GROW AMERICA plays key role as Obama Administration continues to act on climate
It's no secret to Fast Lane readers that the GROW AMERICA proposal I sent to Congress earlier this spring has a number of elements that will improve the way our transportation system helps people and freight get where they need to go safely and efficiently. I'm also happy to share that GROW AMERICA has a number of features that would improve the environmental sustainability of American transportation.
This makes GROW AMERICA a very good fit with the Obama Administration's significant ongoing efforts to #ActOnClimate--including last week's report, “An All-of-the-Above Energy Strategy as a Path to Sustainable Economic Growth,” and yesterday's proposed rulemaking to cut carbon pollution from power plants.
The GROW AMERICA Act protects the environment, helps cut carbon pollution by increasing the efficiency of the transportation system and encourages transportation choices that ease congestion on our highways and improves the quality of life in our communities.
Because transportation is responsible for more than 70 percent of petroleum consumption in the U.S., we need a long-term transportation bill that continues to reduce that share by:
- Setting fuel efficiency standards for heavy vehicles;
- Providing Americans more transportation options like transit and inter-city passenger rail; and
- Fixing our roads and bridges to eliminate the bottlenecks that cause congestion and elevated emissions.
And that's exactly what GROW AMERICA would do.
This Administration established the first-ever fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks for model years 2014-18, which will save vehicle owners and operators an estimated $50 billion in fuel costs and save a projected 530 million barrels of oil. We have put in place standards for cars and light duty vehicles through 2025, which are already saving vehicle owners at the gas pump and will roughly double fuel economy by the end of the program. We have encouraged the use of alternative fuels for transit vehicles, airplanes, ships, and tugboats. We have developed infrastructure to increase safety for those who choose to walk or bike.
GROW AMERICA would continue all of this progress and more:
- Increase transit funding by 70 percent, to expand systems, mitigate congestion, and improve air quality while enabling more Americans to save hard-earned dollars that would otherwise be spent on gas.
- Invest $19 billion over four years to improve rail infrastructure, including enhancing the nation’s intercity rail network, to improve air quality and reduce congestion between megaregions.
- Establish a $1 billion Fixing and Accelerating Surface Transportation (FAST) grants program that will incentivize jurisdictions to adopt bold, innovative strategies and best practices in transportation, including measures that better align transportation, land-use and economic decisions, and those that reduce energy use, improve air and water quality, and reduce carbon pollution.
- Help communities meet and maintain air quality standards through improvements to the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program by aggressively targeting fine-particle air pollution and smog-forming emissions that can have the greatest health impacts.
- Support increasing the number of electric vehicles on the road by 2015 by easing installation of electric charging stations along America's highway rest areas.
All of these elements would help improve transportation's environmental sustainability. But for communities already experiencing the effects of climate change, we must also improve transportation resiliency. That's why GROW AMERICA supports development of state and regional long range transportation plans that take into account the need to reduce risks from extreme weather events and create more resilient infrastructure.
Since day one, this Administration has worked to protect our environment and mitigate the effects of climate change. Last week's All-of-the-Above report and yesterday's EPA proposal to cut carbon emissions at America's power plants are two more steps toward the sustainability our nation needs to achieve. If passed, GROW AMERICA would be another step down the road to a greener economy and healthier communities.
And we're ready to work with Congress to take that step.