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Federal Transportation Bill

House GOP Previews Transpo + Oil Drilling Bill, Details to Come Later

1:59 PM EST on November 17, 2011

Rumors were flying that this morning House GOP leaders would unveil their proposal for a multi-year transportation bill funded in part by oil and gas extraction fees, but they revealed no details at their press conference.

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Instead, House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica gave a preview, saying the bill will:

    • consolidate duplicative parts of the federal transportation system
    • shift responsibility to states and local governments to move transportation projects forward
    • increase the ability to leverage financial resources
    • significantly streamline the process for projects, cutting red tape and federal paperwork
No word on the dollar amount or duration of the bill. Mica did note that the bill is a "key component of our Republican jobs proposal."

Speaker John Boehner said he still hopes the House will act on the bill before year's end.

All the questions from reporters that Boehner took were about the deficit reduction supercommittee.

Meanwhile, environmental groups and transportation advocates are already responding. Jesse Prentice-Dunn of the Sierra Club wrote that "the Speaker is right that we desperately need to invest in our crumbling transportation infrastructure, but wrong in suggesting that we must sacrifice our environment to do so":

Our addiction to oil is threatening our climate, our coasts, and our wallets. Transportation, driven primarily by our passenger cars and trucks, consumes roughly two-thirds of oil used nationwide and is responsible for roughly one-third of our nation's carbon pollution. At the same time, nearly half of Americans lack access to public transit, forcing them to pay any price at the pump to get around.

Instead of offering a plan to upgrade our infrastructure into the 21st century, Speaker Boehner laid out a one-two punch that will leave us addicted to oil for decades to come.

We'll have more information about the bill later today.

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