Friday, February 27, 2009

DOT Adviser Applauds Rep. Blumenauer's Plan to Link Transportation Finance, Investment and Climate Change Initiatives

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Environmental Defense Fund applauds U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) for launching a debate today about how new transportation finance measures can work together with climate change initiatives to shape sustainable transportation reforms.

Congressman Blumenauer's 10-year "National Plan to Reinvest in America" envisions a transition from the current federal gas tax revenue system of transportation financing to road-use fees (based on vehicle miles traveled), revenue generated from selling carbon credits, and other new funding sources. Collectively, these revenue sources could raise much of the $100 billion a year that may be needed to fix and improve transportation infrastructure over the next decade, more than double the current funding level provided by federal gas tax revenues, which continue to decline as people drive less and use more fuel efficient vehicles.

The Blumenauer plan explores a 10-year strategy for transportation infrastructure funding, which reflects the growing consensus that the United States needs to implement a new transportation revenue system or face serious budget shortfalls. Recent studies have shown that under-investment in transportation and dependence on the federal gas tax to be key causes of poor transportation system performance that cost drivers $78 billion a year in congestion-related costs and contribute to rising greenhouse gas emissions.

"Congressman Blumenauer understands that the old way of funding our transportation infrastructure is a dead end in the new economy," said Michael Replogle, a civil engineer, transportation director for Environmental Defense Fund and an adviser to the U.S. Department of Transportation on intelligent transportation systems. "This plan shows that Congressman Blumenauer understands that any solution to climate change and the problems facing our economy depend on investing in and improving our transportation infrastructure."

"Key elements of this plan -- such as road-use fees, a carbon cap, and carbon auctions generating revenues that can be dedicated in part to transportation -- can help finance a shift to cleaner infrastructure and expanded travel choices for Americans who are stuck in traffic without any alternatives to driving," added Replogle. "It is crucial that new revenue measures send appropriate incentives to travelers and system managers to make wise stewardship and consumer choices."

"However, a key factor determining whether transportation contributes to cutting greenhouse gases will be how revenue is spent, not just how it's raised," Replogle concluded. "We look forward to working with Congressman Blumenauer and other congressional leaders to make sure we are raising and spending revenue on transportation in ways that maximize opportunities to cut both congestion and greenhouse gas emissions."

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