Posted by Matt Dempsey email@example.com
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Editorial: Odd couple Inhofe, Boxer get transporation bill approved
Published: 7/5/2012 2:22 AM
Last Modified: 7/5/2012 3:38 AM
Link to Editorial
Despite their political differences, and they are great, conservative Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe and liberal California Sen. Barbara Boxer often work well together. They did just that last week when they joined forces to push through the much-needed transportation bill with little time to spare before it expired.
Inhofe has long been a strong supporter of transportation funding, knowing just how much it is needed, to maintain the country's infrastructure and to keep Americans working. This bill saves almost 3 million jobs that might have been lost right at the height of the construction season.
Boxer, the chairwoman of the Senate Public Works Committee, and Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the panel, crafted the Senate version of the bill that will sustain current funding of $120 billion for 27 months.
Left out of the bill were two anti-environmental provisions - one that would have approved the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada and another that would have prevented regulation of toxic coal ash waste from power plants.
The Keystone pipeline, which also would add needed jobs to the work force, is likely to be approved when environmental questions in Nebraska are addressed. In fact, part of the pipeline already is approved.
Preventing regulation of toxic coal ash waste is simply good common sense.
The final bill also included a rider to establish a Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund and to earmark 80 percent of civil penalties levied against British Petroleum to restoring the coastal ecosystem's long-term health.
To help fund the measure, the bill eliminates two-thirds of the programs that were a part of the last transportation bill in 2005. Some, such as money for bike paths and pedestrian walkways, while easy to support during better economic times, must be expendable now.
Still, the country must at some point begin to explore alternative transportation modes, to preserve our infrastructure and diminish our dependence on foreign oil.
The fate of future transportation bills must be addressed soon. A dependable funding mechanism must be found. The transportation system relies on an 18.4 cents-per-gallon gasoline tax that hasn't increased since 1993.
That is for a future discussion in Congress. For now, precious jobs have been saved by the alliance of two opposites in the Senate, Inhofe and Boxer.
It's nice to see some compromise.