CHICAGO— This afternoon, Representative John Mica (R-FL), Chairman of the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, officially introduced a major transportation reauthorization bill. The overall plan for the bill includes proposals to open the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, and to open landscapes in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming to oil shale extraction.
At the same time, it cuts all funding for biking and walking safety and cripples environmental review for transportation projects. On top of this, Speaker of the House John Boehner has said that he would attach approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to this bill if it were not otherwise immediately approved.
Bruce Ratain, Clean Energy Associate with Environment Illinois, issued the following response:
“America's addiction to oil imposes mounting costs to our environment, economy, national security and health. But it doesn’t have to be this way – we can invest in clean, efficient travel choices such as public transit that will move our nation away from oil and toward a brighter, healthier future.
"Transportation is currently responsible for one-third of our global warming pollution and two-thirds of our dangerous dependence on oil. Projects such as expanded and improved bus and rail systems, as well as biking and walking pathways, give commuters the chance to escape our heavily congested highways and choose smarter, cleaner transportation options that clean up our air and get our nation off oil.
“The bill introduced by Representative Mica today in the House of Representatives drives us down to the dead end of too many oil spills, too much air pollution, and destroying the places we love. It reads like a wish list for Big Oil, including:
· Deepening our oil dependence: slashing programs for biking and walking safety, while continuing to underfund transit;
· Destroying our most pristine wilderness areas: drilling in protected places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and opening development for even dirtier, more hazardous sources of oil like oil shale extraction in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah that will endanger nearby drinking water while destroying landscapes and pumping out air pollution at truly alarming rates; and
· Pumping toxic tar sands into the U.S.: Speaker Boehner has stated that he would attempt to force the approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline through this bill, further deepening our addiction to ever more toxic, high risk forms of oil.
“America has waited long enough--for the sake of our planet, our troops, our children's health, and every American struggling to pay for gas, it's time to get our nation off of oil. We need a smarter, cleaner transportation future, not this destructive proposal that drives us down a road to deeper oil dependence. The House of Representatives should reject this bill.”