Considering my recent uptick in searches related to Todd Litman, win-win emission reduction strategies and federal implementation of New Urbanism, some of you may have already heard about this. Nonetheless, here is Todd Litman’s latest Planetizen article on the US Department of Transportation‘s Earth Day release of their report, Transportation’s Role in Reducing US Greenhouse Gas Emissions. This shows a shift in policy away from simply advocating the creation and buying of more energy-efficient vehicles, since this has little long-term effect on emissions and none on other problems such as congestion, accidents, and sedentary living. This report evaluated the net costs of implementing different transportation strategies, and found the following to be most effective:
Not only do these save money in reducing carbon emissions, but they also reduce congestion, parking costs, consumer costs, accidents, energy costs, and sprawl, while improving public health and mobility for non-drivers. Litman says that the savings estimates may be conservative, because the study relied on out-dated data about how much can be saved by vehicle reductions and the benefits of pay-as-you-drive insurance. Even with these conservative estimates though, it is exciting to see the federal government recognizing the importance of transportation and planning policy in reaching other goals.
Elana Schor of Streetsblog brings us this story on Congress’ new plan for funding transit-oriented development. Senator Chris Dodd and others presented the bill that would give $4 billion in grants to cities that want to improve TOD, bike and pedestrian transport, and other green transportation projects. Part of the purpose of this legislation is to aid the Sustainable Communities efforts of HUD, the EPA and DOT. The grants would be administered by an office within HUD. There are two parts of this initiative. Schor writes:
The first, slated for $400 million over four years, would help states and cities implement regional plans that integrate sustainable housing, transportation, and community development.
The second, slated for $3.75 billion over three years, would assist localities in making their plans materialize, from affordable housing to bike-ped access. Both grant programs would need to be separately funded through appropriations bills, but authorizing the spending is a crucial first step.
The house has yet to come up with a comparable bill, but hopefully this will help strengthen some of the efforts of this administration to create more sustainable communities.
Elana Schor of Streetsblog brings us this article on what Congress is doing to facilitate TOD and other smart planning programs. She says that this “kumbaya movement”–where Transportation, HUD, and EPA have put aside their differences to accomplish shared goals–are working with Senator Dodd of the Banking panel to “provide incentives for regions to plan future growth in a coordinated way that reduces congestion, generates good-paying jobs, meets our environmental and energy goals, protects rural areas and green space, revitalizes our Main Streets and urban centers, creates and preserves affordable housing, and makes our communities better places to live, work, and raise families.” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said, “Pedestrians are a good indicator species for a healthy community. We’re all about building a healthy community of pedestrians.” And HUD secretary Shaun Donovan presented his plans for an affordability index, which would include the monetary and environmental costs of transportation along with the actual real estate value of a home. These are all great things. Now we just need to hope that they can actually make it through both chambers of Congress and actually become law.