Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Chairman Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) voted for passage of a six-year highway bill to reauthorize the nation’s crucial infrastructure and surface transportation programs.
The bill includes several provisions Rep. Denham has worked on throughout his time in Congress. First, language in the bill based on Rep. Denham’s NEPA Reciprocity Act would streamline the environmental review process for local transportation projects, conserving counties and state DOTs’ time, saving communities millions of dollars, and encouraging local project success.
Second, the bill includes a new requirement for oil spill emergency response plans and a provision that goes beyond the DOT’s rule to require that new tank cars carrying flammable liquids have thermal blankets.
Third, the bill includes a provision based on Rep. Denham’s Highways BEE Act, which encourages states and landscape architects designing highway and freeway medians to plant and cultivate pollinator habitats and vegetation. Rep. Denham introduced the Highways BEE Act in June with fellow co-chair of the Congressional Pollinator Caucus Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL). The solution provides much-needed aid to the birds, bats, bees and butterflies that pollinate our food.
The highway bill now moves to conference between the House and Senate. Rep. Denham was named a conferee and will be working with Senate negotiators in the coming weeks to ensure a final bill is signed into law.