No Details Yet on House Transportation and Oil Drilling Bill

House leaders did not unveil a bill at their press conference this morning.

Speaker Boehner says he's hoping for a vote on a yet-unintroduced energy and infrastructure jobs bill this year. Photo credit: Associated Press

House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica said the bill, when it is released, will:

  • consolidate duplicative parts of the federal transportation system
  • shift responsibility to states and local governments to move transportation projects forward
  • increase the ability to leverage financial resources
  • significantly streamline the process for projects, cutting red tape and federal paperwork
No word on the dollar amount or duration of the bill. Mica did note that the bill is a “key component of our Republican jobs proposal, which I’m pretty confident will put Americans back to work with a long term and fiscally responsible plan.”

House Speaker John Boehner said he still hopes the House will act on the bill before year’s end.

All the questions from reporters that Boehner took were about the supercommittee.

Meanwhile, environmental groups and transportation advocates are already responding. Jesse Prentice-Dunn of the Sierra Club wrote that “the Speaker is right that we desperately need to invest in our crumbling transportation infrastructure, but wrong in suggesting that we must sacrifice our environment to do so”:

Our addiction to oil is threatening our climate, our coasts, and our wallets. Transportation, driven primarily by our passenger cars and trucks, consumes roughly two-thirds of oil used nationwide and is responsible for roughly one-third of our nation’s carbon pollution. At the same time, nearly half of Americans lack access to public transit, forcing them to pay any price at the pump to get around.

Instead of offering a plan to upgrade our infrastructure into the 21st century, Speaker Boehner laid out a one-two punch that will leave us addicted to oil for decades to come.

We’ll have more information about the bill later today.

  • David

    I hope that the Democrats take this as an opportunity. While, I like many, are for protecting our natural areas, I also believe that they are under threat by a changing climate, regardless of whether we drill in those sacred places or not. I also believe that not drilling in these places will have little effect on our continued addiction to oil. However building infrastructure that makes us less dependent on fossil fuels will. So, I think we should compromise. Give them their oil drilling in exchange for robust funding for mass transit, pedestrian, and cycling infrastructure projects, while putting in place the neccessary framework for repairing the damage that drilling will cause. Let’s look to the long-term not the immediate.

  • Z. Fechten

    What the House gives, the Senate takes away. Eliminating MPOs for cities under 200,000 people is hardly enhancing local control.

    http://usa.streetsblog.org/2011/11/14/senate-bill-may-weaken-smaller-metros-empower-state-dots/

  • Some guy with horns and a pitchfork was just at the door, offering to give America better transportation (he was kind of vague on the details) if we would just sell our souls to him.  Oh, and allow drilling in ANWR.

    What do you think? Should we go for it?

  • I say call the bluff here and eliminate federal transportation dollars altogether. If states don’t want roads, highways and bridges, they don’t have to have them. Continue to collect the federal gas tax for three years and give the amount raised in each state directly to the state to do whatever they like with it.  (We already know it isn’t enough to cover current transportation spending; let states make up the shortfall directly or cut spending, as they choose.) After three years, eliminate even the federal gas tax and leave it up to each state how or if they want to raise revenue to pay for their transportation infrastructure.  Each state would become entirely responsible for all roads, highways and bridges in their state; the only caveat would be that the Federal government would perform biannual inspections and shut down any surface or structure that is hazardous or likely to fail within the next six months. If this means an entire town has no way to cross a river to get to the next town or an interstate freeway vital to trucking must be closed, then this is what it means.

    Even though short term such a policy might be disastrous economically, having roads crumble into an impassable mess and bridges shut down would force VMT down drastically.  Such a drop in VMT is quite possibly the only thing besides total financial collapse that will get our carbon emissions to start declining enough to avoid disaster half a century from now. Failing roads and closed bridges would make the economic benefits of rail apparent very quickly and hasten our changeover to it for freight and passenger travel.  It would also push communities to localize their economy and become resilient very quickly, albeit the transition would likely be bumpy. Another benefit would be that transportation boondoggles such as the Central Subway in San
    Francisco might evaporate into mist once the people of the host community are obliged to cough up the dollars to pay for it themselves.  (“We know its terrible
    design means no one will use it and it’ll be horribly expensive to operate,
    but we can’t turn down billions in Federal money!”)

    Given the Senate’s complete inability to do anything useful or sensible whatsoever the provocation, maybe environmentalists should embrace a “zero roads=zero carbon” paradigm?

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