Statements and Speeches
WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, attended the hearing, “Legislative Issues for Transportation Reauthorization.” For more information or to watch a webcast of the hearing, click here. A copy of Sen. Carper’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, follows:
“Many of us have been eagerly awaiting details of the Committee’s bipartisan proposal to address our nation’s transportation needs, so today’s discussion is a step in the right direction.
“We are living in a time when, as legislators, we must be thoughtful about each expenditure of taxpayer money. Many of my colleagues on this panel have said that we must do more with less, and I agree with that. However, if we fail to act to renew our transportation program at baseline levels, we’d likely lose more than 2,300 jobs in Delaware. We’d also be putting at risk the high quality transportation system we have spent decades building. This would make it more difficult and more expensive for people to get to work and for companies to do business.
“I believe that if something is worth having, it’s worth paying for. It’s worth it to America to have a better transportation system, so I couldn’t agree more with both Chairwoman Boxer and Ranking Member Inhofe that our infrastructure is worth investing in. Your proposal recognizes that investment is necessary to improve the deteriorating condition of our nation’s infrastructure, to build for the future, and to put the construction industry back to work. As many experts have pointed out, the proposed investment levels are justified, though they still are probably lower than they should be.
“However, this bill is about more than just funding levels. Doing more with less means working smarter to maximize the benefits of the investments we make. To truly do more with less, we need to invest in smarter planning tools that can target investments toward projects that offer communities the highest return. We need to implement performance-driven programs to ensure we are hitting our goals for transportation investment.
“Of the details that have been released, there are many aspects of this proposal that get at this goal. For example, more comprehensive transportation planning will help us to best target investments, maximizing return on our investment. By consolidating programs, your proposal provides states with greater flexibility to build a multi-modal transportation network. It also allows us to monitor the performance of these programs, ensuring that investments yield real progress toward repairing our existing assets, improving safety, and reducing congestion. This kind of smarter planning and performance management will help us get a better result for lower costs.
“On the other hand, there is another area in the transportation sector in which we need to improve performance: oil consumption. 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 percent of that oil is imported from foreign countries. The negative effects of that dependence on the environment and on our national security have been well-documented before this Committee.
“MAP-21 offers us a golden opportunity to choose a path that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We need a transportation system that does not force all Americans to spend a full week of every year stuck in traffic. Some of this can be accomplished by better management of our roads and highways. For example, we just added new, state-of-the-art high speed tollbooths on I-95 in Delaware, which has cut congestion and delays and reduced oil use and emissions every day.
“But we need to go further by building a transportation system that allows Americans to reduce the amount that they have to drive each day. Like those who live in nearly all other wealthy nations, Americans - under their own free will – should be able to travel by high speed train, local transit, or to live closer to their place of employment. But since many Americans lack access to viable alternatives to driving, the demand for oil will only continue to grow. That’s why, a few weeks ago, I was proud to cosponsor Senator Merkley’s Oil Independence for a Stronger America Act, which included my CLEAN-TEA legislation, and would get America off Middle East oil by 2030.
“I hope that we can work together to address this issue as this bill moves forward. This bill is critically important to America’s economic health at home and competitiveness abroad. I look forward to working with you and the members of this Committee to ensure that we pass a bill that makes best use of the resources available to address our nation’s transportation, economic, and energy challenges.”