Transportation Bill Passes With Fly Ash Amendment
19 April 2012
By Joselyn King, Political Writer, With AP Dispatches
WHEELING - The U.S. House on Wednesday voted to extend federal
transportation funding through September, a measure that included
Rep. David B. McKinley's "fly ash" bill and another provision
permitting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
House Resolution 4348 was approved by a vote of 293-127, with
local Reps. McKinley and Shelley Moore Capito, both R-W.Va.; Bob
Gibbs and Bill Johnson, both R-Ohio; and Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., all
voting in favor.
The measure extends funding from the federal Highway Trust Fund
through Sept. 30.
Legislation to construct the Keystone XL pipeline - which would
transport oil produced from Canadian tar sands to Port Arthur,
Texas - was previously blocked by President Barack Obama.
The White House has threatened to veto the GOP-backed
transportation bill passed Wednesday, which it says bypasses
longstanding practices for the approval of cross-border pipelines.
The veto statement noted that a final pipeline route has yet to be
McKinley's amendment in the transportation bill seeks to stop the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating fly ash as a
hazardous substance. Previously called the "Coal Residuals Reuse
and Management Act," House Resolution 2273 initially passed the
House as stand-alone legislation last fall.
Since that time, McKinley's measure has sat idle in the Senate. He
attached his bill to the transportation bill in an effort to bring
it up for discussion in the Senate.
Fly ash is a byproduct of coal-fired power plants and is often
utilized in building and highway construction. If the EPA were to
prohibit the use of fly ash in road pavement, the cost of road
construction would increase by at least 10 percent, according to
He called for Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, both D-W.Va.,
to stand up for the transportation bill and his fly ash measure
when it goes before the Senate.
"This is about protecting jobs and maximizing government
construction dollars," McKinley said. "More than 316,000 jobs will
be saved if this provision is adopted. We have done our part in
fighting for these jobs and ensuring we keep costs down on road
construction projects. Now, we're looking to the Senate and its
leadership to do the same."
He indicated he isn't certain how it will be received in the
"A lot of it depends on the Senate leadership and those in West
Virginia as well," said Jim Forbes, spokesman for McKinley.
Democrats have solidly opposed the GOP transportation plan, saying
it undermines environmental protections, penalizes union workers
and doesn't spend enough money to meet highway and transit
Instead, Democrats have unsuccessfully pressed House Republicans
to bring up a bipartisan, $109 billion transportation bill passed
by the Senate earlier this year.
Lawmakers in both parties said the Senate bill would likely pass
the House, but possibly with more Democratic than Republican
votes, an awkward prospect for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
That gave rise to the House GOP's newest tactic - trying to
trigger a formal legislative conference with the Senate without
actually having passed their own long-term legislation.
But there is concern in Republican ranks that by using what is
effectively a shell bill, the Senate will have the advantage in
negotiations on a broad array of transportation policies.
"Are we going to support the Senate bill? Absolutely not," Johnson
said at a conservative gathering the day before the House vote.