Committee Approves Slate of Transportation & Infrastructure Measures

By MarEx 2011-09-12 08:29:25

Washington, DC – The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved several legislative measures at a Committee markup today, including bills to reauthorize the United States Coast Guard, prohibit the United States from participating in a European Union emissions trading scheme that unfairly taxes U.S. airlines, and reauthorize pipeline safety programs in a manner that enhances safety efforts while providing the regulatory certainty that will encourage job creation.

The Committee approved the following measures:
• H.R. 2845, the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011
• H.R. 2594, the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011
• H.R. 2838, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2011
• H.R. 2839, the Piracy Suppression Act of 2011
• H.R. 2844, the National Women’s History Museum and Federal Facilities Consolidation and Efficiency Act of 2011
• General Services Administration Capital Investment and Leasing Program Resolutions
H.R. 2845, the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011, reauthorizes and strengthens pipeline safety programs and ensures the regulatory certainty in pipeline transportation necessary to allow businesses to create jobs. The bill was introduced by Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and co-sponsored by Chairman Mica.

The bill, as well as a manager’s amendment offered by Chairman Shuster, passed unanimously today. The approved amendment represents an agreement on the Pipeline Safety bill between Committee Republicans and Democrats.

The bill authorizes federal pipeline safety programs through fiscal year 2015. It renews the federal commitment to improving safety while ensuring a reasonable regulatory process that does not ignore the need for regulatory certainty to provide job growth. Without such regulatory certainty, American businesses cannot create jobs.

The legislation continues to improve pipeline transportation and safety by providing tougher penalties for pipeline operators that violate pipeline safety laws; improving pipeline damage prevention measures and cracking down on third party pipeline damage; allowing the secretary to require automatic and remote-controlled shut-off valves on new pipelines; requiring the Secretary to evaluate the effectiveness of expanding pipeline Integrity Management and Leak Detection requirements; improving the way DOT and pipeline operators provide information to the public and emergency responders; and reforming the process by which pipeline operators notify federal, state and local officials of pipeline accidents.

“H.R. 2845, the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 improves safety, enhances reliability, and provides the regulatory certainty necessary to create jobs,” said Chairman Shuster. “Pipelines are the safest and most cost-effective means to transport the natural gas and hazardous liquid products that fuel our economy. By reauthorizing federal pipeline safety programs through Fiscal Year 2015, H.R. 2845 provides the regulatory certainty necessary for pipeline owners and operators to plan for the future, make investments in this infrastructure, and create American jobs.”

“This legislation improves the safety and reliability of the transportation of our nation’s energy products, and provides for a regulatory process that allows businesses to create jobs,” said Chairman Mica.

H.R. 2594, the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011, is a strong bipartisan response to EU plans to impose a costly fee on any civil aviation operators landing in or departing from EU airports. Under the scheme, flights into or out of an EU airport, regardless of how long that flight is in EU airspace, would be subject to the program’s emissions cap and trade requirements. U.S. airlines would be required to pay an emissions tax to the EU Member State to which they most frequently fly, without any requirements that EU countries even use these fees in emissions reduction efforts.
The United States Government and Congress have objected to the forced participation in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

The bill was introduced by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL), Transportation Committee Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri (R-WI), Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Member Jerry Costello (D-IL), and other Members of Congress.

H.R. 2594 directs the Secretary of Transportation to prohibit U.S. aircraft operators from participating in the ETS. The bill also instructs U.S. officials to negotiate or take any action necessary to ensure U.S. aviation operators are not penalized by any unilaterally imposed EU scheme.

“The European Union’s inclusion of international civil aviation in its emissions trading scheme, including all segments of the flight whether in EU Member airspace or not, is a violation of U.S. sovereignty and international law,” said Petri. “Aviation is a global industry and demands global solutions, not unilateral action that amounts to nothing more than a cash-grab.”

“The unilateral imposition of the ETS is a clear violation of international law. We want to let the European Union know that we are not going to support this scheme and that we want a positive outcome by working with the international community,” said Mica.
H.R. 2838, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2011, is a fiscally responsible reauthorization of the U.S. Coast Guard that includes programmatic reforms to help ensure the Service better utilizes resources and more efficiently replaces its aging assets.

The bill was introduced by Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Frank A. LoBiondo (R-NJ) and co-sponsored by Full Committee Chairman Mica.

The legislation authorizes the service for fiscal years 2012 through 2014, and authorizes a service strength of 47,000 active duty personnel. It authorizes $8.49 billion for the Coast Guard for fiscal year 2012, $8.6 billion for fiscal year 2013, and $8.7 billion for fiscal year 2014, and includes critical provisions that will give the Coast Guard and its personnel greater parity with the Department of Defense.

The bill makes a number of reforms and improvements in Coast Guard administration. It prohibits the production of a sixth national security cutter until certain capabilities planned for the first five are in place, further exemplifying its priority on fiscal responsibility. The bill also includes provisions to improve the safety and efficiency of the maritime transportation system, as well as to protect and grow maritime related jobs.

“From homeland security and drug interdiction to traditional search and rescue, the Coast Guard achieves success in their missions often by doing more with less, said Chairman LoBiondo. “This authorization is a fiscally responsible effort to ensure that success continues while bringing greater parity for those men and women who protect our ports and waterways.”

“While Congress continues to consider extensions for FAA and surface transportation programs, my goal is to pass a Coast Guard reauthorization before the Service’s existing authority expires,” Mica said.

H.R. 2839, the Piracy Suppression Act of 2011, bolsters the United States’ ability to counter piracy by strengthening existing authorities and providing the federal government with additional options. The bill increases the penalty for piracy to include capital punishment; improves an existing training program to instruct mariners on acceptable use of force against pirates; authorizes armed security on vessels carrying government impelled cargo through high risk waters; encourages other countries to contribute to the existing international effort to suppress piracy; and includes a report on ways to improve U.S. efforts to track ransom payments and the movement of money through Somali piracy networks.

The bill was introduced by Subcommittee Chairman LoBiondo and co-sponsored by Chairman Mica.

“H.R. 2839 protects American seafarers and property, enhances the legal tools available to prosecutors, provides incentives to other nations to suppress piracy, and examines ways to better track pirate finances,” said LoBiondo.

The Committee also approved several measures related to the management of federal properties and the improved utilization of federal assets. H.R. 2844, the National Women’s History Museum and Federal Facilities Consolidation and Efficiency Act of 2011, directs the General Services Administration (GSA) to sell an unused federal parcel of land at fair market value for private investment in and construction of a National Women’s History Museum.

The bill also directs the GSA to transfer the current Federal Trade Commission (FTC) headquarters to the National Gallery of Art (NGA), saving taxpayers approximately $300 million in the long-term by avoiding over $140 million in renovation costs for the FTC headquarters and $145 million in leasing costs for the National Gallery of Art. The FTC headquarters would be relocated to office space that is currently empty after the Securities and Exchange Commission recently leased space it did not need. This legislation will allow the FTC to occupy this vacant but modern, more efficient office space, for which taxpayers have already been placed on the hook by the SEC.

The bill was introduced on Wednesday, September 7, 2011 by Chairman Mica and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

“This proposal ensures the federal government stops sitting on its assets,” said Mica. “It improves the management of real property by making use of unused or underused property, attracting private investment, and ensuring the more efficient use of space. Both projects are examples of how we can save money and provide other benefits to the taxpayers, such as expanding the American people’s access to history and their cultural treasures.”

“I’m grateful to Chairman Mica for his steadfast leadership and commitment to making the National Women’s History Museum a reality,” said Rep. Maloney. “This museum will help ensure that future generations understand what we owe to the many generations of American women that helped build, sustain, and advance our society. It is a great use for an empty lot on our National Mall, and it makes good fiscal sense.”

The Committee also approved six General Services Administration Capital Investment and Leasing Program Resolutions that will save taxpayers more than $21 million annually and more than $210 million over ten years. These resolutions ensure savings through lower rents, avoidance of holdover penalties, and efficiencies created through consolidation. The Committee also included space utilization requirements in each of the resolutions to ensure agencies find ways to shrink our real property footprint.

“This year, we are taking a hard look at all of GSA’s proposed projects and leases,’ said Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Denham (R-CA). “We must ensure taxpayer dollars are not wasted on space we don’t need and we have to make sure agencies are using existing space more efficiently. We must shrink the footprint of federal property and maximize the utilization rate in Federal buildings. These resolutions are in line with those goals and will save the taxpayers money.”

For more information on today’s markup, click here.