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Ernst Scores Wins for Iowa in Historic Bipartisan Transportation Infrastructure Package

Ernst also fought for Iowa’s ethanol producers, raising issue with a grant program that unfairly neglects biofuels, like E15 and E85

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), praised the Committee’s unanimous passage of America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, a historic, bipartisan five-year transportation infrastructure package. She successfully included in the bill her own legislation to help address mobility challenges in rural areas, a provision that gives states the option to use federal highway funding for lock and dam rehabilitation and modernization, and language that directs the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to adopt policies that help deliver highway projects faster.

In support of Iowa’s ethanol producers, Senator Ernst also raised issue with a charging and fueling infrastructure grant program that unfairly neglects biofuels, like E15 and E85. The Senator indicated she would work with her colleagues to address this issue before the legislation is considered by the full Senate.

“Every Iowan—from our farmers and manufacturers, to our families and small businesses—relies on our state’s infrastructure day-in and day-out,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “States, like Iowa, need certainty to be able to deliver the transportation infrastructure projects that keep our people and economy moving. As a member of the Senate EPW Committee, I’m pleased to help unanimously pass this long-term infrastructure package that includes my key provisions to help modernize our locks and dams, help address mobility challenges in rural areas, and ensure our state gets the support we need. This bipartisan bill also cuts Washington red tape so we can deliver key projects faster and at a lower cost to taxpayers—all while creating more jobs and continuing to boost our booming economy.”

Click here to watch Ernst’s remarks at today’s committee in support of Iowa’s ethanol producers, where she raised issue with a grant program that unfairly neglects biofuels.

Senator Ernst successfully secured the following provisions into the bipartisan America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019:

  • The COMMUTE (Connecting Opportunities through Mobility Metrics and Unlocking Transportation Efficiencies) Act – Senator Ernst’s bipartisan legislation establishes  a competitive grant program at the U.S. DOT to develop and provide states, metropolitan planning organizations, and rural planning organizations with accessibility data for use in transportation planning efforts.
  • Lock and Dam Modernization – Allows states to use federal highway funding for lock and dam modernization and rehabilitation projects to address aging and inadequate water infrastructure that threatens the viability of farmers, manufacturers, shippers, and other stakeholders.
  • Highway Funding for Iowa – Ensures Iowa’s share of federal highway funding is maintained  in the new authorization.
  • Faster Project Delivery – Directs the U.S. DOT to improve sharing of categorical exclusions (CEs)—actions that are exempted from the National Environmental Policy Act because they are not deemed to have a significant environmental impact—among agencies. Allowing agencies to apply CEs that are already in place at other agencies will deliver projects faster and at a lower cost.

The package also includes a new $3.265 billion competitive grant program to help states and local entities rehabilitate or replace structurally deficient bridges, a particularly important piece of the bill for Iowa, which currently has the most structurally deficient bridges in the nation.

You can find a summary of the legislation here and a section-by-section of the legislation here.