Climate Change Bill Would Siphon Transportation Dollars…

AGC of America says the Senate climate change bill neglects efforts to cut traffic congestion and breaks a decades-long promise that transportation user fees will be dedicated to financing highway and transit improvements. AGC and transportation partners sent a letter to Senators Kerry and Lieberman warning that their bill fails to provide enough funding to the Highway Trust Fund to keep it solvent or pay for a multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill.

The Kerry-Lieberman bill The American Power Act places new pollution fees on the gasoline and diesel fuels used by cars and trucks without returning most of the revenue generated from that fee to improving our transportation system. AGC estimates these fees would generate at least $19.5 billion in revenue and divert at least 77 percent of the funds from on-road fuel consumption away from transportation investment. The bill will allocate $6.25 billion annually for transportation. Of that $6.25 billion $2.5 billion would go to the Highway Trust Fund - with a mandate to set aside funding for projects that decrease greenhouse gas emissions - while the rest of the money will be equally divided between the competitive federal TIGER grants and local land-use planning as laid-out in the CLEAN-TEA bill

In a statement Stephen Sandherr CEO of AGC of America said:

“While the nation’s transportation system was once the envy of the world today our aging roads and crowded transit systems are becoming increasingly inefficient. These inefficiencies undermine our quality of life and serve as a brake on economic growth. They also pose significant risks for our environment. For example traffic congestion needlessly wastes 2.8 billion gallons of fuel per year increasing transportation-related emissions of manmade greenhouse gases.

Given that we would expect any measure to improve the environment would support efforts to make our roads shipping corridors and transit services more efficient. After all researchers predict transportation-related CO2 emissions can be cut by 30 percent simply by easing transportation congestion. Unfortunately this bill doesn’t just ignore this opportunity to improve the environment; it actually makes the problem worse.

By diverting all but a small percentage of the new transportation fees to unrelated uses the bill neglects efforts to cut polluting traffic and wasteful congestion. Worse it breaks the decades-long promise that transportation user-fees will be dedicated to financing highway and transit improvements.

Under this bill commuters and shippers will be forced to pay more to use our highways even as conditions deteriorate traffic expands and pollution grows. The consequence will be to dilute and diminish support for transportation investments undermining efforts to pass a new multi-year transportation bill.

With virtually every independent expert saying we need to increase investments in our transportation infrastructure to cut congestion and remain globally competitive the last thing we can afford is to take the trust out of the Highway Trust Fund. This bill may be well-intended but in the end it leaves commuters businesses and the environment ill-served.”