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Inhofe Commits to Highway Bill

Incoming chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) outlined his top two priorities – passage of a long-term highway bill and reining in EPA regulations, according to the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association.

Inhofe stated that working on a long-term highway bill will be his first order of business saying, “We want a long-term transportation bill. A sizeable and a robust one.”

To that end, Inhofe added, “The other day on a Sunday show, [South Dakota Sen.] John Thune (R-SD) said nothing is off the table and I agree with him.” Inhofe’s comments follow those of incoming Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, who said Jan. 6, “I’m open to whatever it takes to get that problem solved because we have to take care of our highways,”

Hatch told reporters. “I would prefer not to have a gas tax [increase], but we’ll just have to see.”

This makes Inhofe the third Senate Republican this week after Thune and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to leave the door open to a gas tax increase.

Other priorities for the EPW Committee of specific interest to the aggregates industry mentioned by Inhofe include conducting oversight of the Endangered Species Act and reauthorizing the Toxic Substances Control Act.