Who Still Likes the House Transpo Bill? Big Oil, Big Truck, and Big Box Retail

The House has finished marking up its transportation bill in what shaped up to be a very Groundhog Day-esque ordeal of unending, repetitive partisan theater (if you missed it, follow coverage on twitter).

Spoiler alert. Photo: ##http://image.truckinweb.com/f/8122697+w750+st0/0601tr_03_z+truck_fuel_economy_tips+oil_rig_pump.jpg##TruckinWeb##

The centerpiece was yesterday’s/last night’s/this morning’s Transportation & Infrastructure committee markup, where members debated more than 80 amendments for over 18 hours before finally approving Chairman Mica’s bill, 29-24, at about 3:00 a.m. Not one Democrat voted for it, and only one Republican — Tom Petri of Wisconsin — voted against it. Energy and Financing titles were also approved by their respective committees.

Streetsblog has already pointed out that there’s plenty to dislike in the bill, especially for pedestrians, cyclists, city-dwellers, transit riders, and the environmentally-conscious. But believe it or not, there are a few groups out there who still like this bill a whole lot. In fact, at today’s markup in the Ways and Means Committee, Chairman Dave Camp submitted for the record a letter of support from over 50 organizations.

It’s worth noting that the list of supporters is getting smaller. The T&I bill may have enjoyed the support of AASHTO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but both have now opposed the Ways & Means committee’s financing title. In fact, over 600 organizations have voiced their opposition to that particular bill. However, there are still some hold-outs.

For starters, there’s trucking. Bill Graves, the American Trucking Associations’ CEO, called the bill “a major step forward, not just for trucking, but for all users of our transportation system.” Graves was disappointed when new rules allowing longer, heavier trucks were put off pending further study, saying, “We hope that Congress will see that wasting taxpayer money on further study is not necessary and as this legislation moves forward, enacts these long overdue reforms.”

Then there’s the retail sector. David French, the National Retail Federation’s VP for Government Relations, has said, “Our neglected transportation system has created bottlenecks and inefficiencies in the supply chain that stifle U.S. companies’ ability to grow.” Those “inefficencies” could refer to the same regulations the trucking industry is excited about. But bigger trucks (and longer driver hours, another pet issue of the trucking industry) would mainly benefit the largest shippers — the WalMarts, Home Depots and Best Buys.

And then there is oil industry, who would be able to drill far more freely in Alaska and off the American coast. Speaker Boehner’s inclusion of the Keystone XL pipeline makes the bill even more appealing to the petroleum industry. American Petroleum Institute CEO Jack Gerard believes that most Americans “know America will need more oil. They see the benefits of importing more from Canada while also producing more at home… [Keystone XL] is essential to our nation’s energy future.”

So, more drilling (oil companies make money) and lax regulations (trucking industry makes money) mean slightly lower shipping costs (mega-retailers make money). Big Oil, Big Truck, and Big Box — whose business models each depend on wider highways and sprawl — are the major beneficiaries of this bill.

  • fj

    Boehner’s Last Stand:  House Leader Wants to Kill Transit Funding

    “http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2012/02/03/418084/boehner-house-leader-kill-transit-funding/

  • Anonymous

    “So, more drilling (oil companies make money) and lax regulations (trucking industry makes money) mean slightly lower shipping costs (mega-retailers make money). Big Oil, Big Truck, and Big Box — whose business models each depend on wider highways and sprawl — are the major beneficiaries of this bill.” 

    What have you got against making money, Ben?  It means more investment in jobs and he economy.  Do you have problem with that?

  • fred

      @pchazzz You have a fascinatingly myopic view of this.  It sounds an awful lot like the argument that Wall Street, mortgage brokers, and banks were making prior to their house of cards imploding and wreaking havoc for years on millions of people through no fault of their own.  “We’re making lots of money, so it’s got to be good”, right?  I don’t think those who are unemployed, evicted, foreclosed upon, upside down on their mortgages, etc. would agree with your stance.  Short terms gains for long term liabilities is never a good deal.

  • Joe R.

    @pchazzz:disqus The problem is that taxpayers clean up the mess left by Big Oil, Big Truck, and Big Box, arguably costing more than the taxes on the profits those three entities make. Nothing wrong with making money, but there are better ways to do it than with a system based on conspicuous consumption, waste, and sprawl.

  • So frustrating!

  • @pchazzz, Is the nation really clamoring for more jobs where you drive all the time? 
    If we use railroads instead of trucks, we make even more money because 1) rail transport requires much less fuel and a small fraction of the labor, 2) there is less damage to our bridges and roads, and 3) getting that freight off the highways reduces the risk of death and injury.  Trucking is good for trucking and no one else. 

  • Anonymous

    I’m “Glad” to see that West Coast off-shore drilling is included because that may be the straw that breaks this camel’s back.

  • Anonymous

    Good critiques of my comments directed at Ben Goldman.  With regard to Jett Marks’ comments, trains are most effective at carrying bulk cargo long distances.  For smaller, high value shipments, or those which require a short shipping time, trucks are more appropriate.  Just in time inventory strategies adopted by many businesses require that supplies be delivered at the exact time they are delivered to reduce storage and inventory costs. Also, many towns are not located on rail lines, so you need trucks. That expensive, Cannondale bicycle you ride was delivered in a truck! 

    Joe R: it would be interesting to see if the reduced cost to the consumer from Big Box is offset by the costs you mention.  “Conspicuous consumption” implies wealth, but the true beneficiaries of big box stores are the working poor who cannot afford to pay a premium for “sustainable” (read expensive) products.

  • fj

    re:  pchazzz, “What have you got against money . . . Do have problem with that?”

    Yes, I have a huge problem with people’s work and industry that is essentially sociopathic with outcomes completely insensitive to the pain and hardship that they cause others.

    Yes, I have a problem with that for people who work for big tobacco since smoking is projected to kill one billion people by 2050.

    Yes, those who work for the fossil fuel industries directly killing millions of people each year producing toxic pollution and deadly environments, massive government corruption, wars and civil strife, with huge monopolistic strangleholds on $trillions in resources which could otherwise be used to save and improve the lives of literally billions of people, serving as the “Merchants of Doubt” longtime stopping timely action on rapidly accelerating climate change which is projected to take a huge human toll; the list goes on.

    If you do not even understand this you can start with “The Dummies Guide to Climate Science” http://bit.ly/hbHxCm and when this sinks in move on to “Merchants of Doubt”.

    Hope this answers your question.

  • Anonymous

    @fj – Wind turbines kill eagles, hawks and other raptors; hydropower disrupts riparian environments, solar power generators have a negative effect on the fragile, desert ecosystems.  I hate to break the news to you, but anything we do has a cost and a benefit.  You could get rid of the fossile fuel industry but the simle fact is that you could put wind turbines on every hill, cover the desert with solar panels, dam every river and you still wouldn’t replace the BTUs and megawatts generated by a power plant.  And as for smoking, no one forces people to smoke.  It’s a voluntary act.  Anyone who smokes knowing the risks takes those consequences on themselves.  And as for “rapidly accelerating climate change” , UAH AMSU has announced that the January 2012 global temperature anomaly was negative, -0.09 °C. The month was cooler than their average January, so chill out, dude!

  • fj

    pchazzz, Apparently “The Dummies Guide to Climate Change” has not sunk in yet.  Keep at, you never know.

  • fj

    Here’s another story about jobs, big oil, and corruption much in common with difficulties getting good safe transportation at a reasonable cost resulting from bad governance allowed to persist in large part by mainstream media shams.

    Do Americans Really Support Shipping Toxic Sludge (Strip-Mined from a Forest) Through a Major Aquifer for Export To China?

    http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2012/02/07/419488/framing-polls-media-keystone-xl-tar-sands-oil-pipeline/

    @climateprogress

  • It’s not about making money in the abstract: ours could be an even wealthier country if our leaders didn’t sink our precious-few investment dollars into protecting an inefficient, wasteful status quo.

    Meanwhile, it figures that these virulently “pro-life” GOP leaders should put all our lives at risk by putting drowsy drivers at the helm of monstrously huge trucks, all while gutting safety funding for the most vulnerable road users.

  • E O

    Del. Cox, who owns a trucking company (let’s call him “Little Truck”) is most responsible for killing bike-ped bills in the Virginia state legislature. 

  • Truck to play, especially for those who need their needs and cargo transport operations, an important part of. There are so many types and sizes of trucks are usually decided how to use them can. Utility vehicles, often come to mind, these are usually large trucks, size and even large-scale.

  • Jessica Lacy

    American Truck group provide their program customer a
    unlimited mileage warranty which is quite challenge for this they have hired best mechanics in the industry.
    Company’s mechanic shops are completely dedicated to their customer they didn’t
    take outside work. . With 16 bays in Gulfport, Mississippi,
    8 bays in Atlanta, Georgia and now a
    proud new addition of 8 bays in Phoenix, Arizona, their
    mechanic shops are available across the nation.

    http://americantruckgroupphoenix.com/

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Transpo Bills Delayed in House and Senate as Congress Enters Recess

|
Both houses of Congress are in recess this week, putting off their mountain of unfinished transportation business until next Monday. The momentum carrying transportation bills forward in each chamber has eroded recently. Last week, the House split its transportation bill — the one that eliminates dedicated funding for transit, bicycling, and walking — into three […]

Obama Takes a Stand, Threatens to Veto House Transpo Bill

|
The White House issued a statement yesterday that spelled out President Obama’s opposition to the House transportation bill, also known as H.R. 7. The administration’s statement of policy, which coincided with the House Rules Committee hearing on H.R. 7, takes a stand in defense of transit, safety, and the environment: H.R. 7 does not reflect […]

How the House and Senate Transportation Bills Changed Overnight

|
The sun rose this morning on a landscape considerably different from the one described by not one but two articles Streetsblog published yesterday. Senate Bill Gets Bigger, Better, But Harder to Move Senator Harry Reid took a lot of business into his own hands yesterday, unveiling his updated version of the Senate’s “two year” bill (it’s […]

Blumenauer: Let’s Stop Hiding in Fear of a Mileage Fee

|
In June, the House of Representatives voted to ban U.S. DOT from even studying the viability of switching from the gas tax to a vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) fee. But the tide may be turning: The sponsor of the amendment, Rep. Chip Cravaack, has been ousted from Congress, the amendment itself is on the skids, and a new […]