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Reps. García and Pressley host briefing on transportation and climate, announce caucus

Last week, Representatives Chuy García (IL-4) and Ayanna Pressley (MA-7) co-hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill on the nexus of transportation and the climate crisis and announced the imminent launch of a caucus focused on creating a new vision for our transportation system.

We took our message to Capitol Hill last week, with a packed briefing on the often ignored or misunderstood nexus between transportation and climate change. Transportation is now the single largest source of greenhouse gases (GHG), contributing 29 percent of the United States’ total GHG emissions. While many other sectors have actually improved, transportation is headed in the wrong direction.

When we talk about transportation and climate change, we too often only discuss electric vehicles and CAFE standards or fuel efficiency. The distance we drive, known as vehicle miles traveled or VMT, is entirely left out of the conversation. As we have discussed, federal policy incentives communities to build car-oriented places that are unpleasant or unsafe for anyone outside of a car. This forces people to drive more and further, generating emissions and worsening climate change.

At the briefing, Reps. García and Pressley kicked it off with a pre-recorded welcome video in which both members of Congress expressed the need for a more visionary and equitable transportation policy. Their creation of a caucus that would focus on policy first rather than funding is especially timely. With the next surface transportation reauthorization right around the corner and climate change emerging as a top issue for voters, this is a much needed discussion on Capitol Hill.

Transportation for America’s Policy Director Scott Goldstein then spoke alongside Adie Tomer of Brookings and Rob Puentes of the Eno Center for Transportation about the links between transportation and climate change. The three provided Congressional staffers an overview of how our surface transportation policy has incentivized more driving, which has lead to more emissions.

The briefing was very well attended, with more than 50 Congressional staffers present. Goldstein, Tomer, and Puentes each spoke of the need to reorient federal transportation funding away from highways and instead prioritize spending for repairing the infrastructure we already have and for projects that increase access within communities. Doing so would make it safer and more convenient for people to take transit, make shorter car trips, walk, and bike. These strategies, the speakers stated, are crucial to reducing transportation emissions.

We’re excited to have Rep. García and Rep. Pressley championing these issues and we’ll tell you more about the caucus once it formally launches.

4 Comments

  1. Ken Orski

    2 years ago

    Pleas for “re-orienting” transportation policy—from building more highways to more dense living patterns, and thus to reducing the need for driving—have been heard for least the last 50 years. And yet, the trend toward further subarbanization continues. What makes you think climate change will have any effect on the patterns of living ( end thus reducing the need for driving?)

  2. Elery Keene

    2 years ago

    I am 85 years old. When I was growing up I walked to a small school. Now children ride a bus to a bigger school. My teacher walked to school. I lived in a small village. Many could walk to work, but my father drove six miles to his work and five miles home again. He was driving a truck to deliver products to where people wanted them, often to their homes. Now lots of people live in a residential area and drive several miles to get to work. I don’t want to live in a tall apartment building. I like my half acre house lot. I think we can succeed by using autos that don’t use fossil fuel in a pretty good way. I would like to know what your ideas for reducing travel look like.

  3. The only solution is mandatory total mass transit off course free to all !
    Food is a right like healthcare and air&water ! housing must be all alike and efficient in the extreme.
    Almost all food will be grown within a few miles of consumption and will be all basics greens potatoes some meat and fish but local production cooked in community kitchens. wont it be wonderful when we can see neighbors at every meal insted of once in a while we might find we actually like them!.

  4. Michael Smith

    2 years ago

    The Future of Transportation Caucus may be a first step to curtail the spending of billions of transportation dollars on new tolled expressways (upon sensitive lands) and the addition of tolled lanes to the Interstate highways system, especially in Florida with its growing population, now third in the nation.

    I’m told by a reliable source that federal policy, calculated to favor new, major (tolled) roadway expansion versus other modes was 53 percent, but is now 57 percent.

    This must change. It should be pointed out that commuter rail (The Hartford Line in Connecticut) was recently completed at a cost of less than $12.6 million per mile {Phase 1) while let contracts to add toll lanes on I-95 are estimated a over $58 million per mile.