Carper Bill: More Public Transit Means Less Greenhouse Gasses

WASHINGTON – Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) today introduced legislation to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by providing Americans with more public transit and other driving alternatives.

Sen. Carper’s legislation, “CLEAN TEA” or the Clean Low-Emissions Affordable New Transportation Equity Act, signals the time has come to address emissions from the transportation sector as part of the congressional climate change debate next year.

“We simply cannot hit our targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without addressing our nation’s growing public transportation needs,” Sen. Carper said. “The federal government must do more to support Americans’ efforts to get around safely and conveniently without a car, which, in turn, lowers greenhouse gas emissions, saves families money at the pump, and promotes a healthy lifestyle.”

CLEAN TEA provides low-emissions transportation options by directing cities with more than 200,000 residents and state departments of transportation to review their transportation plans and determine how they could reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This could be done through investments in a wide range of driving alternatives, including transit, intercity passenger rail, transit-oriented development, sidewalks and more. The bill then provides federal funding for projects in those transportation plans and will be distributed to states and localities based on the expected reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in each plan. States and cities with more ambitious plans, would receive greater funding.

This legislation is predicated on the adoption of a comprehensive climate change bill, such as the one considered by the Senate earlier this year, which would create a cap and trade program. Under such a system, overall greenhouse gas emissions would be capped and polluters would have to acquire credits at auction to emit greenhouse gases. Under CLEAN TEA, 10 percent of the funding generated through this auction would be used to create a more efficient transportation system and lower greenhouse gas emissions through strategies like:

  • funding new or expanded transit or passenger rail;
  • supporting development around transit stops; and
  • making neighborhoods safer for bikes and pedestrians.
Cars and trucks account for nearly 50 percent of the increase in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the past 25 years. To help combat this, last year, Congress called on oil companies to offer more renewable fuels and on car companies to offer more fuel-efficient cars.

“Fuel-efficient cars and clean fuels by themselves aren’t going to reduce greenhouse gases because Americans have to sit in more traffic and drive further to do the things they have to do,” Sen. Carper said. “CLEAN TEA would offer ways for people to get to work, the grocery, school and the doctor without having to buy expensive gasoline or emit toxins into the air.”