Act Now to Make Sure the CLEAN TEA amendment — and Federal Support for Connected Street Networks — are in the Climate Bill
Last winter, despite the best efforts of CNU and allies, the rapidly prepared federal stimulus bill wound up funding a lot of highway expansion projects that perpetuate automobile-dependence. Nevertheless, an argument CNU made — that streets that form highly connected, walkable networks are along with transit the backbones of sustainable neighborhoods and deserve federal funding — made an impression on some key members of the Senate and House.
These members — including Senator Carper of Delaware, Senator Lautenberg of New Jersey and Congressman Blumenauer of Oregon — are the sponsors of legislation known as CLEAN TEA, a proposed amendment to the Climate Bill that will soon become a focus in the Senate. If it becomes law, the amendment will require major metropolitan areas to create plans to reduce carbon emissions associated with transportation and land development. And just as importantly, it will set aside 10 percent of future cap-and-trade proceeds to fund these plans and the low-carbon transportation investments they'll incorporate. Thanks to CNU's efforts, the authors of CLEAN TEA expanded their definition of eligible clean transportation projects to include road construction that “enhances connectivity, increases the efficiency of network performance, and encourages the use of public transportation, pedestrian walkways, or bicycle lanes.”
These are the streets of new urbanist neighborhoods. Unlike the freeways the Feds regularly funds street networks can serve as a great setting for transit service, biking and walking. For the first time ever, the Federal government is on the cusp of distinguishing between good and bad pavement.
But CLEAN TEA will need a big push from CNU members and others in the Transportation for America coalition to become law. Only small portions of CLEAN TEA — and not the connectivity language — were included in the version of the Climate Bill that passed the house. Transportation for America is asking all of its members to urge their Senators to sign-on as CLEAN TEA sponsors and call for the inclusion of of the entire CLEAN TEA amendment in the Senate version of the Climate Bill.
Throughout the year, we get a number of valuable opportunities to join with T4America and take action. This is one of those special times to make sure you follow through. That's why I'm asking you personally to contact your Senators and tell them the importance of signing on as a co-sponsor and insisting the full CLEAN TEA amendment (S. 575) is in the Climate Bill, so that the federal government starts supporting the street infrastructure that reduces carbon emissions and helps create valuable, livable neighborhoods. Please call the Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121, ask to be connected to your Senator’s office and leave a message with a staffer. For more information, see this action alert from T4 America.
If your Senator is a member of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, getting their support is doubly important.
EPW Senators not yet sponsoring Clean-TEA
Chairman Barbara Boxer
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Update 7-31-09: Elena Schor of Streetsblog reports that Gillibrand is now a co-sponsor of CLEAN TEA, leaving the Environment and Public Works Committee four members shy of having a majority signing on to support this important amendment.
Sen. Mike Crapo
Sen. George V. Voinovich
Sen. David Vitter
Sen. James M. Inhofe
Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse
Sen. Christopher S. Bond
Sen. Lamar Alexander
Sen. Max Baucus
Sen. Bernie Sanders
Sen. Tom Udall
Sen. John Barrasso
Since the Obama Administration and top Congressional leaders have signaled their intention to extend the current Federal Transporation Authorization and put off serious transportation reform till next year or later, the Climate Cap-and-Trade Bill represents our best near-term opportunity to see our agenda incorporated into major legislation. Please, don't let this opportunity slip away.
Write your comments in the box below and share on your Facebook!