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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Congress, president sign off on transit-related bills


Congress has adjourned for the year, but not before taking action on several key pieces of transit-related legislation.

Last week, members of Congress approved the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 (H.R. 2764), a $555 billion omnibus appropriations bill that includes $9.5 billion for public transportation — an all-time-high for transit funding. The appropriation is $517 million higher than FY2007’s figure, but falls $240 million short of levels authorized under SAFETEA-LU. The legislation also appropriates $400 million for public transportation and rail security, a $125 million increase compared with FY2007. Language in the bill requires that at least $25 million of the funds be earmarked for Amtrak security.

President Bush signed H.R. 2764 into law on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works earlier this month approved the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2007 (S. 2191), which calls for large-scale emitters of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, such as utility companies and manufacturers, to submit emission allowances. Transit agencies would receive a portion of the generated revenue.

And on Dec. 19, the president signed into law the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which creates a new Energy Efficiency and Conservation Grants Program. If funded by Congress in subsequent appropriations bills, the program would provide block grants to state and local government s to invest in energy-efficient activities. Among eligible uses of the grants is investment in local public transportation infrastructure.