WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15) today voted for legislation (H.R. 4348) to extend current funding authority for surface transportation programs through September 30, 2012. The most recent long-term authorization for highway and transit programs -- the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Act (SAFETEA-LU) -- expired at the conclusion of Fiscal Year 2009. Since the expiration of SAFETEA-LU, Congress has passed numerous short-term extensions to ensure the continued development of the nation’s transportation system.
“While I supported the three month extension passed by the House this afternoon, I believe it is absolutely imperative Congress works to establish a sustainable transportation funding structure and streamline the process for the completion of vital projects,” said Rep. Dent. “I am hopeful this short-term extension will provide the House and Senate ample time to pass comprehensive bipartisan legislation that enhances our nation’s infrastructure and provides quality jobs to American workers.”
Included in H.R. 4348 is a provision to advance the development of the critical Keystone XL pipeline project, which would transport energy resources from Alberta, Canada to refineries in the U.S. and create thousands of American jobs. The legislation transfers approval authority for the project from the Department of State to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which would be required to act on permit applications within 30 days. Under H.R. 4348, if a decision from FERC is not issued within the 30 day period, the permit is automatically approved.
“The inclusion of language to advance Keystone XL will prevent the Obama administration from continuing to drag its feet on the development of this extremely important project,” continued Rep. Dent. “Not only will the construction of the pipeline create thousands of American jobs, it will help promote our nation’s energy security by providing reliable energy resources from our trusted ally Canada.”
The bill also included a vital provision to establish the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund, which will be comprised of 80% of financial penalties resulting from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Funds included in the trust will be distributed to affected states to restore ecosystems damaged by the disaster.