House to tackle highway funding bill

Jill Dunn | January 27, 2012

The House Transportation Committee plans a full-committee mark-up Thursday, Feb. 2, of what Republicans are touting as the largest transportation reform bill since the interstate highway system’s creation in 1956.

The American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act will be introduced before that meeting, according to Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.). The earmark-free legislation contrasts with the previous surface transportation law, which contained more than 6,300 earmarks.

The Florida Republican issued that statement following President Obama’s Jan. 24 State of the Union speech. The current surface transportation funding extension expires March 31.

The bill would “permanently remove government barriers to American energy production and use the revenues to repair and improve America’s roads and bridges,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Nov. 17.  It also would eliminate and consolidate nearly 70 surface transportation programs that are “either duplicative or not in the federal interest.”

Additionally, the legislation would:

  • Lift the drilling ban on new offshore areas by requiring the administration to lease offshore areas considered to have the most oil and natural gas resources.
  • Set rules for developing oil shale resources and promote shale technology research and development.
  • Open up Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and natural gas development.
  • Remove federal requirements that require states to spend highway money on non-highway activities.

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