July 24, 2008
Email the Editor
Home Page
. Search back issues
. Forward to a Friend
.
. Subscribe/Unsubscribe
Printer Friendly
ENERGY
AGC Advocates for National Energy Solution
TRANSPORTATION
House Approves Highway Trust Fund Fix
House Passes Bridge Reconstruction and Inspection Bill
AGC Runs Ad in Capitol Hill Newspaper, Roll Call
SAFETY
AGC Members Testify on OSHA’s Proposed Standard for Confined Space in Construction

  AGC Advocates for National Energy Solution
In a letter to Senators this week before a vote, AGC CEO Steve Sandherr urged Senators to agree on a national energy strategy that promotes domestic production and facilitates the construction of additional generation, refinery and transmission capacity.  The letter requests a plan which would address not only oil exploration, but increased promotion of our renewable sources, such as wind and hydroelectric energy sources, and further investment in environmentally-friendly nuclear energy.

The letter was sent prior to a procedural vote in the Senate to begin debate on an energy bill, limited only to commodities speculation.  While Senate Republicans have introduced broader legislation relating to supply and demand, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has all but blocked these efforts.  In an effort to show support for a comprehensive solution, the AGC Executive Board held a conference call Thursday with Senate Republican Conference Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who has taken a leadership role in the debate.

AGC joined other business leaders in the Coalition for Affordable American Energy, which sent a letter to the Senate this week for a broad-based national solution.  AGC chapters nationwide are also joining the Coalition.

AGC members are encouraged to write their representatives by logging on to the AGC Legislative Action Center.

For more information, contact Heidi Blumenthal at (202) 547-8892 or blumenthalh@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  House Approves Highway Trust Fund Fix
By a vote of 387-37, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a measure to address the projected Highway Trust Fund deficit in fiscal year 2009.  The bipartisan bill, H.R. 6532, was introduced last week by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) and Committee Ranking Republican John Mica (R-Fla.). 

The bill is identical to the trust fund fix that members of the House and Senate attempted to include on the short-term Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization measure last month in that it would credit the Highway Trust Fund with the $8 billion in highway user fee revenue that was transferred to the General Fund in 1998 as part of TEA-21. Just prior to the vote in the House the Administration issued a statement threatening to veto the legislation.
 
Congress must enact a fix as soon as possible to prevent all states from receiving an estimated 34 percent reduction in their states' federal highway program funding in fiscal year 2009.  Given recent government figures showing a historic reduction in fuel consumption, revenues into the Highway Trust Fund continue to decline further.  AGC worked with its transportation industry colleagues to urge members of Congress to support and co-sponsor the bill.  AGC now turns its attention to the Senate, which must now consider the bill.

For more information, contact Karen Bachman at (202) 547-4733 or bachmank@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  House Passes Bridge Reconstruction and Inspection Bill
With the one-year anniversary of the August 1, 2007 collapse of a span of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis approaching, the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday approved a bill (H.R. 3999) that would authorize spending of an additional $1 billion for states to help them address their most at-risk bridges.  The bill strengthens and standardizes bridge inspection procedures, requires annual inspections for structurally-deficient bridges and directs states to establish a risk-based priority system for bridge improvement projects.  Amendments passed by voice vote included a requirement for states to consider emergency routes when prioritizing deficient bridge rehabilitation and a requirement for the U.S. DOT Secretary to report to Congress within 15 days of a bridge closure.  Another amendment included a tunnel-inspection program to the bill.

In 2007, Congress appropriated an additional $1 billion in fiscal year 2008 federal-aid highway funds specifically for state bridge repair and reconstruction efforts.  Despite national attention to the state of the nation’s bridges – of which a quarter have structural problems or fail to meet design standards – the system still needs an infusion of an estimated $65 billion to repair or replace a significant number of bridges over 50 years old.  AGC will work with the Senate to pass this bill in the remaining months of the 110th Congress.

For more information, contact Karen Bachman at (202) 547-4733 or bachmank@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  AGC Runs Ad in Capitol Hill Newspaper, Roll Call
AGC today ran an ad in a special transportation issue section of the popular Capitol Hill newspaper, Roll Call.  Featuring an image of a deteriorating bridge, the ad highlights the continuing challenges facing the nation’s road and bridge network and calls on Congress to increase investment for the U.S. transportation system.  The ad, which can be viewed here, ran the same day the House approved a bill that would provide an additional $1 billion for bridge repair and reconstruction on the National Highway System, and one day after the House overwhelmingly approved legislation to address the projected Highway Trust Fund deficit.  The Senate must still act on both bills. 

For more information, contact Karen Bachman at (202) 547-4733 or bachmank@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  AGC Members Testify on OSHA’s Proposed Standard for Confined Space in Construction
Representatives from AGC’s Philadelphia Builders’ Chapter, AGC of Texas and members Art Daniel (AR Daniel Construction Services Inc., Cedar Hill, Texas) and Tommy Lee (W S Bellows Construction Corp, Houston, Texas) testified at a public hearing on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed standard for confined spaces in construction on July 22-23 at the U.S. Department of Labor.

L to R: AGC members Tommy Lee and Art Daniel testify before an OSHA panel on the proposed standard for confined spaces in construction.

AGC is concerned the new rule will place contractors in confusing, burdensome and complicated situations.  Many construction firms working in confined spaces already comply with the general industry standard or the underground construction standards and have completed projects without incident.  In addition, OSHA’s cost analysis for the proposed rule is based on nearly decade old data. AGC is conducting an industry survey to gauge the cost impact of the rule, but approximates the cost to be $124.5 million per year, as opposed to OSHA’s analysis which estimated $74.8 million per year.
 
OSHA will consider testimony from this hearing and other submittals before issuing the final standard on confined space in construction.
 
For more information, contact Michele Myers at (703) 837-5410 or myersm@agc.org. [ return to top ]