Senate Committee Passes Harmful Highway Bill

Clean Air and Environmental Protections Steamrolled

WASHINGTON (November 12, 2003) -- The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today approved a proposed highway funding bill containing provisions that would increase air pollution -- harming public health -- and steamroll environmental review requirements, according to NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council). The bill's amendments represent a direct threat to Clean Air Act and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) protections.

"As it stands, this bill takes us back to a time when highways took precedence over health and people had little to no say in transportation decisions that affect their communities," said Deron Lovaas, deputy director of NRDC's Smart Growth Program. "It's hard to unbuild a road, so it's important to take the time to do it right rather than waive protections and loosen pollution laws just to speed up road construction."

One positive note, however, is that committee members narrowly approved a new six-year, $958 million dollar program to reduce water pollution due to runoff from transportation projects. This is important since nearly half the pollution in our waterways is due to runoff from roads and parking lots.

The proposed highway funding bill next goes to the full Senate floor for consideration. NRDC and other environmental organizations will continue the fight to strip the harmful provisions from the legislation.

"Congress should oppose any bill that uses highway dollars as a vehicle to bypass laws that protect our health and environment," added Lovaas.

For more details or for comment, contact Deron Lovaas at 202-289-2384.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 550,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.