Infrastructure in the News: November 28, 2012
BAF IN THE NEWS:
National Journal: Bloomberg Wants $9.8 billion In NYC Sandy Aid
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday released his request for federal aid for recovery from Hurricane Sandy, writing in a letter to the New York congressional delegation that public and private losses to his city will total about $19 billion.
New York Times: As Rationing Ends, Gas Stations Return to Normal
Last Sunday, after the end of gas rationing in New York City, a slow, steady stream of customers approached a cashier booth inside a Gulf gas station at the intersection of Myrtle and Vanderbilt Avenues. They slid coins and bills under the Plexiglas partition and left after brief but polite conversation with the cashier, Shook Kamar.
The Hill: Oil-and-gas lobby: Repeal of biofuel rule a top priority in next Congress
A top oil-and-gas lobby is changing strategy and will press Congress to repeal a biofuel production mandate instead of pushing for piecemeal changes to the rule.
The Hill: House hearing on Amtrak funding set for Wednesday
House Republicans have scheduled their anticipated hearing on Amtrak funding for Wednesday morning.
Fast Lane: FAA efforts reopen the skies--and runways--after Sandy
The Thanksgiving holiday has come and gone, but there's still plenty to be thankful for. So today, I want to join Acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta in sharing my gratitude for the hard work of our Federal Aviation Administration in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Center for American Progress: Idea of the Day: We Need to Invest in Our Nation’s Infrastructure
President Barack Obama’s re-election was widely viewed as a referendum on the issues he has championed in his first term, and that certainly includes rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. On the campaign trail, the president repeatedly called for directing to infrastructure the federal spending saved by ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, asking for those funds to support “nation building right here at home.” Only one week before the election, he laid out his legislative agenda for a second term: addressing the federal deficit first, then moving on to infrastructure improvement and immigration reform.
New York Times: Apple Fires a Manager Over Its Misfire on Maps
Apple has fired a manager who oversaw its mobile mapping service, continuing to clean house after a bad stumble.
Washington Post: A startup that squeezes electricity out of city water
The water that sloshes through city pipes can both quench your thirst and generate electricity. However, the latter is far less common. But that’s the proposition from startup Rentricity, which has developed equipment that uses water pressure to produce electricity and helps water suppliers reduce their energy costs.
Washington Post: House GOP leaders recommend new committee chairmen: Ryan back at Budget panel, no women
WASHINGTON — Top House Republicans announced their recommendations Tuesday for the new Congress’ committee chairmanships, an all-male list that includes returning Paul Ryan to the Budget panel and seven new faces to head other committees.
Politico: Morning Transportation
By Burgess Everett and Adam Snider Featuring Jessica Meyers
SHUSTER GAVEL INCREASINGLY OFFICIAL: The House GOP Steering Committee yesterday recommended that Rep. Bill Shuster assume the T&I chairmanship in the 113th Congress. The panel also recommended that Rep. Mike McCaul take the Homeland Security gavel; that committee oversees TSA. Shuster’s ascension was of little surprise after current Chairman John Mica withdrew his bid for a term limit waiver on Monday, but McCaul’s triumph over Candice Miller and Mike Rogers is sure to raise a few eyeballs. The Steering recommendations are up for full Republican conference ratification today. Jake Sherman has more on the all-male chairmanship team: http://politi.co/TkKoRL The full list of chairman recommendations:http://1.usa.gov/TjDsEZ
Shuster’s agenda: MT speed-walked with Shuster out to his ride after House votes yesterday evening, where the presumed chairman-to-be outlined the tough tasks facing him and the committee in the coming months and years. “First priority is getting through this lame duck, dealing with the fiscal cliff. And then setting up the committee and making sure we have a WRDA bill to do, there’s going to be a railroad reauthorization that expires next year, starting to lay the groundwork for 2014 for the highway transportation bill,” he told MT.
LARSEN LOOKING TO LEAP: With Boeing in his Washington state backyard, it’s little surprise that Coast Guard Subcommittee ranking member Rick Larsen has his eye on a move to the aviation panel’s top Dem job replacing retiring Jerry Costello. “That one is very easy,” he said when Jessica asked about his interest. “A piece of every Boeing commercial airplane, if not the entire plane, is manufactured in my district,” he said, adding that more than 190 aerospace suppliers also reside there. “It would be a great opportunity if I could be the lead on aviation."
INHOFE VOWS TO STAY ACTIVE IN TRANSPO: Sen. Jim Inhofe won’t be back as EPW’s top Republican next year — but that doesn’t mean he won’t be vocal on transportation issues, he told MT. “Because of the change in the committee structure, even though I won’t have the same position I had before, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to take a leadership role in transportation as well as the regulations and all the other things in energy,” Inhofe said Monday evening. Sen. David Vitter is expected to take over the top Republican slot on EPW, but Inhofe, who has served on the panel since he joined the Senate in 1994, downplayed any differences between the two. “We might have different styles. Sometimes those styles are easier to look at from the outside than the inside,” he said. “To me, the only real difference is he’s from a coastal state and I’m not, so his greed is in a different place,” he said with a laugh. Pros get more from Adam:http://politico.pro/VbqK0H
MT BONUS — Boxer, Vitter taking: EPW Chairwoman Barbara Boxer told MT that she and Vitter have had a handful of “very productive” talks about their leadership of the committee next year and she predicted lots of cooperation in some areas, less in others. “I think he and I again will see eye to eye on a lot of the infrastructure issues: The WRDA bill, the highway bill.” Environmental issues, not so much. “We don’t see eye to eye on climate change but I don’t think that he’s as — shall I say — adamant in terms of his thinking about it.” It seems possible her committee could for a second session be the Senate poster child of bipartisanship. “I do anticipate a very good working relationship,” Boxer concluded.
FINALLY INKED: President Barack Obama signed Sen. John Thune and Claire McCaskill’s bill exempting U.S. airlines from the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme on Tuesday, ending speculation about whether green groups would lobby hard enough to get him to veto it. “We’re disappointed,” said Keya Chatterjee, director of International Climate Policy at the World Wildlife Fund. “The silver lining for us is that they still have a chance to get this right.” Annie Petsonk of EDF put it this way: “Do we like the bill? No. It’s very rare to have the United States prohibit U.S. companies complying with foreign law.” But the administration is still “firmly committed” to reducing aviation emissions, National Security Council spox Caitlin Hayden said. Darren Goode takes the lead with a Burgess assist: http://politico.pro/117rXp7
ON SCHEDULE: He won’t be around to helm T&I next year, but he’s still the man in charge for the rest of the year. Mica holds a hearing today on “Amtrak’s structural reorganization,” the fourth in what he’s promised will be a six-part series. MT got a preview of Amtrak head Joe Boardman’s testimony, where he will argue that the railroad’s 2011 strategic plan helps it operate more like a business. “At its core, Amtrak is a great policy solution — with a cost recovery of 85 percent, we provide some of the lowest-cost, most efficient intercity passenger rail service in the world. Our challenge is to continue to improve, so that we can deliver the technical improvements that allow prospective passengers to connect with us, the physical improvements to our stations and trains to make their journeys comfortable, and the customer service improvements we will need to satisfy them and earn their business,” Boardman will say in his written testimony.
SENATE COMMERCE TO HOLD NOMINATIONS HEARING: The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a nominations hearing on three of President Obama’s nominees for transportation positions at Amtrak and the DOT next Tuesday. The committee will hear from Polly Trottenberg, nominated as undersecretary of transportation for policy, and Christopher Beall and Yvonne Burke, both nominated as members of the Amtrak Board of Directors. A committee source wasn’t sure when the panel would vote on the nominations but thought it might be later in December.
Durbin confirms nominee talks under way: The Senate’s No. 2 said talks are underway on moving a package of uncontroversial nominees by the end of the year, starting with judges but potentially extending to others, which could include FAA Administrator nominee Michael Huerta as well as the three above. “Historically, when the president prevails the calendar is moved forward. I don’t know if the Republicans will agree to that,” Majority Whip Dick Durbin told an ever-growing scrum of reporters after MT’s question. “Under most circumstances the president’s nominees move forward after an election.”
SANDY STIRRING: A Senate Commerce subcommittee will hold a hearing next Thursday on how Hurricane Sandy crippled the Northeast's transportation networks, with a focus on damage and disruptions to rail and port infrastructure as well as "the need to reinvest" in those areas. And we hear too that the House T&I panel will hold a hearing on Tuesday on the “Preparedness, Response To and Recovery From Hurricane Sandy.”
MAILBAG — NTSB doesn’t want coasting on testing: The board wrote Coast Guard Commandant Robert Papp on bringing the branch’s drug and alcohol testing standards up to that of the merchant mariners. Read Chairman Debbie Hersman’s letter:http://1.usa.gov/U1gkd7
N.J. writes Obama: The state’s congressional delegation wants the president to submit a request to Congress to rebuild New Jersey better than it was Pre-Sandy. “Sandy devastated New Jersey’s public infrastructure. Every New Jersey Transit rail line was affected by the storm, and highways, bridges, and the tunnels that connect New Jersey to New York closed for days,” the senators and representatives wrote. http://1.usa.gov/10Qj58d
A4A BOOSTS COMMS STAFF: Airlines for America has added four new staffers to its communications shop, the group announced yesterday. Vaughn Jennings will be managing director for government and regulatory communications, Christian Lee and Tressa Mattingly will be social media managers, and Lanie Lamb comes on board as the new communications coordinator, responsible for “day-to-day administration and operational support for the communications team.”
CABOOSE — Non-transit transit maps: MT loves us some transit maps. We even love these featured by Atlantic Cities — they look like transit maps but chart things like the best movies, national parks, web trends and the Mississippi River. Check it out: http://bit.ly/RhaWrK
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Southern Environmental Law Center: Key Virginia Transportation Law Needs Overhaul
RICHMOND, VA – A new report on Virginia's Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA), under which billions of taxpayer dollars are being spent and decades of substantial tolls imposed, warns that the Act lacks adequate safeguards to protect the public interest. While the number of PPTA projects has risen sharply, allowing private entities to partner with the state or localities on transportation projects, the report details how the PPTA has centralized decision-making, limited information given to the public, and often resulted in deals that allow private entities to earn high returns with little risks.
New York Times: Hurricane Sandy vs. Hurricane Katrina
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo made headlines and raised eyebrows Monday when he said that while Hurricane Katrina was deadlier than Hurricane Sandy, the latter storm was “more impactful” over all and “affected many, many more people and places than Katrina.”
New York Times: Hurricane Sandy’s Rising Costs
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s latest request for federal aid to help New York recover from Hurricane Sandy presents a shattering picture of what a giant storm can do to a dense metropolitan area. The total price tag, he said, would be more than $42 billion: $33 billion to repair damaged housing and infrastructure and $9 billion to help protect transit systems, the power network and sewage treatment facilities from future storms.
Transportation Nation: Build Highways or Increase Transit? Planners Tackle Fort Meade Traffic
Planners are looking for ways to improve the commute for the more than 56,000 people currently working at Fort Meade in central Maryland.
Star-Ledger: Another victim of Hurricane Sandy: N.J. Turnpike Authority
Hurricane Sandy left 7-foot tall debris piles and two dozen freight train containers along the New Jersey Turnpike. The piles were between Exits 10 and 14 and the containers were picked up by a tidal surge and dumped along the northbound side of the Turnpike around Exit 12 in Carteret.
Bay Citizen: SFO to return $2.1 million in misspent funds
The Federal Aviation Administration will take back $2.1 million in stimulus funds that it gave to San Francisco International Airport because the money was used improperly, according to the Department of Transportation’s inspector general.
Americans will spend at least 160 hours each year in traffic by 2035.