Oberstar hopes new transpo emissions report will be “blowtorch to the behind” for reluctant administration

A government report published yesterday and highlighted in the New York Times suggests that better land-use practices and increased investment in non-automobile transportation could halve US transportation emissions by 2050. The report is further evidence that increased automobile fuel efficiency isn’t going to be enough to green American mobility:

The report found environmental gains from advances in fuel efficiency would be mostly undermined by increased travel and population, making it important to address the efficiency of the transportation sector by investing in public transit, land-use planning and other low-carbon alternatives.

John Porcari, deputy secretary at the Department of Transportation, said the report shows that lawmakers looking to recast the nation's transportation system to curb emissions and fuel consumption will need to look for combinations of policy changes. "There is no magic bullet," he said. "There is no single strategy that can be pursued to help us turn our corner. We need to look at a number of options."

The report should also be, in the words of Rep. Jim Oberstar, a “blowtorch to the behind” for administration officials looking to push back a new progressive transportation bill for 18 more months. Getting improved transportation funding legislation in place as soon as possible will not only get us on the right track for emissions goals, but will also lay the groundwork for the sustainable infrastructure that’s going to be crucial if we want the economic recovery to be a green, urban recovery.

And while it's understandable that the Obama administration wants to focus on health care, it's becoming clear that one way of lowering health costs is to encourage walkable communities that enable residents and visitors to lead active and healthy lifestyles. The link between well being and urban form will be the primary theme of CNU 18, co-hosted by the Centers for Disease Control, allowing us to take this message to other sectors of the government as well.

Worryingly, although the separate cap-and-trade climate bill has passed the house, only 1% of its revenues are being directed towards cleaner transportation. The Congress for the New Urbanism is backing Transportation for America in supporting the CLEAN-TEA amendment to the Senate version, which would bring transportation’s share up to 10%. Check out T4America’s report on the amendment and see if your Senator is on the Environment and Public Works Committee, which must vote on the change.

Photo: Rep. Jim Oberstar from House of Representatives


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