At a luncheon focused on infrastructure, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and Rep. James Lankford said the transportation bill passed in June will mean streamlined processes and more local control for Oklahoma.
The event Tuesday afternoon was hosted by the lobbyist group TRUST — Transportation Revenues Used Strictly for Transportation — at the Association of Oklahoma General Contractors building just northeast of the state Capitol.
Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said by now most everyone in the room knew the details of the roughly $100 billion federal transportation bill that was approved by the House and Senate, extending spending through 2014.
Instead, he spoke about the many issues faced in Washington when it comes to adequately funding the nation's needs for roads and bridges.
“We had surpluses for all those years,” said Inhofe, who has served in the Senate since 1994. “And two things happened as a result of that: first of all the sensational appetite for members of congress to go after the pots of money for something that they wanted to spend money on. And the second thing is … the CAFE standards and all these environmentalist weirdos who are trying to do away with fossil fuels altogether and they put us in a position where we're not burning the fuel so we're not getting the revenue. That is where we got into this problem.”
Transportation is funded through a tax on fuel, and both Inhofe and Lankford bemoaned the fact that more fuel-efficient vehicles and a move to alternative energy sources have cut into the funding for the nation's infrastructure. The two congressmen were instrumental in negotiating the transportation bill known as MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century).