CNU Climate: Write Your Senator

Update 06/06/08: The Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act failed to pass in the Senate. Please consider writing your senator anyway on the importance of urbanist strategies to climate change. We'll get another sample letter up here soon.

Please consider contacting your senator to ask them to vote for the Lieberman-Warner Bill with the Boxer Amendment, increase the proportion of funding for transit and land-use planning and the broader issues of reducing vehicle miles traveled with the promotion of walkable, compact development. Here’s a sample letter for your adaptation and check out for your senator’s mailing address.

Special thanks to the members of the Smart Growth America Coalition for the key components of this sample letter. CNU signed onto a Coalition letter to the main contributers of the Lieberman-Warner bill, read the letter here.

Dear Senator,

As you debate the Lieberman-Warner Bill this week, and other climate protection measures in the future, I wanted to contact you to discuss the importance of urbanism in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation is responsible for one-third of U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and reducing these emissions is critical to combating global warming. In recent years, gains achieved through increased vehicle fuel efficiency standards have been undercut by the number of miles Americans drive per year—decreasing the dependence on the automobile for everyday trips is essential. The recent surge in gas prices has led to the first drop in the number of vehicle miles traveled since 1942. But without alternatives to driving in many of our communities, higher prices will decrease the quality of life for millions of Americans.

The Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008 (S. 3036) with Section 611 contains important measures to provide transportation alternatives that will allow Americans to drive less and save money while reducing carbon emissions. We recognize and appreciate the tremendous progress that has been made with this bill and ask that you vote for S. 3036. While it is not perfect, it is a step in the right direction and could be strengthened in a number of ways. Building walkable, compact developments should be integrated into the emission reduction strategy for transportation and strongly linked to strategic investments in transit. And these steps not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they build economies and strengthen communities.

In the short term, we hope you will support an amendment when offered to strengthen section 611, offering modest changes including those described below:
  • The “Conditions for Receipt of Funding” should be amended in order to ensure that funding is specifically tied to demonstrable and guaranteed reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The eligible uses of funding should be expanded to include measures associated with and supportive of transit operations and expansion, to ensure transit agencies, local, regional, and state governments have sufficient flexibility to use a broad range of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including compact development around transit stations and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
  • Essential data collection and development of modeling capacity needs to be made explicitly an eligible use of these funds to ensure that transit agencies and government entities have the tools and resources to meet the performance standards provided for in this section.
  • Regional associations of local government and large cities ought to be included as eligible recipients for planning, data collection, and modeling expenditures.