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November 17, 2011

The Road to Oil Addiction

TrafficToday House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced that the House of Representatives would consider a transportation bill would directly tie the future of our transportation infrastructure to a deepening addiction to oil. In a press conference, the Speaker laid out a plan that would fund our roads, bridges and transit systems over the next five years. The catch – he and other House Republicans want to pay for this investment by dramatically increasing oil drilling throughout the country.

The Speaker is right that we desperately need to invest in our crumbling transportation infrastructure, but wrong in suggesting that we must sacrifice our environment to do so.

Our addiction to oil is threatening our climate, our coasts, and our wallets. Transportation, driven primarily by our passenger cars and trucks, consumes roughly two-thirds of oil used nationwide and is responsible for roughly one-third of our nation's carbon pollution. At the same time, nearly half of Americans lack access to public transit, forcing them to pay any price at the pump to get around.

Instead of offering a plan to upgrade our infrastructure into the 21st century, Speaker Boehner laid out a one-two punch that will leave us addicted to oil for decades to come.

On top of tying increased transportation investment to increased oil drilling, as I blogged earlier, House Republicans have previously proposed transportation policies that would slash investments in clean transportation choices, such as passenger rail, biking and rolling back critical elements of the environmental review process. Second, Speaker Boehner would tie increased transportation investment to increased oil drilling.

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and pipeline spills into Montana's Yellowstone River and Michigan's Kalamazoo River provide vivid reminders of the impact of oil drilling on our environment and our communities. Speaker Boehner's plan would put some of our nation's wildest places, such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, at risk.

Now is the time for the House to get serious about crafting a transportation bill for the 21st century that provides Americans with transportation choices. The Senate has already begun to act on a bipartisan 2-year transportation bill that will take strides to invest in our roads and bridges and help cities and states plan for a future with clean transportation choices, such as transit, biking and walking.

It is time for the Speaker Boehner and the House of Representatives to work on a transportation bill that moves us forward, not one that serves as a wish list for Big Oil.

-- Jesse Prentice-Dunn, Associate Washington Represenative for the Sierra Club Green Transportation Campaign


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