Environmental Protections Sideswiped: Transit Funding Survives

Statement by Deron Lovaas, Deputy Director, Smart Growth and Transportation Program, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council)

On passage of the Transportation Equity Act -- Legacy for Users (TEA-LU, H.R. 3550)

"This transportation bill is two small steps forward, but a large step back, and that would make a long commute for any American. Although it retains important commitments to America's commuters and parklands, it undercuts essential environmental and health protections.

"Our country deserves transportation legislation that preserves our quality of life. While the House bill fixes some of the Senate's anti-environmental provisions, it adds new problems of its own."

"The transportation bill limits the public's ability to challenge highway projects in their communities and restricts consideration of alternatives to highway projects. It allows key federal agencies to abdicate their responsibilities to conduct environmental reviews, and removes a longstanding safeguard against damage to historic resources. The House bill also excludes beneficial provisions in the Senate bill that would reduce stormwater pollution, suburban sprawl, and damage to wildlife.

"Thankfully, the House bill retains its past commitments to fund public transit. And the promise of transit must be kept to commuters who depend on it as their primary form of transportation. Improving transit means cleaner air, less traffic and less reliance on foreign oil.

"The House bill also retains key parkland protections, and its Clean Air Act provisions are significantly better than those proposed by the Senate.

"As the House and Senate now attempt to reach consensus, they should erase provisions that weaken air quality safeguards and natural resources and historic protections, and also maintain transit funding that benefits Americans nationwide."