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Public Statements

Letter To Senator John Kerry, Senator Lindsey Graham, And Senator Joseph Lieberman

Sen. Carper Calls For Transportation Provisions In Forthcoming Climate Change Legislation

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) was joined by seven of his Senate colleagues in writing to Sens. Kerry, Graham and Lieberman requesting more transportation provisions in their forthcoming climate change legislation. Joining Sen. Carper on the letter were Sens. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.). All cosponsored Sen. Carper's Clean, Low-Emission, Affordable, New Transportation Efficiency Act, known as "CLEAN TEA".

In the letter the Senators call for additional actions to reduce transportation emissions and oil consumption and improve the nation's transportation infrastructure.

"While we support your work to develop comprehensive legislation, we are concerned that your approach may not result in sufficient emission or oil consumption reductions from the transportation sector and may inadvertently hinder our efforts to pass a surface transportation authorization bill this year," wrote the Senators.

According to Environment Protection Agency (EPA), previous climate bills will not significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions or oil consumption from the transportation sector.To accomplish more significant reductions, travel efficiency measures -- such as high-speed rail, mass transit, smart growth, and intermodal freight -- should be part of any comprehensive climate change strategy. The EPA has stated that travel efficiency measures alone can reduce transportation emissions by 16 percent in 2030. Not only do travel efficiency measures reduce emissions, but they also create thousands of green jobs that help our economy recover and put Americans back to work.

"Travel efficiency measures alone will not solve the climate problem. However, we believe that comprehensive climate legislation cannot be successful if it does not provide additional transportation mobility options for Americans," wrote the Senators.

The letter also expresses concern about legislation that would generate revenue from transportation without reinvesting it into infrastructure. According to the Department of Transportation's 2008 Conditions and Performance Report, an additional investment of $30 billion annually is needed to maintain the nation's transportation infrastructure and $75 billion more per year is needed to improve it.

"If your legislation raises revenue from the transportation sector but does not reinvest funds into infrastructure, our efforts to enact a surface transportation authorization bill in the near future will be constrained. For that reason, transportation revenue should be reinvested into infrastructure strategies that will reduce transportation emissions and oil consumption," wrote the Senators.

A copy of the letter follows:

The Honorable John F. Kerry The Honorable Lindsey Graham
218 Russell Senate Office Building 290 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Joseph I. Lieberman
706 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators Kerry, Graham and Lieberman:

We write to thank you for your bipartisan effort to develop climate change legislation that will put America on the path to a clean energy economy, improve our energy independence, and protect the environment. While we support your work to develop comprehensive legislation, we are concerned that your approach may not result in sufficient emission or oil consumption reductions from the transportation sector and may inadvertently hinder our efforts to pass a surface transportation authorization bill this year.

As you know, mobile sources account for nearly 30 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and consume 70 percent of the 20 million barrels of oil that Americans use every day. In a recent analysis of proposed economy-wide emission limits, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that the transportation sector "is projected to produce only about 5 percent of the covered sector greenhouse gas reductions." This is an insufficient level of reductions from a sector that is one-third of the problem. Transportation can and must play a larger role in climate and energy independence solutions.

The EPA has stated that a comprehensive set of strategies can reduce transportation emissions by 26 to 40 percent and oil consumption by 4 to 7 million barrels per day in 2030. Travel efficiency measures -- such as high-speed rail, mass transit, smart growth, and intermodal freight -- are an essential component of those strategies. In fact, the EPA has stated that travel efficiency measures alone can reduce transportation emissions by 16 percent in 2030.

In order to transform the transportation sector, meet greenhouse gas reduction goals and reduce our dependence on oil, we request that your bill including the following:

Ø Legislative language that directs states and Metropolitan Planning Organizations to set goals for reducing oil use and greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and to establish plans to meet those goals (for example, Sections 112 and 113 of S. 1733).

Ø Performance-based funding for states and regions to help them establish the plans and to build clean transportation projects.

In addition to providing greenhouse gas reductions and improving our energy independence, travel efficiency strategies are a component of retooling the American economy around green jobs. According to the University of Massachusetts' Political Economy Research Institute, mass transit projects create nearly 23,000 jobs per $1 billion of investment. This job creation rate is 36 percent higher than even fast-growing clean energy investments. Both clean energy and mass transit investments are major job creators and critical components of comprehensive energy legislation. In addition, greater use of travel efficiency measures can save significant funds for consumers. The Envision Utah plan, which is the long-term, smart growth strategy for the Salt Lake City region, is projected to save at least $6.4 billion in avoided infrastructure costs.

We are concerned that, in addition to realizing insufficient transportation emission reductions, your legislation may not invest revenue generated from the transportation sector into our crumbling infrastructure. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that an additional investment of $30 billion per year is needed to simply maintain our highways, bridges, and transit systems in their current state of repair. Improving our infrastructure to provide for the maximum economic benefit will require an additional investment of $75 billion per year. If your legislation raises revenue from the transportation sector but does not reinvest funds into infrastructure, our efforts to enact a surface transportation authorization bill in the near future will be constrained. For that reason, transportation revenue should be reinvested into infrastructure strategies that will reduce transportation emissions and oil consumption.

Travel efficiency measures alone will not solve the climate problem. However, we believe that comprehensive climate legislation cannot be successful if it does not provide additional transportation mobility options for Americans. We applaud your efforts to produce comprehensive climate legislation and look forward to working with you to incorporate our requests into your bill.

Sincerely,

Sen. Thomas R. Carper
Sen. Arlen Specter
Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg
Sen. Bill Nelson
Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin
Sen. Jeff Merkley
Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand
Sen. Michael F. Bennet


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