APTA | Passenger Transport
November 23, 2009

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Carper: More Climate Change Funds for Transit

The National Journal Group hosted a Nov. 17 Transportation Policy Lunch that featured Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), chairman of the Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and a panel of transportation policy experts.

At the event, Carper called for climate change legislation to channel additional revenue generated from selling carbon credits toward efforts to reduce Americans’ reliance on automobiles in favor of public transportation, bicycles, and other emission-free forms of transportation.

In response to questions posed by National Journal correspondent Lisa Caruso, Carper said the current House version of a climate change bill puts 1 percent of revenues toward alternative forms of transportation, which he said is not enough. “I hope, by the time we get through the debate in the Senate, we can get to 4 or 5 percent [of revenues],” he said. “It’s not perfect, but it’s better than what we have.”

The senator said changing the nature of personal transportation in the United States was vital to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, much of which are generated by automobiles. “By 2030 there will be a 50 percent increase in the number of miles traveled,” he said. “We’ve got to figure out a smarter way to do it.”

Joining Carper at the event were panelists James Corliss, campaign director of Transportation for America; Deron Lovaas, federal transportation policy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council; Jack Schenendorf, vice chairman of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission; Samuel Staley, director of urban growth and land use policy at the Reason Foundation; and Polly Trottenberg, U.S. DOT assistant secretary for transportation policy.

Trottenberg cited “a huge demand for more transportation options, for rail, for biking, for walking …. I think there are some incredible transportation innovations that will work in all kinds of communities, not just in compact, high-density communities.”

Schenendorf added: “We simply need the leadership to get us that next step and provide the kind of transportation system that’s going to power our economy in the 21st century. Otherwise, transportation is going to drag down our economy. We lived off the excess capacity of the highway system for years, and now that excess capacity is gone.”

The event, presented in association with CSX and the Transportation Construction Coalition, is the latest in a series of National Journal Group policy breakfasts and lunches that showcase the opinions of key stakeholders regarding major issues on Capitol Hill.

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