Pulling Out ALL the Stops

A New York City blog saw me quoted in the Wall Street Journal on February 5th talking about the need to face pollution caused by ever-increasing driving of our cars and trucks.

As I told the reporter, there is growing interest among environmental groups, which makes sense in the wake of the success (finally!) of the multi-year struggle to boost average fuel economy of our vehicle fleet.

While I appreciate the passion about the need to address how much we drive, I want to re-emphasize what I've said here and here, among other places: Scaling up our response so that it's proportional to the epochal challenge posed by our combustion of liquid fossil fuel in transportation requires more efficient vehicle tech, cleaner energy as well as less traffic on our roads.

The next best time to tackle the last item, as I told Joe White at the Wall Street Journal, is in the federal transportation bill. This juggernaut, up for renewal in 2009, will invest hundreds of billions of dollars of federal gas tax revenue in plans and projects.

This infrastructure is the hardwiring that helps determine whether transportation helps or hinders our efforts to tackle climate change. One way to think of this is to compare a highway to a coal-fired power plant. Both will be around for decades, and both yield huge amounts of carbon dioxide pollution on a daily basis. We need to avoid locking in a high-pollution future via federal transportation investments.

I've worked on the issue of better investment of our tax dollars at NRDC and elsewhere, a necessary if insufficient means to provide Americans with more transportation choices so we aren't forced to spend so much of our day in traffic.

Happy that others care about this passionately too.