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Rep. Huffman Introduces Legislation to Transform Transportation Systems to Improve Commutes and Respond to Climate Emergency

December 06, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Today, Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) introduced the Generating Resilient, Environmentally Exceptional National (GREEN) Streets Act, legislation to reduce emissions from the U.S. transportation sector by re-envisioning how we plan for, construct, and use our transportation system. The bill redefines the fundamental goals of the federal transportation program and increases accountability for greenhouse gas pollution. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced companion legislation in the Senate earlier this year.  

“Tackling climate change is going to mean moving away from the current model of more highways and longer commutes to a model of safer, healthier, and more resilient communities,” said Rep. Huffman, a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “The GREEN Streets Act will be an essential component of this effort by transforming how we measure success in the federal transportation program and how we hold federal and state decision-makers accountable for reducing carbon pollution.”

The GREEN Streets Act will direct the Department of Transportation policies to work with States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by cutting down on the amount of driving that is necessary for people to go about their day. Strategies can include increasing the accessibility of schools, workplaces, and transit, as well as improving infrastructure for biking or walking.

The federal transportation program currently has a singular focus on highway expansion, rewarding states that expand highways with more federal funding. When roads are subsidized by the federal taxpayer, development often spreads further from the center of metro areas, forcing people to drive further, and more frequently, to access jobs and services. 

“For decades our federal transportation program has been full of incentives that encourage more driving, longer trips, and more congestion. It’s high time for us to reduce all three of those things as a unifying purpose for the program. Doing so will help give Americans more freedom to choose how to get around, save them money, and also reduce the harmful emissions wreaking havoc on our climate,” said Beth Osborne, Director of Transportation for America. “We are hopeful that the GREEN Streets Act will help kickstart an important conversation about finding a new, more productive purpose for the federal transportation program and we are pleased to support it,” she concluded.

“Transportation is the largest share of carbon pollution in our country — and those emissions continue to grow,” said Ann Shikany, State and Federal Advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We need Congress to act, and this measure provides a clear path toward eliminating tailpipe emissions and addressing our climate crisis. If passed, this measure would also reduce congestion on our roads and improve air quality across America. It’s a winner all around.”

The Generating Resilient, Environmentally Exceptional National (GREEN) Streets Act:

  • Directs the Secretary of Transportation to establish minimum standards for states to use to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and per capita vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on the National Highway System.
  • Directs the Secretary to establish measures that States can use to assess and reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions on the National Highway System.
  • Requires States that have fallen out of compliance with the per capita vehicle miles traveled standards or carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas emission measures to dedicate federal highway funding to come into compliance.
  • Requires States and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to consider projects and strategies that reduce per capita vehicle miles traveled and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.
  • Requires States and Metropolitan Planning Organizations to publish an analysis of the impact on per capita vehicle miles traveled and mobile source greenhouse gas emissions for each project that adds new lanes or otherwise increases traffic capacity and costs more than $25 million.
  • Establishes national goals for the Federal-aid highway program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.

Full text of the legislation can be found here

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