Revving Up Transportation

At the Environment and Public Works hearing on Tuesday, both Secretary LaHood of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Administrator Jackson of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explained that emissions reductions progress is already underway in the transportation sector. Sec. LaHood stated, “We have much to do, but we are not waiting to begin taking aggressive and meaningful action.” 

While the Congress has been working towards establishing comprehensive climate legislation, the DOT, EPA, and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have been collaborating to develop Federal policies that could help create sustainable communities. The aim is to support and shape state and local land use decisions and infrastructure investments to develop livable communities where people have the option to drive less. According to the DOT, on an average day American adults travel 25 million miles in trips of a half-mile or less and almost 60 percent use motor vehicles for this travel. Walking, biking, and riding transit, regardless of the area where an American might live, are excellent alternatives. “If the presence of these alternatives promotes less driving, then that will reduce road congestion, reduce pollutants and greenhouse gases, and use land more efficiently."

But where Sec. LaHood really became excited was when he started talking about new technologies, specifically passenger rail and plug-in cars.  The stimulus package allotted $8 billion for high-speed rail corridors and intercity passenger rail services. Though he told Senator Sanders that the funding was not enough, they were going to do all that they could with the funding: "Rail is an $8 billion priority" and hopefully that will grow.  LaHood stressed that as transportation is 30% of US emissions, reducing car use will directly reduce total US emissions. Recently on a trip to Detroit, LaHood had an opportunity to drive the Chevy Volt. Sounding a bit like a commercial, LaHood bragged out how well it drives concluding that "the Volt Is the way to the future." Indeed, advanced transportation technology will lead the US to emissions reductions; meaning, as Chevy would say, the future is electrifying.