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Climate Change

The 2009 Capitol Hill Streetsies: And the Nominees Are …

12:19 PM EST on December 29, 2009

The year-end Streetsie Awards are a time-honored tradition at Streetsblog -- check out New York's first round of honorees, hot off the presses today -- and Capitol Hill certainly has provided plenty of material. Without further ado, here are the nominees for Washington's brightest and bleakest moments of 2009. Winners will be announced on New Year's Eve, so don't forget to root for your favorites (by emailing elana [at] streetsblog [dot] org).

streetsies_2009.jpgPolicymaker of the Year: Who did the most on the federal level to help advance progressive infrastructure policies this year?

    • Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood
    • Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), chief of the Congressional Bicycle Caucus
    • House transportation committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN)
    • Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) 
    • Shelley Poticha, chief of the Obama administration's inter-agency Sustainable Communities project

Idea of the Year: Federal legislation and regulations are often unwieldy and slow-moving, but they're equally likely to contain victories worth cheering. Which of these proposals -- taken separately from the vehicle to which they came attached -- is the best?

    • The first stimulus law's $8 billion for American high-speed rail
    • "CLEAN TEA," the plan from Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Arlen Specter (D-PA) to set aside 10 percent of climate-change revenue for clean transportation
    • Rep. Pete DeFazio's bid to pay for new infrastructure projects by taxing Wall Street
    • Sen. Robert Menendez's (D-NJ) bill to help transit agencies escape punitive tax shelters
    • The Obama administration's push for a National Infrastructure Bank to encourage private investment in transportation

Disappointment of the Year: Which of these was the single most frustrating development out of Washington in 2009?

    • The lingering stalemate over when to take up a new six-year federal transportation bill
    • Congress' expansion of the sprawl-inducing home buyer's tax credit
    • The first stimulus law's routing of transport funding through state DOTs, leaving urban mayors on the sidelines
    • "Cash For Clunkers"
    • The House's decision not to expand merit-based TIGER grants in its year-end jobs bill, using existing formulas to fund transport projects

The Naughty List: Each of these players have done something this year to undermine progress on sustainable transportation policies. But who was the naughtiest of all?

    • The GOP senators who boycotted committee consideration of a climate change bill that includes more than $1 billion a year for clean transportation
    • Obama administration economic adviser Larry Summers, who reportedly pushed to cut infrastructure spending (particularly transit) in the first stimulus law
    • Columnist George Will, who dubbed LaHood the "Secretary of Behavior Modification"
    • Economist Ed Glaeser, whose deeply flawed take on high-speed rail spending managed to end up on the New York Times
    • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who tried to cut funding for an array of urban transit projects before releasing a thinly researched report taking aim at transportation stimulus spending

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