March 29, 2010
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|COVERAGE OF 2010 LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE
Interagency Livability Partnership, Sustainability in Transportation, Discussed
The livability partnership among three federal agencies—DOT, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)—was the focus of a March 15 panel discussion at the APTA Legislative Conference titled “Sustainability and Livability in Transportation: Opportunities for Public Transportation.”
“[Transportation] Secretary [Ray] LaHood considers livable communities to be one of the legacies that we can leave the country,” said Beth Osborne, deputy assistant secretary for transportation policy at DOT. She added that staff members of the three agencies meet weekly, noting that some of the participants have working relationships that precede the new partnership by many years.
Osborne said that sustainable development can also be frugal development; for example, the state of Utah has saved $4.5 billion in infrastructure costs over a five-year period by encouraging more dense development.
The need for increased federal investment in clean energy goes hand-in-hand with sustainable development. To that end, panelist Paul Schmid, legislative assistant for Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), expressed his hopes that Carper’s climate change bill, the Clean, Low-Emissions, Affordable New Transportation Equity Act (CLEAN-TEA), would be a priority for Congress this year.
“More people riding transit needs to be part of these issues,” said Mitch Warren, senior policy adviser to the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee specializing in transportation issues. He noted that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s recent testimony before the banking committee may be the first time an EPA administrator has testified at a hearing of that committee.
Marlene Connor, chair of the APTA Intergovernmental Affairs Subcommittee and director of public transportation with Wilbur Smith Associates in Holyoke, MA, moderated the panel.