Statements and Speeches
Opening Statement: "Opportunities to Improve Energy Security and the Environment through Transportation Policy"
COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS
Mar 26 2010
Chairman Boxer, thanks for holding this hearing on the nexus of energy, environment and transportation policy.
As a nation, we consume 20 million barrels of oil per day – nearly all of which goes to our petroleum-dependent transportation system. More than 60% of that oil is imported from foreign countries. This imbalance of domestic production and imports creates a harmful dependence upon other countries for our energy. The negative effects of that dependence on the environment and on our national security has been well-documented before this Committee.
In March, Senator Specter and I introduced CLEAN TEA, which seeks to reduce oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. Four other colleagues on this Committee have signed on to the bill. And, I would like to applaud Chairman Boxer for including the legislation in her climate change bill.
Over the past few years, Congress and this Administration have taken bold steps to reduce emissions from transportation.
In 2007, we increased CAFE standards to 36 miles per gallon by 2020. Thanks to the Obama Administration, we will reach that level by 2016. These changes alone will reduce oil consumption by a million barrels per day.
Congress has also adopted a Renewable Fuels Standard to reduce the carbon content of gasoline. And, we have invested billions of dollars in electric vehicles.
These measures will take important steps towards reducing our energy dependence and protecting the environment. However, we need to go further.
We need a new transportation paradigm that fully embraces energy and environmental concerns. We need a transportation system that does not force all Americans to spend a full week of every year stuck in traffic. We need a transportation system that allows Americans - under their own free will - to travel by high speed train, to have better intercity bus service, or to live closer to their place of employment.
The members of this Committee have worked hard to make sure that climate legislation has a transportation focus. We have more work to do on that front, but I am confident that my colleagues in the Senate understand the necessity of reducing transportation emissions through a suite of policy changes – including my CLEAN TEA bill.
In addition to a climate bill with a transportation focus, we need a transportation bill with a climate focus. This Committee has heard from a number of experts about the need to re-focus our transportation systems around a set of national goals. I believe that the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and of oil consumption should be two of the goals that define our transportation investments.
I look forward to working with Chairman Boxer and my colleagues on this Committee to transform that aspiration into reality.