Rep. Earl Blumenauer: Announcing the Livable Communities Task Force

congressman_earl_blumenauer.jpgRep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) (Photo: Airdye.com)

With much excitement, today we are launching the Livable Communities Task Force -- an official initiative of the House Democratic Caucus that will work to improve community livability and Americans’ quality of life.

This means reducing the nation’s dependence on oil, protecting the environment, improving public health and investing in housing and transportation projects that create jobs and give people more commuting choices.

As Chairman of the Livable Communities Task Force, this is an exciting moment for me. When I first came to Congress 13 years ago, people sometimes looked at me funny when I used the term “livability.” They had no idea what I was talking about. Today, not only are blogs like yours dedicated to transportation, infrastructure, and livability, but other leaders in Washington are talking about how to make our communities more livable.

The Obama administration is leading on this issue, having recently established the Partnership for Sustainable Communities with six “livability principles” for coordinating policy across the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

What a difference a year makes.

The Task Force is made up of 20 members from around the nation who are leaders on everything from transportation and building efficiency to renewable energy and community gardening. In the coming months, we will work with members of the administration to hold briefings and strategy sessions on everything from the livability provisions in the energy and climate legislation that passed the House to the pending transportation re-authorization.

After spending a lifetime in public service working to make our nation’s communities more livable, it feels like the pieces are coming together. America was ready for change when President Obama came into office. It is exciting that in 10 months we have moved legislation that will rein in global warming pollution. With the leadership of Secretary LaHood and Chairman Oberstar, we are gearing up for a transportation bill that will make smart investments in low-carbon transportation, give people more commuting choices, and reduce America's dependence on oil.

It is an honor to lead this unique Task Force and, and I am eager to work with Congressional leaders and members of the administration who are committed to protecting our environment and making our communities safer, healthier, and more economically secure.

(ed. note: Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer has represented Oregon's 3rd Congressional District since 1996. He is the lead sponsor of the House's "CLEAN TEA" climate legislation and founded the Congressional Bicycle Caucus.)