New Jobs Bill Has Infrastructure Funding Provision; pipeline safety issues crop up; GHG reporting

May 2010 Vol. 65 No. 5

It looks like Congress will give cities and counties some new flexibility in funding drinking water and sewer projects. The Small Business and Infrastructure Jobs Tax Act of 2010 (H.R. 4849) that passed in the House, 246 - 178 on March 24, has a provision which allows states to issue private activity bonds for water projects without counting the value of those bonds toward state caps.

Congress has already exempted airports, intercity high-speed rail and solid waste disposal sites from these bond caps. Also, the provision allows Indian tribal governments to issue tax-exempt private activity bonds for the furnishing of water or sewage facilities.

The provision was sponsored by Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ). He says, "We need to be as proactive and creative as possible in creating jobs and improving our water systems. Water main breaks and job losses generate news stories on a regular basis, and taxpayers cannot be expected to foot the entire bill for all of the repairs and updates that our water infrastructure needs. That is why this legislation will allow access to capital needed for water system upgrades."

A second provision extends some of the tax preferences awarded to both investors and local and state governments for Build America bonds, which can be used for water projects. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 made changes to the Build America Bond program through 2011 to lower borrowing costs for state and local governments. H.R. 4849 extends the ARRA modifications through June 30, 2013.

Pipeline safety issues crop up

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has recently shown some concern about two pipeline safety issues: weld problems with new, large-diameter pipelines and difficulties doing integrity assessments on cased pipeline in high consequence areas. In the first case, PHMSA just issued an advisory bulletin; in the second it held a workshop in late April to reinforce the guidelines it recently issued.