July 20, 2009
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LaHood Stresses Role of Public Transit in Climate Change; Testifies at Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood called for public transportation to be part of an integrated effort to help decrease carbon emissions in his testimony July 14 before the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee. The committee, chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), convened the hearing to solicit comments about the role of transportation in climate change and reducing greenhouse gases.
“We must invest transportation and housing dollars to create strong communities,” LaHood said, noting federal partnerships among the agencies responsible for public transit, housing, and economic development. Such a program would “redefine livability,” he said, decreasing total vehicle miles traveled by providing enhanced opportunities not just for transit—such as light rail and fuel-efficient buses—but also by providing bicycle and pedestrian paths that connect with transit centers.
“These options will also reduce household transportation costs, strengthen local economies, lower traffic congestion, and reduce reliance on foreign oil,” he explained.
The secretary called for increased fuel efficiency in all forms of transportation while simultaneously introducing low-carbon fuels and alternative power sources for all types of vehicles. He noted that simply achieving a 55-mile-per-gallon fuel efficiency standard in coming years would not be enough; such a change would lead only to a modest drop in carbon emission levels.
Also testifying were Regina McCarthy, assistant administrator, Office of Air and Radiation, for the Environmental Protection Agency; Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker; David Bragdon, president of the Portland Metro Council, the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Portland, OR, region; Steve Winkelman, director of adaptation and transportation programs, Center for Clean Air Policy; and Ray Kuntz, chief executive officer of Watkins and Shepard Trucking.
Boxer said she is aiming to have her committee pass the climate change bill by the end of September.