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Senate Committee Approves Highway Infrastructure Bill – Senator Ernst Highlights Need For Biofuels Infrastructure


The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved a five-year surface transportation bill known as the “America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA) of 2019.”

Of particular concern for PMAA, Section 1401 of the bill would create a $1 billion grant program for states to deploy electric vehicle, hydrogen and natural gas vehicle charging stations along designated alternative fuel corridors. NACS and SIGMA said this week that the bill could allow electric utilities to double dip in which they charge their rate paying customers to expand EV infrastructure while also taking grant money to subsidize the same project. PMAA is also concerned that the grant program does not provide for the equitable distribution of funds or account for other investment required for infrastructure changes that may be needed to accommodate EV and alternative fueling equipment such as upgrades to site utilities, adding land, and expanding paved areas and operating costs. In addition, the focus on alternative fuel corridors will result in a preference for grants to companies that have multiple sites distributed along major transportation routes. As with other grants for alternative fuels, small to medium c-stores will be placed at a competitive disadvantage.

Meanwhile, Senator Rounds (R-SD) and Senator Ernst (R-IA) suggested adding biofuels and propane infrastructure to Section 1401, but the Senators did not formally introduce an amendment. The Senators argued that the current language would more greatly benefit coastal, high-income drivers without assisting biofuel producers.

Finally, PMAA and FUELIowa are pleased that the legislation does not include language that would allow commercialization of rest areas. PMAA and FUELIowa are strongly opposed to rest area commercialization and members have successfully killed all attempts over the last decade that would roll-back the prohibition on commercial services at rest areas.

Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) has urged Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to bring the bill up for a vote before the end of the year. Before that can happen however, other committees will need to pass their portions of the bill, with the biggest challenge being the Senate Finance Committee, which must determine how to pay for the measure. The current surface transportation authorization expires on September 30, 2020. It is unlikely Congress will approve a highway bill that is funded before the November 2020 Presidential election.


Transportation Federal

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