The U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has approved H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013, which aims to streamline the infrastructure project delivery process.
H.R. 3080 was introduced on Sept. 11, and empowers Congress to authorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop, maintain and support the nation’s ports and waterways infrastructure needs, as well as support flood protection and environmental restoration. The U.S. recently placed 16th in a World Economic Forum ranking of the globe’s best port infrastructure.
“Our bill cuts red tape, reforms the bureaucracy and accelerates project delivery,” said Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the committee, at the hearing. “It sets hard deadlines on the time and cost of studies. It also consolidates or eliminates duplicative or unnecessary studies and requires concurrent reviews. And our bill streamlines environmental reviews.”
The South Carolina Ports Authority commended the committee for passing the bill on to the full House:
“WRRDA will provide an expedited review process to keep projects like Charleston’s Post-45 Harbor Deepening from facing unnecessary delays as they move from study to construction, while also providing needed maintenance funding for emerging harbor projects like Georgetown,” said James Newsome, SCPA’s CEO, in a written statement. “Today’s vote reinforces the importance of authorizing projects that provide critical infrastructure to our nation’s waterways.”
At the same hearing, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure also passed H.R. 3095, a bill introduced on Sept. 12 that would require the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to go through a formal notice and comment rulemaking proceeding when issuing guidance on screening and testing for obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders for drivers of commercial motor vehicles.
FMCSA earlier this week announced that it will approach sleep apnea through a rulemaking, rather than a guidance, regardless of the bill, Politico reported. However, members of the House committee, including co-authors Larry Bucshon, R-Ind., and Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., still pushed to approve the legislation.
“If FMSCA wants to weigh in on this issue then they should go through the proper rulemaking process,” Bucshon said before the hearing. “With such tremendous potential costs to the truck and bus industry, it is critical that we include all the stakeholders, including the medical and trucking communities, in any thorough analysis of fatigue-related crashes. This bill will provide an open and transparent process to evaluate both the costs and benefits of any proposed regulations.”
The American Trucking Associations applauded the committee’s approval of the bill:
“ATA believes that testing alone for obstructive sleep apnea of truck drivers could cost the industry nearly $1 billion,” said Bill Graves, ATA’s president and CEO, in a published remark. “If our industry is to be burdened with such a cost, then the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration owes it to trucking to conduct a full and thorough rulemaking, including collection of scientific data and a cost-benefit analysis.”