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Archive for the ‘Policy’ Category

An Economic Analysis of Transportation Infrastructure Investment

Friday, July 18th, 2014
Why Congress Needs to Reauthorize Funding to Rebuild America

THE WHITE HOUSE: NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL & THE PRESIDENT’S COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISORS
A high quality transportation network is vital to a top performing economy. Investments by previous generations of Americans – from the Erie Canal in 1807, to the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, to the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s and 1960s – were instrumental in putting the country on a path for sustained economic growth, productivity increases, an unrivaled national market for good and services, and international competitiveness. But today, current estimates indicate that America’s transportation infrastructure is not keeping pace with demands or the needs of our growing economy, for today or for future generations.

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States’ Transportation Revenue Initiatives Help to Compensate for an Absence of Congressional Action on Long-Term Funding

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No.
While transportation stakeholders and the Washington press corps focus on the impending insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund and bemoan the fact that the House-Senate agreement to replenish the Trust Fund provides only short-term funding ($10.8 billion) through May 2015, they are ignoring developments outside the Beltway that go a long way toward compensating for an absence of congressional action on long-term funding. For in fact, individual states, far from sitting idly by, are responding to the fiscal uncertainties in Washington by stepping up and raising additional revenue to meet their transportation needs.

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Wasting Our Waterways: Toxic Industrial Pollution and Restoring the Promise of the Clean Water Act

Friday, July 11th, 2014
Figure ES-1. Industrial Discharges of Toxic Chemicals to Waterways by Watershed Region

ENVIRONMENT CALIFORNIA
Industrial facilities continue to dump millions of pounds of toxic chemicals into America’s rivers, streams, lakes and ocean waters each year – threatening both the environment and human health. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), toxic discharges from industrial facilities are responsible for polluting more than 17,000 miles of rivers and about 210,000 acres of lakes, ponds and estuaries nationwide.

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AASHTO’s “Nation at a Crossroads” Infographic Calls for Action

Thursday, July 10th, 2014
Without Federal Investment States Can

The infographic reveals a slew of alarming facts and predictions centering on the depletion of MAP-21 funding by Fall of 2014, which will lead to states being responsible for 100% of transportation funding. Did you know that, already, 45% of Americans don’t have access to transit? Did you know that 1 in 4 of our bridges is in need of significant repair? While states have come up with some viable funding mechanisms of their own, it’s clearly time for the Fed to step in and replenish this vital source of transportation funding.

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Baltimore, MD: Building Resilience Through Immigration

Thursday, July 10th, 2014
Baltimore, MD: Building Resilience Through Immigration

Two years ago, the city of Baltimore, in a bid to reverse population decline, announced a plan to draw 10,000 people to the city. One of the key demographics would be immigrants. Here, we look at why immigration is well-suited to helping a city bounce back from the shock of depopulation.

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Making the Grade: A National Six-Point Plan to Regain America’s Infrastructure Leadership

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
SPECIFIC ECONOMIC IMPACTS BY 2020

AUTODESK
Making The Grade represents the consensus of many who attended the meeting “Executing a Sustainable Infrastructure Vision” convened by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) initially in 2012. The Making the Grade roundtable that followed in 2013 was comprised of experts from 45 companies representing the scope of the U.S. infrastructure industry—planning, engineering, construction, and technology—and their counterparts from local governments, professional organizations, think tanks, financial advisors, academic institutions, and others. Participants agreed to an ambitious goal: describe a new vision and path forward for regaining and sustaining America’s public infrastructure leadership.

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Los Angeles Parking Meter Reform, Reasonable Edition

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

The LA Times Editorial Board published a post this morning imploring city officials to come up with a more just system, so I’m throwing out a few ideas. My motivation here is two-fold. First, to find a solution that maintains high enough fees to discourage scofflaws because parking turnover is important to both consumers and businesses — $23 simply doesn’t meet that requirement. Second, to minimize the frustration of excessive fines resulting from the rare, honest mistake, and to reduce the confusion that leads to those mistakes. If you get three parking tickets a month, it’s you that needs to re-evaluate, not the city. Parking tickets have a place in a congested, highly urbanized city, but they must be perceived as fair if they’re to survive. Here are my recommendations:

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The Highway Trust Fund and Surface Transportation Programs in the Federal Budget

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
Figure 1: Receipts, Outlays, and Balance or Shortfall for the Highway Trust Fund Under CBO’s April 2014 Baseline

CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE
The federal government spends more than $50 billion per year on surface transportation programs, mostly in the form of grants to state and local governments. Much of this spending is for highways and mass transit programs financed through the Highway Trust Fund. Those programs have an unusual treatment in the federal budget, and the way they are classified in the budget facilitates the spending of more money from the trust fund than there are dedicated revenues to support such spending. Those revenues come from excise taxes on the sale of motor fuels, trucks and trailers, and truck tires, and from taxes on the use of certain kinds of vehicles.

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The Untapped Potential of California’s Water Supply

Monday, June 30th, 2014
Figure 2. Total water supply and demand changes with four drought response strategies, in thousand acre-feet per year, by hydrologic region

PACIFIC INSTITUTE
NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL

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The Water-Energy Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014
Figure ES.1. Hybrid Sankey diagram of 2011 U.S. interconnected water and energy flows.

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
Present day water and energy systems are tightly intertwined. Water is used in all phases of energy production and electricity generation. Energy is required to extract, convey, and deliver water of appropriate quality for diverse human uses, and then again to treat wastewaters prior to their return to the environment. Historically, interactions between energy and water have been considered on a regional or technology-by-technology basis. At the national and international levels, energy and water systems have been developed, managed, and regulated independently.

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