Hoeven Updates City, County Leaders on New Highway Bill, Keystone Pipeline, Regional Haze, USGS Bakk ator John Hoeven briefed city and county leaders on the progress of legislation and other issues important to North Dakota,
BigNews.Biz - Mar 20,2012 - Hoeven Updates City, County Leaders on New Highway Bill, Keystone Pipeline, Regional Haze, USGS Bakken Study
BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven briefed city and county leaders on the progress of legislation and other issues important to North Dakota, including a new highway bill passed this week by the U.S. Senate, the Keystone XL pipeline project, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent regional haze ruling and a study underway by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to reassess petroleum reserves in western North Dakota.
Highway Transportation Bill Provides Record Funding for North Dakota
The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) bill as passed by the Senate will provide North Dakota with $261.5 million in Fiscal Year 2012 and $266 million in Fiscal Year 2013 under the federal highway program. The state will also receive an additional $24 million over the two years for public transit programs, for a total of $551.5 million.
The funding comes on top of $317 million approved in December through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Emergency Relief Program, and will provide resources to address pressing infrastructure needs statewide in North Dakota, including roads and bridges in western North Dakota. In addition, the legislation makes changes to the Indian Reservation Roads Program formula, now called the Tribal Transportation Program, which will help protect North Dakota’s tribal road funding.
Congress has passed a number of short-term extensions for transportation programs since 2009, but the bill passed by the Senate Wednesday provides authorization through 2013 and greater funding certainty for states to plan larger projects. The U.S. House of Representatives must now work to pass a surface transportation measure.
The new bill is fully paid for and finds efficiencies, such as reducing the number of federal highway programs from about 90 to 30 and at the same time gives states additional flexibility to allocate funding where most needed.
“This legislation will provide the certainty needed for long-term infrastructure planning in North Dakota, while at the same time, protecting the state’s share of limited transportation dollars,” Hoeven said. “Combined with the $317 million we worked to secure through the DOT’s Emergency Relief Program, North Dakota will receive a combined record total of nearly $870 million over the next two years to address critical infrastructure needs across the state. It comes at a time when our economy is growing, and we need to address both flood impacts and infrastructure development in western North Dakota and across the state.”
Keystone XL Pipeline Project Has Momentum
Hoeven also updated leaders on the status of the Keystone XL pipeline project, which the senator said would be a big step toward achieving North American energy independence. It would reduce reliance on imported Middle East oil and help reduce the cost of fuel at the pump for consumers. It is also needed to help move oil production in North Dakota to U.S. refineries.
The Senator offered his legislation as an amendment to the highway bill that would have authorized Congress to approve the project