Environmental Defense Statement On Transportation Bill

The following statement may be attributed to Environmental Defense transportation director Michael Replogle.

"Congress missed an opportunity with this transportation bill to bring major relief to the millions of Americans who are stuck in traffic, stuck with an asthma inhaler, or stuck with high gas bills. This bill also takes little action to improve energy security. More than ever, it will be up to state and local officials to put in place transportation policy that protects our health and environment. Although the bill is short on vision and long on pork, there are a few bright spots that should not be ignored.

"States will have new opportunities to use market incentives to cut traffic and air pollution and finance better transportation choices. Reauthorization of the Value Pricing Pilot Program and expanded toll pilot programs could help spur the development of tools like time-of-day tolling and pay-as-you-drive car insurance. A new program introduced by Senator Clinton to help clean up dirty diesel engines that are used both on- and off- highways and in construction will help reduce health hazards from air pollution.

"But accountability for the effects of new highways on air quality will be weakened and highway agency bureaucrats will gain more power to override concerns about new highways raised by public citizens and environmental scientists and policymakers. To challenge questionable approvals of new road projects that may be years away from being fully funded, local officials and the public will now need to file law suits within 180 days following completion of an environmental review, rather than resolving those conflicts out of court while project sponsors seek full funding for their project.

"Environmental Defense applauds the efforts of Representatives Oberstar and Dingle and Senators Jeffords, Carper, and Warner, and many others who worked to protect core environmental laws that were threatened in earlier versions of the bill."

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