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2009 Transportation Bill

Cardin & Carper Bullish on Transit’s Prospects in Senate Climate Bill

12:27 PM EDT on July 22, 2009

Addressing a climate change forum this morning, two Democrats on the Senate environment committee said they are pushing for transit and other green modes of transport to get 10 percent of the revenue generated by the upcoming Senate bill regulating carbon emissions.

1_P1010826m.jpgSen. Tom Carper (D-DE) (Photo: DTI)

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), a chief sponsor of the 10-percent plan,  said he and other supporters have "asked for it to be included in" the climate bill that environment panel chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is slated to unveil in September. "If not, we will offer it as an amendment."

Carper predicted that Boxer would be receptive to giving transit a larger slice of the carbon cap-and-trade pie than the 1 percent it received in the climate bill recently passed by the House.

"She fully understands the fact that we can't get from here
to there [on emissions] without addressing transportation," Carper told
Streetsblog Capitol Hill.

The transit proposal, also known as "CLEAN TEA," would shift the climate revenue into a fund that states and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) could tap to help pay for expansion or construction of clean transport infrastructure -- from new transit to bike paths to freight rail and beyond.

The money would be disbursed based on which states and MPOs produce long-term plans to reduce emissions from transportation.

Asked if it would be difficult to find middle ground between the House climate bill's transport language and "CLEAN TEA," Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) had an ready answer: Go with his plan.

"I think 10 percent's right," Cardin told Streetsblog Capitol Hill.

The climate bill is sure to face a rocky road in the Senate, where GOP support is scant at best and Democrats from the industrial midwest could defect on a final vote. With that in mind, Carper said it would be "ideal" -- but not required -- for President Obama to sign the legislation into law by the time the Copenhagen climate conference begins in December.

If passage before Copenhagen proves impossible, Carper said, a statement of intent could be projected by both the House and Senate approving separate climate plans that would then be merged in early 2010.

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