental mitigation for example.  States and localities should give special consideration to projects that will bring the conditions of roads, bridges, and other transportation system elements up to standard, that will result in immediate employment, that will increase the energy independence of the United States, and that will provide long-term economic benefits.
  • This amendment would provide additional funding for the clean water and drinking water state revolving funds and would maintain the 15% set-aside for green infrastructure included in the underlying bill.  This ensures that states will be able to implement green projects to reduce energy consumption and improve water efficiency with any funding provided through the amendment.                     
  • This amendment takes money that is otherwise not going to quickly stimulate the economy and moves it to a program that can get people working faster.
  • Funds are moved to highway, transit and water infrastructure investments under this amendment because they improve our nation’s infrastructure and can be under contract in an expedited manner.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

STREETSBLOG USA

Two-Year Transpo Bill Moves on to Full Senate Without Bike/Ped Protections

|
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted unanimously this morning to pass a two-year transportation reauthorization bill, moving the bill one step closer to passage by the full Senate. Unlike in the House, where the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has full responsibility for the transportation bill, the Senate splits jurisdiction among several committees, so the […]

Senate’s $50 Billion Highway Giveaway Nearly Dead

|
The Inhofe/Boxer stimulus bill amendment for $50 billion in additional infrastructure funds appears to be dead, with official word expected soon from Senator Harry Reid’s office. Sources close to the negotiations say that at least five Democratic Senators were not going to support the amendment if transit and water provisions weren’t improved, while Senate Republicans […]

Boxer’s Stimulus Saga Rolls On

|
Boxer no stranger to new freeways Environmental groups in DC are guardedly optimistic that yesterday’s barrage of phone calls and emails to Senator Boxer and company urging them not to write a $50 billion blank check for the highway lobby has not been in vain.  Boxer did not introduce the feared highway amendment yesterday and […]

It Gets Worse: Boxer/Inhofe to Request $50B More for Highways

|
Friends of the Earth tells Streetsblog San Francisco that Senator Barbara Boxer’s staff has confirmed that Boxer and Senator Inhofe will present an amendment to the federal Stimulus Plan for $50 billion in additional funding for highways, bringing the total to $80 billion, exactly the figure Inhofe demanded last week in a letter to the […]
STREETSBLOG USA

Transportation Enhancements Beats Back Another Assault

|
A Republican lawmaker purporting to be acting out of budgetary concern has, once again, taken aim at a popular active transportation program — and, again, the Senate has rejected the effort. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today offered an amendment that would have greatly restricted, but not reduced overall funding levels, for the national Transportation Enhancements program, which consumes just one-and-a-half cents […]