8 June 2021
Dear Presidents DeFazio, Norton & Payne:
US PIRG and Environment America are writing in support of the Investment in America Act that you introduced on June 4, 2021, which seeks to improve roads, bridges, transit, and pedestrian traffic with an emphasis on fixing and decongesting existing infrastructure. And investing in biking infrastructure will help transform transportation. Pollution that harms our health and our climate.
Past federal transportation investments have made traveling by car easier and cheaper, but at a higher cost. Every year, pollution from cars, trucks and other vehicles kills an estimated 58,000 people and increases the risk of lung cancer, stroke and heart disease. Cars are much safer than before. But each year motor vehicle accidents still kill an estimated 40,000 Americans and seriously injure 4.5 million. And, in a conclusion that shouldn’t shock anyone, one study found that morning commute is the least favorite part of the day for many Americans.
Transportation is also now America’s number one source of carbon pollution, with greenhouse emissions from cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles exceeding every other source. We can’t solve global warming without changing the way Americans move around. By electrifying our cars, trucks and buses, and increasing the use of the cleanest forms of transport – walking, biking and transit – we can not only reduce but virtually eliminate transport pollution. Doing so will ensure a stable climate, clean air and a healthy life for our children.
The Investment in America Act will make necessary progress in tackling climate change, increasing access to walking, biking and transit and improving safety, and ensuring that we make the best of existing infrastructure by taking a “fix it first” and multi-pronged approach. Use the. We specifically support the following policies and funding:
Tackling climate change by electrifying cars and buses, for public transport and through new policies and funding:
- Authorize $109 billion for public transportation to increase routes, reduce transit maintenance backlogs, and provide more frequent service, resulting in better choices for riders, better environmental outcomes, and increased access to jobs and essential destinations happened.
- Provide $4 billion for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, require interoperability for most EV drivers for chargers receiving federal funding, and allow EV charging infrastructure along highways where convenient for drivers
- Provide $4.085 billion for zero-emission buses
- Dedicate $8.3 billion to activities targeted to reduce carbon pollution, direct the US DOT to establish new performance measures for greenhouse gas emissions, and require states that are not making progress on carbon emissions reductions. so that additional federal funding can be devoted to projects that will reduce emissions
Expanding access to walking and biking and improving safety:
- Dedicate 10 percent of the Surface Transportation Program to the Transportation Choices Program, a vital resource for communities expanding walking and biking; Providing $500 million in additional funding for completed roads and vulnerable road user safety projects; and $1 billion for an active transportation connectivity grant program
- The need for a “full roads” approach, taking into account the needs of all road users, while preserving the flexibility to design roads for the needs of each community
- Focus on the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists, ensure that states with high levels of road deaths work to reduce death rates, and prevent states from setting regressive safety targets.
- Expand CMAQ qualifications to include micromobility projects, including bikeshares, shared scooters and docking stations
Fix it first:
- Insist on fixing and maintaining existing infrastructure and consider alternative approaches, such as transit projects, before considering any new highway expansion
- Use life-cycle cost analysis to evaluate the total economic cost of a transportation project, rather than building projects that cannot be maintained
- Dedicate $3 Billion to Reconnecting Communities Divided by Highways
Additionally, we thank the Chairs for the Protection of the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) in this bill. NEPA is a powerful tool that encourages smart and sustainable infrastructure decisions. Significant environmental protection should not be sacrificed in the name of streamlining the regulator.
We also support the inclusion of $400 million for Wildlife Crossing. Too often, highways have carved out and paved the way for important wildlife habitats. Bighorns will help sheep, lynx and many other species cross the highway safely while reducing wildlife crossing accidents.
In addition to supporting the comprehensive bill, US PIRG and the Environment urge support for any amendments to increase funding for US transit operations.
Given our current transportation challenges, from crumbling roads and bridges to ever-increasing pollution, it’s no surprise that Americans widely support investment in transportation. Earlier this year, our organizations submitted a letter from more than 360 local officials in 34 states in support of investing in clean, electric transportation. Recently sponsored by Environment Oregon, Environment America and EarthJustice, in collaboration with the League of Conservation Voters, 76 percent of voters in Chair DeFazio’s district supported investments to rebuild roads and bridges and modernize public transportation to ensure May it be clean and able to serve. more people. The survey found a great deal of support for addressing climate change, reducing vehicular pollution, and investing in electric vehicles and charging stations.
The bill by itself will not address climate change; In particular, significantly more money is needed to electrify buses and build a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations, as stated in President Biden’s US Jobs plan. But it will lead to a significant improvement in transportation and we look forward to working with you to support its passage.
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