Good News but Concerns Remain on H.R.7

Greetings …On February 2, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee marked up its major surface transportation bill, HR 7, (called the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act.)  The bill contained numerous anti-safety provisions.  One of them would have allowed a “state option” to permit 97,000 lb. trucks and triple-trailer trucks to operate on most roads in many states across the nation.  However, Congressman Lou Barletta (R-PA) and Congressman Jerry Costello (D-IL) introduced and championed an amendment that REMOVED these provisions and replaced them with a responsible study on the impacts of truck sizes and weights.

This was a great victory but just shows that the trucking industry will continue to lobby vigorously for bigger, heavier and more dangerous trucks. As good as this news was, there are other great concerns regarding this bill:

It would make financing for mass transit much less certain and more vulnerable, by ending a 30-year agreement that guaranteed mass transit a one-fifth share of the fuel taxes and other user fees in the highway trust fund. Instead it would complete annually with other programs.

It would open nearly all of America’s coastal waters to oil and gas drilling, including environmentally fragile areas that have long been off limits. The ostensible purpose is to raise revenue to help make up what has become an annual shortfall for transportation financing. But it is really just one more attempt to promote the drill-new-drill everywhere agenda and the interests of their industry patrons. And, most alarmingly:

It would demolish significant environmental protections by imposing arbitrary deadlines on legally mandated environmental reviews of proposed road and highway projects, and by ceding to state highway agencies the authority to decide whether such reviews should occur.

Obviously, we need to keep the pressure to oppose these provisions on our current Congressman Mike Thompson as well as the candidates for the new CD2. If this bill passes the House, we will have to contact Senators Boxer and Feinstein to oppose passage in the Senate. Please remember to “Take Action” on <http://saverichardsongrove.org/> to contact our California legislators and Governor to abandon the Richardson Grove project.

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