Logistics Weekly

Senate EPW Releases Multi-year Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill

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Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed their five-year $287 billion surface transportation bill. The bill would authorize $287 billion in highway spending, 90 percent of which – $259 billion – would be distributed to states by formula. It also would establish a program to fund projects that "will improve the resiliency of roads and bridges to natural disasters and extreme weather events" and authorize both formula-based and grant-based programs "to begin to reduce transportation-related emissions." Parts of the "One Federal Decision" policy to streamline project permitting would become law.

Additionally, Environmental reviews of infrastructure projects would aim to be limited to two years under surface transportation legislation unveiled by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today.
Under the bill, the Department of Transportation would oversee interagency coordination and reviews required under the National Environmental Policy Act before issuing a single decision for the permitting process, signed by all relevant agencies, within two years. Other agencies would be able to request an extension of up to a year, subject to approval from DOT.

Also included in the legislation is another of Chairman John Barrasso's (R-WY) top priorities: language, S. 383 (116), aimed at speeding the development and deployment of carbon capture, utilization and sequestration technologies.

The bill, which includes a title dedicated to climate change, would make a number of other climate change-related investments. It would include $1 billion spread over five years for electric, hydrogen, and natural gas vehicle charging and fueling infrastructure.

The legislation would also extend the authorization of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act through fiscal 2024; provide $3.5 billion over five years through several programs for states to curb highway-related carbon emissions, and provide hundreds of millions in new funding to reduce traffic congestion and truck idling at ports.

As this is a good first step toward Congress possibly acting to address the expiring current surface transportation bill (FAST Act), the Senate Committees on Commerce, Finance and Banking all have their parts of the reauthorization bill to develop and move forward. Not to mention there has been little to no movement from the House of Representatives on pushing out a surface transportation bill. The FAST Act expires in September 2020 right before the Presidential election.

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