Transportation Efficiency Act to Reduce VMT

Washington, DC (March 5, 2009)- H.R. 1329 the Clean, Low-Emission, Affordable, New Transportation Efficiency Act is a bill aimed at supporting efforts by States and eligible local and regional entities to develop and implement plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. The main goals of the bill are threefold: increase mobility options, reduce number of miles traveled by motor vehicles (VMT), and reduce the use of petroleum-derived transportation fuel.

Bill Status:
March 5, 2009- Introduced to House
March 5, 2009- Referred to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
However, this legislation is savvy enough to specifically cite green options for how this can happen including adding sidewalks, crosswalks, bicycle paths, greenways, and other alternative strategies to encourage pedestrian and bike travel. In developed settings greenways not only encourage alternative modes of transportation, but also creates usable open areas, cooler communities through shade trees, healthier neighborhoods through the capture of air pollutants, and more livable communities by buffering against the noise and heat radiating from buildings and streets.
We encourage ACT members to pursue this federal legislation as a means to encourage local implementation of greenways and tree planting. Talk to your city, county, and state governments, and alert them that such funds may be available to help establish greenways in your community. Greenways need to be viewed as part of the infrastructure, and just as important as roads or utilities.
From 2012 to 2050, this bill sets aside 10% of the revenues from cap and trade auctions to be redistributed to approved mitigation plans by local entities that represent a population of 200,000+ individuals. This is likely to yield $5 million per state minimum (in a pilot, Maryland has already raised $16.7 million).
Next Steps:
You don’t have to wait for this legislation to be enacted to start the process going locally. Take these actions now:
* Write to your U.S. Representatives and ask them to support H.R. 1329. See the sample letter of support.
* Develop a prioritized plan for where greenways can be located in your community. Make sure to consult with the agencies that oversee environmental, transportation, housing, economic development, and land use planning. Also consider how your plan impacts air quality and stormwater mitigation and access to jobs targets. Other questions to consider:

  • Can you provide signage for sponsor support?
  • What will be the maintenance requirements?
  • Tree campaign
  • Will there be an educational aspect (interpretive signage, etc.)?
  • Is parking necessary or is this to connect communities?
  • Will it be wheelchair-accessible?
  • Has an ecological assessment been done?
  • Are there enough natural resources professionals- horticulturalists, foresters, and landscape architects- are on staff to manage this?
  • * Assemble a coalition of local stakeholders and set a timeline for a collaborative dialogue and design process that includes public comments. Urban forest organizations understand the physical and political landscape of their communities, and can easily work with a variety of local organizers, leaders, and residents.
    Related Resources:
    H.R. 1329- Clean, Low-Emission, Affordable, New Transportation Efficiency Act
    Draft Letter of Support to Congress
    Health Benefits of Parks
    Importance of Greenways