Last week, Sens. Thomas Carper (D-Del.) and Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), Steven La Tourette (R-Ohio), Melissa Bean (D-Ill.), and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) introduced the Clean, Low Emission Affordable New Transportation Efficiency Act. H.R. 1329, also known as CLEAN TEA will work in conjunction with proposed climate change legislation by using a portion of any future cap and trade revenue to fund a low greenhouse gas transportation fund.
The current transportation authorization law — SAFETEA-LU — was signed into law by President Bush in 2005 and expires in September 2009. SAFETEA-LU significantly altered the funding formula from previous federal transportation authorizations by significantly increasing federal funding over previous years for transit systems, pedestrian and bicycle facilities and freight rail. While the 19 page CLEAN TEA does not reauthorize transportation funding, it alters the funding formula with the inclusion of cap and trade revenue for transportation funding.
Sen. Tom Carper said: “Today, we fund our transportation system through a gas tax, meaning we pay for roads and transit by burning gasoline. When people drive less, our transportation budgets dry up. This means states and localities that reduce oil use, lower greenhouse emissions and save their constituents money end up getting their budgets cut. But CLEAN TEA reverses this negative funding policy by sending money to states and localities based on how much they reduce emissions. Now, we in the Congress have the great opportunity to address many national problems at once – finding additional funding for transportation infrastructure, building money-saving transportation alternatives and lowering greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.”
“We salute these congressional leaders for understanding that — unless we link our efforts to protect the climate with efforts to cut congestion — we will not solve either problem,” said Michael Replogle, a Department of Transportation (DOT) adviser and Transportation Director at EDF. “This legislation reverses a long-term trend of transportation policies that encouraged growth in greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation should contribute proportionately to other sectors in solving the climate change crisis.”