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          Ports-to-Plains Alliance


          Trump, Congress Eye Possibility of Infrastructure Bill in 2019

          Transportation Topics

          While the new Congress and the White House kick off 2019 in the midst of a partial government shutdown, President Donald Trump and the leadership of the U.S. House and Senate have acknowledged that authorizing funding for infrastructure projects will be atop their legislative priorities.

          After it abandoned its infrastructure agenda shortly after proposing a 10-year, $1.5 trillion plan in February 2018, the White House appears ready to try pushing a plan again this year with a divided legislative branch.

          Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway noted the potential for advancing the policy. Speaking to reporters at the White House on Jan. 3, she said, “We see some of the Democrats making joyful noises about infrastructure and keeping the economy humming and hopefully we can rely upon them.”

          Identifying a long-term source of funding for big-ticket construction and maintenance projects, however, remains elusive. Transportation policymakers rejected the president’s plan due to its significant reliance on private sector backing. They continue to disagree on the best approach for securing dollars into a federal highway account headed toward insolvency in less than three years. As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) put it after the midterm elections, “The question is how are you going to pay for it and that always becomes very challenging because there’s no sort of easy way to pay for infrastructure without impacting an awful lot of Americans.”

          Besides the funding question, the ongoing tense debate over immigration that led Trump to proceed with the partial shutdown also threatens an infrastructure package. If Democrats continue to oppose his efforts for a wall along the southern border, Trump suggested an unwillingness to consider a deal on infrastructure policy in the near future.

          Read on... 


          A New NAFTA

          U.S. Chamber of Commerce

          After 13 months of talks, and a whole lot of ups and downs, the U.S., Mexico, and Canada have reached agreement on a successor to the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The aim of the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is to bring North American trade policy into the 21st century. Negotiators deserve a lot of credit for working through all 34 chapters and dozens of annexes and coming up with a pact that all three nations could agree on – it was no small feat!

          From the beginning of the debate over the future of NAFTA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce agreed it should be modernized. But we also made it clear that we would vigorously oppose any effort to undermine the underlying deal. NAFTA supports the $1 trillion in trade that crosses our borders with Mexico and Canada every year. And this flow of trade supports the livelihoods of 14 million American workers across our country.

          The Chamber’s experts are carefully going through the new agreement with our members to assess its implications for U.S. businesses and our economy. But we already know that negotiators got the most important detail right – they kept the agreement trilateral. For a few fraught weeks it appeared possible that Canada could be left out – an outcome that would have been unacceptable to the private sector and dead on arrival in Congress.

          Early indicators also show numerous wins for U.S. business including on digital trade, intellectual property, financial services, and agricultural trade. In these and other areas, the USMCA is truly a 21st century trade deal. However, the agreement appears to mark a setback on investment protections and access to government procurement opportunities, issues we will continue to work on.

          Read on...


          Statewide Transportation Funding Solution Certified for November Ballot

          The Ports-to-Plains Alliance is part of the Statewide Coalition that helped develop the initiative and bring it to the Colorado ballot in November/

          Proposition 110 Dedicates Sales Tax to Roads, Bridges & Multimodal Projects to Address Congestion, Safety

          The statewide coalition Let’s Go, Colorado today announced that its proposed comprehensive, bipartisan transportation funding solution was certified for the November General Election ballot by the Colorado Secretary of State as Proposition 110.

          “Coloradans deserve a solution to our growing transportation crisis that is guaranteed to generate the revenue to address long-neglected projects in every corner of our state,” said Lone Tree Mayor Jackie Millet, a Republican. “Proposition 110 is the only measure on this year’s ballot that can fund the transportation safety, capacity and mobility improvements that our citizens and businesses are demanding. Plus, it empowers local communities to tackle our toughest transportation challenges. Proposition 110 is the answer Colorado needs.”

          “The Western Slope has been promised transportation solutions for many years, but the reality is that the state funds aren’t there – and won’t be there without the common-sense solution that Proposition 110 offers,” said Christian Reece, Executive Director of Club 20, a non-partisan advocacy coalition for Western Colorado. “We can’t tie our economic future to more promises or proposals driven by narrow ideology. We need a solution that truly addresses transportation problems that have lingered for years, and that requires new, dedicated revenue. It’s basic math and basic common sense. Club 20 strongly supports Proposition 110.”


          Why we’re asking all Coloradans to get behind “Let’s Go”! by Denver South Economic Partnership

          Denver South Economic Partnership is backing Let’s Go Colorado campaign.  Below is their reasoning.

          With the election season well underway in Colorado it can be both confusing and overwhelming trying to keep up with every ballot initiative. We here at Denver South EDP, having done the research and listened to our communities, fully back Let’s Go, Colorado, a new funding source to fix our roads.

          For decades, we have lacked the resources to maintain our roads, highways and local bus routes all across Colorado. We need a statewide solution that ensures local governments have the resources to meet demands, addresses high-priority projects on state highways, and promotes multimodal transportation options that reduce congestion.

          The Let’s Go, Colorado proposal will increase the state’s sales tax an additional .62% on the dollar. This revenue will address longstanding problems with funding transportation projects in the state.

          We sat down with our Managing Director, Lauren Masias, to dive deep into why this topic is so important for all Coloradoans.

          The first thing I see is tax increase, why would anyone want to vote for that?

          LM: A sales tax allows everyone who uses our road to chip in, including tourists. When looking at the actual numbers our proposal only increases the sales tax by .62%, a little more than half a cent on the dollar.

          What will the money be used for?

          LM: If approved by voters, this will generate in excess of $750 MLN/year and the ballot question specifies that 45% is to be used for statewide projects by CDOT, 40% is to be distributed to Local Governments and 15% is to be used to fund ‘multi-modal’ projects anywhere in Colorado.

          In essence, the money will fund critical sate projects to increase safety, make it easier to get around, support multimodal transit and fund local street and highway projects as determined by their leadership.

          That seems like a lot of money, do we really need that much, I thought the gas tax already paid for that?

          LM: State Gasoline Taxes don’t cover anywhere near what the needs are and CDOT has a more than $9B backlog of projects with no funding.

          Click here for complete article.


          Energy sector touts economic, charitable impact

          Cathy Shull serves on the Board of Directors of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance as well as executive director of Pro 15.  Her comments make the connection between transportation and the energy sector in moving equipment and personnel to production areas in Colorado and across the North American Ports-to-Plains region.


          Cathy Shull, executive director of Pro 15, which advocates on behalf of northeastern Colorado, said that as oil and gas production increases, the industry has become more attractive to potential employees seeking the industry’s higher-paying jobs.

          That’s made it difficult for other industries — including dairies and other ag producers — to find and retain workers.

          Shull said that energy development — including wind farms — has brought many ancillary developments to the 15 counties that Pro 15 represents, including new hotels, communities and other amenities.

          She said that the Ports to Plains Alliance, a federal transportation corridor linking Mexico to Canada and including eastern Colorado, would link the oil-and-gas regions of Texas with those of Canada.

          “It will provide a huge boost to our economy in northeastern Colorado,” she said.

          Colorado’s oil and gas sector contributed $31.38 billion into the state’s economy in 2015, with 232,900 jobs, according to a 2017 study by PricewaterhouseCoopers. And part of that annual economic impact is felt by donations to charitable organizations, projected at $5.2 million in 2017.

          The economic impact of the energy sector — and its impact on nonprofits — was the message from two panels at the Energy Summit, Tuesday, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Greeley at Lincoln Park. The event was presented by BizWest.

          “The benefits of oil and gas to Colorado communities are immense,” said Dan Haley, president and chief executive of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, highlighting a soon-to-be-released study of charitable activities by the oil-and-gas sector that found $5.2 million in charitable donations during 2017.

          “This is just what we were able to collect from our members, so you know that that number is much higher,” he said.

          Haley sat on a panel titled, “In the Community,” highlighting the impact of the oil-and-gas sector on nonprofits. The panel also included Ray Tschillard, director of the Poudre Learning Center; Bob O’Connor, executive director of the Weld Food Bank; and Susan Fakharzadeh, senior manager, community relations at PDC Energy Inc. and chairwoman of the Boys and Girls Club. The panel was moderated by Craig Rasmuson, vice president, community relations, SRC Energy Inc.

          Haley referenced a snapshot of charitable activities by oil-and-gas companies in May:

          Read on…


          Our American Infrastructure: America's Leaders in Their Own Words (Video)

          Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

          Our infrastructure is the backbone of our economy. In this video, Chairman Shuster welcomes luminaries from the past who were instrumental in championing infrastructure investment. Watch Adam Smith, President Lincoln, President Eisenhower and President Reagan explain in their own words why investments in infrastructure were just as important in their time, as they are today.



          Texas, By Itself, Is Now The World’s Third Largest Oil Producer

          The rise of Texas, which is also home to the Eagle Ford oilfield in the state’s south, shows how the shale oil revolution has reshaped the global energy landscape. The United States is pumping more oil than ever before, making it less reliant on the turbulent Middle East for imports.

          The Hayride

          That’s not a typo. It’s the truth about the world’s most dynamic energy superpower, and what the Eagle Ford and Permian Basin have done for Texas’ oil industry.

          Don’t mess with Texas. It’s a global oil superpower.

          The shale oil boom has brought a gold rush mentality to the Lone Star State, which is home to not one but two massive oilfields.

          Plunging drilling costs have sparked an explosion of production out of the Permian Basin of West Texas. In fact, Texas is pumping so much oil that it will surpass OPEC members Iran and Iraq next year, HSBC predicted in a recent report.

          If it were a country, Texas would be the world’s No. 3 oil producer, behind only Russia and Saudi Arabia, the investment bank said.

          “It’s remarkable. The Permian is nothing less than a blessing for the global economy,” said Bob McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group, a consulting firm.

          The hyper growth out of Texas is needed because oil prices have risen sharply and major players like Saudi Arabia are quickly maxing out their production.

          Much of the excitement in Texas centers around the Permian Basin. Some oil execs believe the amount of oil in the Permian rivals Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar Field, the world’s largest conventional oilfield.

          Rapid technological advances have dramatically brought down the cost of pumping oil everywhere, especially out of the Permian. Wells there can be profitable below $40 a barrel.

          Read on…


          House GOP chairman introduces draft of infrastructure plan

          “This discussion draft does not represent a complete and final infrastructure bill. It is meant to reignite discussions amongst my colleagues, and I urge all Members to be open-minded and willing to work together in considering real solutions that will give America the modern day infrastructure it needs," Shuster said.

          The Hill

          Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, released a draft of a long-awaited infrastructure plan on Monday that addresses possible funding sources for a number of potential projects, and levies taxes on multiple fuel sources.

          The bill calls for significant federal investment in infrastructure projects and grant programs through at least 2021. It includes billions of dollars in grant funding, as well as trillions in appropriations for projects of national significance, though the numbers — along with the rest of the proposal — are subject to change.

          To provide at least partial funding, the draft calls for a 15-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline and a 20-cent-per-gallon tax on diesel. The increases would be phased in over a 3-year period. At that point, the fees would be indexed to inflation before they are ultimately eliminated in September 2028.

          Shuster's plan includes "corresponding increases in similar user fees on alternative fuels," such as a 10 percent tax on the wholesale price of bicycle tires on adult bikes, as well as a 10 percent tax on the price of electric car batteries.

          Read on…

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