House Dems to highway conferees: Steer clear of environmental provisions

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The provisions labeled by the SEEC as "anti-environment" include a mandate forcing the approval of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, a revision in requirements for transportation projects to comply with National Environmental Protection Act and a ban on the Environmental Protection Agency classifying waste produced by coal power plants as hazardous materials.

The SEEC said the environmental provisions "have no place in the debate to invest in our nation's deteriorating transportation infrastructure.

"We compel you to focus on investments to modernize our infrastructure and transportation network instead of policy riders that will hurt Americans' health, their energy security and their communities," the group wrote. 

The conference committee that is considering the highway and transit funding legislation is attempting to find a compromise between a two-year, $109-billion transportation bill that was passed by the Senate with two temporary extensions of current funding that were approved by the House.

The House has passed an extension of current transportation funding beyond the scheduled June 30 deadline, which would carry highway spending through Sept. 30. But in order for that measure to become law, it would have to also be approved by the Senate.

Lawmakers have begun hinting that the conference committee may not meet its deadline for reaching a compromise.