government

In an effort to avoid filing the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, officials in Alabama’s Jefferson County extended until mid-September talks with creditors holding $3.14 billion in debt incurred after officials borrowed money to fix their troubled sewer system and then entered into a number of complicated and corruption-laced refinancing deals that backfired in 2007 with the mortgage lending crisis. Those schemes also resulted in the conviction of a number of local officials and businessmen.

On Aug. 30, the National Transportation Safety Board issued its final report on the fatal pipeline explosion in San Bruno, CA, that occurred on Sept. 9, 2010. The report named Pacific Gas & Electric's "lax approach to pipeline safety" and the failure of overseeing bodies to check that approach as the main factors in a preventable accident.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau announced recently that seven communities and one county have been approved to receive low-interest loans for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements.

Less than a year ago, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) launched I Make America, a national grassroots campaign to increase jobs for America's equipment manufacturers. The message of I Make America is simple: the goal is to create a new manufacturing policy that creates jobs by rebuilding and modernizing America's infrastructure, and by helping farmers and manufacturers sell their products to new markets around the world.

In a meeting held in May with Senators at the U.S. Capitol, Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), called on Congress to address the urgent need to rebuild America’s infrastructure and to actively pursue innovative funding approaches to finance this critical investment without increasing the deficit.

In the keynote address to the 2011 Pennsylvania Infrastructure Summit, Pennsylvania American Water President Kathy L. Pape said recently that expecting government bailouts is not a realistic, long-term solution to fix aging water and wastewater systems, which require tens of billions of dollars of capital investment.

The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water) Board of Directors has approved the Authority's largest contract to date, for the design and construction of a storage and conveyance tunnel as part of the Clean Rivers Project.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) appears ready to propose a new standard on silica exposure which would have a major impact on underground construction companies.

The EPA sewer and drinking water construction budgets for the current fiscal 2011 year dropped precipitously in the final budget passed by Congress. Fiscal 2011 actually started last Oct. 1 but Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate had been unable to agree on a budget.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation recently announced that Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV) have introduced legislation to improve pipeline safety efforts nationwide.

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