Utility Infrastructure

March 2, 2012
The Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, chaired by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), held a hearing to review innovative approaches for financing community water infrastructure projects. The subcommittee focused on potential financing tools, including many AGC priorities in the water infrastructure sector. The chairman’s opening statement acknowledged the substantial water infrastructure needs and the unfortunate results of deferred investment. Witnesses pointed out that local governments continue to be concerned about the impacts unfunded federal mandates have on their ability to meet compliance obligations, especially given municipalities' dwindling revenues in the current economic climate.
February 10, 2012
During the markup of the Senate Finance Committee’s portion of the Surface Transportation bill, Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) offered a version of the AGC-supported legislation exempting water and wastewater infrastructure from the private activity bond volume cap as an amendment. The amendment was accepted on a voice vote, because it wasn’t controversial enough to require a roll call vote and AGC is hopeful that the bill will pass.
January 21, 2012
As AGC reported previously, a company called LightSquared is planning to build a national mobile internet network to compete with the data signal offered by major cell phone companies. Early reports indicated that the spectrum they planned to use was too close to the signal band used by the Global Positioning System, causing signal bleed and interference, particularly for the sensitive GPS receivers aboard agricultural and construction equipment.
January 3, 2012
A last minute legislative compromise to avert a government shutdown saw Democrats and Republicans come together on the nine outstanding appropriations bills. Among them is the Interior/Environment appropriations bill, which contains the funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) State Revolving Loan Funds (SRFs). The compromise would fund the Clean Water SRF at $1.469 billion, down from $1.525 billion in FY 2011. The bill also funds the Drinking Water SRF at $919 million, down from $965 million in FY 2011. This represents total cuts to the SRFs of slightly more than $100 million.
December 17, 2011
On Dec.13, the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife held a hearing entitled "Our Nation’s Water Infrastructure: Challenges and Opportunities." The hearing featured testimony from Environmental Protection Agency Jim Hanlon, who is the Director for the Office of Wastewater management – with jurisdiction over the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. Representatives from the engineering community were also there to discuss their latest report on water infrastructure.
December 16, 2011
The Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 (H.R. 2845) final language was agreed on last week and the bipartisan, bicameral work of the House and Senate committees of jurisdiction resulted in swift house passage Monday. The legislation authorizes funding for programs of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) through FY 2015. 
December 10, 2011
Legislation that that enhances pipeline safety and reliability in transporting our nation’s utility resources had previously passed two committees in the House. Now, newly agreed upon language to amend the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 (H.R. 2845), will reauthorize federal pipeline safety programs through fiscal year 2015. Pipeline safety and the prevention of underground facility damages has been a top priority for AGC and this legislation is a significant step forward in the process to provide greater regulatory certainty and predictability for construction contractors.
December 9, 2011
The leading Democrats on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee proposed legislation instituting tough new ‘Buy American’ requirements for construction projects. The bill, “Invest in American Jobs Act of 2011” (H.R. 3533), will require all steel, iron and manufactured goods used in the covered construction categories to be produced in the U.S. Covered categories include federal-aid highway, rail, public transit, Amtrak, aviation, wastewater and FEMA mitigation projects. Many of these categories have pre-existing requirements that would be superseded by this bill’s more stringent requirements. Other programs have little experience with Buy American requirements outside of Recovery Act projects.
October 22, 2011
On Oct. 17, the Senate passed, by unanimous consent, S. 275, the Pipeline Transportation Safety Improvement Act of 2011.  The legislation would authorize more federal safety inspectors, increase penalties for violations and require pipeline companies verify their records on pipelines’ physical and operational characteristics and establish maximum operating pressures based on the verified information.
October 16, 2011
The House and Senate both approved three bilateral free trade agreements with the countries of Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. AGC supported approval to increase demand for construction services and keep costs low for components, materials, and manufactured goods.


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