Engineering Inc. - May/June 2007 - (Page 10)

James Oberstar ACEC Interview: COngressman AS CHAIRMAN OF THe pOWeRFUl House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, James Oberstar (D-Minn.) plays a critical role in determining the level of federal investment in our nation’s highways, airports, ports and inland waterways. In this exclusive interview, Oberstar offers his perspectives on the Water Quality Financing Act, WRDA reauthorization and the challenge facing the Highway Trust Fund. ACEC President Dave Raymond: Thank you for your leadership in securing passage of the Water Quality Financing Act (H.R. 720). Because this House vote is the first in over a decade to significantly expand the federal water program, can you talk about the importance of this legislation, as well as its prospects for passage in the Senate? Congressman James Oberstar: Unfortunately, the Bush administration has steadily reduced funding for the nation’s water infrastructure over the last several years. In fact, the F.Y. 2008 budget proposal contained a $200 million reduction. State and local governments have spent 10 ENGINEERING INC. MAY / JUNE 2007 billions of dollars in improving water quality, and the federal government must keep its commitment to this partnership and to investing in the nation’s water infrastructure systems. The Water Quality Financing Act of 2007 is a long overdue measure that addresses the nation’s water infrastructure needs. H.R. 720 offers increased flexibility that will benefit economically disadvantaged and small municipalities, such as allowing extended loan repayments (30 years, rather than 20) and additional subsidies (such as principal forgiveness and negative interest loans) for eligible communities. It also contains provisions to require communities to plan for capital replacement needs and to develop and implement an asset management plan for the repair and maintenance of infrastructure that is being financed. We have worked at least 11 years to replenish the State Revolving Fund so that states and local communities can expand their capacity to deal with wastewater, but reauthorizing this vital program has been delayed in the past six Congresses. However, because of sustained bipartisan support in the 110th Congress, we were able to quickly bring the bill to the House floor for consideration, and I am hopeful that the Senate will take up similar legislation in the near future. ACEC Chairman-elect Orrin ‘Mac’ MacMurray: ACEC has long favored a sustainable funding source for water projects, and we were particularly supportive of the provision in H.R. 720 to require a Government Accountability Office study on the establishment of a clean water infrastructure trust fund. How do you see this issue moving forward? Oberstar: No study related to a clean water infrastructure trust fund will be initiated until the legislation is enacted. PhotograPhy: Forrest MacCorMaCk

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Engineering Inc. - May/June 2007

Table of Contents
From ACEC to You
News & Notes
Market Watch
Legislative Ac tion
Interview with Congressman James Oberstar
Port Security
Water: Managing our Precious Commodity
Engineering Excellence Awards
“Smart” Concrete
Business Insights
Members in the News
One on One

Engineering Inc. - May/June 2007

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