My Committee was focused mainly on the problem of aging road and bridge systems. Missouri is only one of many states that are finding their interstate systems in sore need of repair or replacement. The U.S has a 27,000-mile core network of interstate highways. Most of these roads were built in the 50’s as part of the Eisenhower Interstate System. In addition, we have over 4 million additional road miles in this country. Last year the Federal gas tax of 18.4 cents and the diesel tax of 24 cents raised $34 billion dollars. The Federal expenditures for the states was over $50 billion. The Feds are working on some different approaches to funding from their level just as we are. Many different approaches are being tried including outsourcing services such as mowing, and cost sharing projects between the Feds, the States and the Counties. We also explored the ways to increase tax revenues in our states by attracting new businesses, and sustaining and retaining our existing businesses. To attract new business, it is imperative that we have a trained workforce. This qualification is in the top 3 requirements of all site selection criteria. In 1973 only 28% of jobs required post secondary level education. Today 80% of jobs require college or vocational training for an entry-level job. Our Community Colleges and 4 year Institutions in this area have never been more important.
The Energy and Environment Committee was focused on three issues, The EPA rules on Carbon Dioxide emissions, the Waters of the U.S. proposal, and Cyber Security for our Nuclear Facilities. I’ll start with the easy one first. None of our nuclear plants are controlled by digital equipment. The only thing a cyber attack can do to them is take them off line. All of the controls for the plant itself are mechanical systems with multiple backups. The nuclear engineer presenting the program did a great job of explaining how the decisions were made long ago not to trust the safety issues to computers. Good call! I don’t trust the darn things either. The Carbon Dioxide emissions problem is much more complex. We currently have the cleanest coal burning plants in the world but the EPA continues to issue additional regulations that quite frankly, cannot be complied with. The regulators are getting far ahead of the technology and compliance is impossible. This issue will likely remain unresolved until we have a full complement of Supreme Court Justices to decide the case. The Waters of the U.S. proposal is another convoluted issue. This problem is an offshoot of the Clean Water Act of 1972. The 1972 rules are an offshoot of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 which defined a “Navigable Water” as one that is capable of” floating a log”. Now only bureaucracies of the modern era could redefine the law to include any stream of water anywhere in the country as falling under Federal Control. If the rain falling in your backyard flows into a ditch that drains into a creek that ends up in a larger creek that flows into a river, then the Federal Government has the right to stop you from landscaping your yard. We’ve come a long way from floating a log! Needless to say, Legislators on both the State and Federal level are fighting this lunacy. No one wants dirty air or polluted water, but some degree of common sense has to be applied. I saw a proposal yesterday from a World Health group that we impose large taxes on red meat because we are raising too many animals for food and they are increasing carbon dioxide levels (by breathing air and exhaling carbon dioxide) so we should grow more plants and fewer animals! You just can’t make this stuff up!
There is a lot of good work being done by Legislators throughout the country, but remember, we all have to choose our leaders wisely and hold them to the standards we expect of them. I am proud to represent this district and I welcome your comments and suggestions.