With "No Double-Dip" Deal, Biden Has Quietly Acquiesced To Enormous Climate Justice Cuts In Infrastructure Plans

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 31 Aug 2021 19:20:00 GMT


Pres. Biden announces bipartisan infrastructure deal with eight of the 21 white U.S. Senators who negotiated the package.
With the so-called “no double-dip” rule, President Biden and 21 senators have negotiated a deal on the Build Back Better agenda that threatens several of his major climate and racial justice initiatives. The senators, all of whom are white, protected industry priorities in their deal.

At risk include programs for restoring minority neighborhoods cleaved by racially unjust highway projects, cut 96 percent, and for replacing all the lead water pipes in the nation, cut 67 percent.

In May, Biden proposed $6 trillion in public investment ($5 trillion in new spending) over ten years, in the form of the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan, a $1.9 trillion American Families Plan, and about $1.5 trillion more in other spending.

Biden’s proposed plan was significantly smaller than that advocated by Green New Dealers, who called for $10 trillion in spending over ten years to build a just and sustainable economy.

After months of Senate negotiations, Biden’s plan was cut down to about $4.5 trillion, broken into two legislative components – a $1 trillion ($550 billion in new spending) bipartisan “physical infrastructure” package passed by the Senate by a filibuster-proof majority, and a $3.5-trillion reconciliation package intended to pass with only Democratic votes.

The bipartisan package is a fully detailed bill, while the reconciliation package, at least publicly, remains a top-level skeleton that remains to be fleshed out.

The bipartisan package includes nearly the full amounts requested by Biden for traditional fossil-fuel-intensive infrastructure: $110 billion for roads and bridges, $25 billion for airports, and $17 billion for waterways and ports. In addition, there is $16 billion to bail out oil and gas companies to clean up their abandoned wells.

The “double-dip” deal is this: any initiative which received any monies in the bipartisan package cannot receive more in the reconciliation package. As Politico reported on June 30:
The president said something really important the other day and nobody noticed. At his press conference celebrating the bipartisan infrastructure deal, Joe Biden suggested there would be no coming back for seconds: When it comes to spending on basic physical infrastructure (for roads, bridges, public transportation, etc.), the bipartisan deal is it. There will be no using the parallel, Democrats-only reconciliation package to spend more on those things than Republicans agreed to.

Instead, Biden indicated, the reconciliation bill is exclusively for stuff that Democrats want but Republicans oppose — like spending for family care, climate change and health care.

This may seem like a minor point, but it has big implications. On the left, some progressives have argued that they would simply add to the reconciliation bill anything that wasn’t fully funded in the bipartisan bill. That’s not happening. Biden wanted $157 billion for electric vehicles. The bipartisan bill spends $15 billion. He wanted $100 billion for broadband, and he secured $65 billion. From the White House’s perspective, these issues are now resolved and the reconciliation bill can’t be used to take another crack at them.

We checked with the White House, and officials confirmed that this interpretation is correct.

On the right, some conservatives have argued that voting for the bipartisan deal is pointless because Democrats will simply take what they can get from Republicans on highway spending or airports and then get the rest in the reconciliation bill.

But what’s actually happening is that the bipartisan bill is serving as a brake on what Biden can spend on core infrastructure.

In July, the Senate’s bipartisan package whittled $2.6 billion of Biden’s planned new spending down to $550 billion. Left out completely were major components of Biden’s plan that likely will be taken up in the reconciliation package, including housing, schools, clean energy tax credits, and home and community-based care.

However, because of the “no double-dip” deal Biden and the Senate negotiators made, the following programs face massive cuts that can’t be restored unless the deal is broken:
  • Reconnecting minority communities cut off by highway projects, cut 96% from $24 billion to $1 billion
  • Replacing the nation’s lead pipes, cut 67% from $45 billion to $15 billion
  • Investing in electric school buses, cut 87% from $20 billion to $2.5 billion
  • Repairing and modernizing public transit, cut 54% from $85 billion to $39 billion
  • Building electric vehicle charging stations, cut 50% from $15 billion to $7.5 billion
  • Upgrading and modernizing America’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems, cut 46% from $56 billion to $30 billion
  • Road safety, including “vision zero” programs to protect pedestrians, cut 45% from $20 billion to $11 billion
  • Broadband infrastructure, cut 35% from $100 billion to $65 billion
  • Investing in passenger and freight rail, cut 18% from $80 billion to $66 billion

This overall cut of nearly half of $441 billion in proposed spending disproportionately targets the urban and rural poor and minority “environmental justice” communities, despite the Biden administration’s stated plans of achieving justice through intentional spending. Biden’s plan was about one-third of what Green New Deal advocates have said is needed for these initiatives.

The Green New Deal Network, a coalition of over 100 organizations, is advocating for the restoration of these funds.

House Transportation Committee chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) is intending to challenge the “no double-dip” deal for programs under his jurisdiction, including high-speed rail, connecting neighborhoods, and water systems.

In contrast, the all-white team of 21 U.S. Senators who crafted this deal, led by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), approved Biden’s requested spending levels for highways, airports, waterways, and major bailouts for industrial polluters responsible for chemical and fracking cleanups.

Markup of Fiscal Year 2022 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Subcommittee Appropriations Bill

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 12 Jul 2021 21:00:00 GMT

H.R. 3684—INVEST in America Act, Amendment Consideration

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 29 Jun 2021 18:00:00 GMT

H.R. 3684: Text of Legislation

Markup of Water Quality and Transportation Investment Bills

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 09 Jun 2021 14:00:00 GMT

The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will hold a markup to consider H.R. 1915, the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021, and H.R. 3684, the INVEST in America Act.

The Green New Deal Network is supporting three of Rep. Chuy García’s amendments to H.R. 3684 – #026, to ensure public transit gets funding on par with roads and bridges, #027, to cut all forms of pollution from transportation, and #028, to fully electrify public transit buses and commuter trains.

“Giving the Department of Transportation a bunch of money for new highways is the climate equivalent of giving energy companies money to build new coal plants,” García tweeted.


Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute (ANS) to H.R. 1915, the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021 Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute (ANS) to H.R. 3684, the INVEST in America Act

Equity in Transportation Infrastructure: Connecting Communities, Removing Barriers, and Repairing Networks across America

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 11 May 2021 14:00:00 GMT

Hearing page

Witnesses;
  • Toks Omishakin, Director, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
  • Veronica Davis, Director, Transportation and Drainage Operations, City of Houston
  • Bill Panos, Director, North Dakota Department of Transportation
  • Steven Polzin Ph.D., Senior Consultant, former Senior Advisor for Research and Technology, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology, USDOT

Reducing Oil Dependence through Energy and Climate Policy

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 29 Apr 2010 19:00:00 GMT

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) invites you to a briefing to examine the potential effects of pending energy and climate legislation on the transportation sector and U.S. dependence on oil. Policies that create a sustained, stable, and predictable price on carbon for transportation fuels have the potential to promote fuel-efficient vehicles, low-carbon fuels, and more energy-efficient transportation decisions by businesses and consumers. However, how such a price is determined, how it is applied, and how generated revenues are used can greatly influence the benefits and costs of such a policy. This briefing will focus on the economic and environmental implications of alternative ways to reduce oil use and greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector and how key stakeholders are likely to respond. Speakers for this event include:
  • Dr. David Montgomery, Vice-President, Charles River Associates
  • Dr. Chad Stone, Chief Economist, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities
  • Dr. Adele Morris, Policy Director for Energy and Climate Economics, Brookings Institution
  • Dr. David Austin, Senior Economist, Congressional Budget Office
  • Jack Basso, Director of Program Finance and Management, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
  • James Corless, Director, Transportation for America
  • Patrick O’Connor, Legislative Counsel, NAFA Fleet Management Association

Fuel use in the transportation sector is widely regarded to be less sensitive to changes in price, relative to electricity and other sectors of the economy, due in part to limited availability of transportation options and substitutes for petroleum fuels. Recent swings in fuel prices, corresponding demand responses, and other research suggest, however, that modest price signals - especially sustained price signals - can spur investments in clean transportation and create significant benefits for the transportation sector. Options to create a carbon price through a fee on transportation fuels can be designed to be as effective and predictable as other policy options based on tradable allowances. Any revenues generated through such policies can be returned to consumers and businesses, reinvested in transportation infrastructure and advanced vehicle and fuel technology, or directed to a combination of public uses.

This briefing is free and open to the public. No RSVP required. For more information, please contact Jan Mueller at jmueller@eesi.org or (202) 662-1883.

Climate Change Policy and Transportation

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 22 Jul 2009 12:00:00 GMT

RSVP

Sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association.

Keynote Speakers:
  • Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, (D-Md.)
  • Sen. Thomas Carper, (D-Del.)
Panel:
  • Kevin Desmond, King County Metro Transit Division,Dept. of Transportation, Seattle
  • Deron Lovaas, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Caitlin Rayman, Maryland Department of Transportation
  • Daniel J. Weiss, Center for American Progress

Climate change is one of the most significant issues facing transportation today. Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation sources account for one-third of the emissions in the United States, and transportation accounts for 70 percent of U.S. oil consumption. With Congress debating the legislation this year, this event will take a 360-degree look at climate change proposals in the House and Senate and examine the impact they may have on our transportation system.

The Columbus Club at Union Station

50 Massachusetts Avenue

Washington, DC 20002

8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. – Breakfast and Conversation

8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. – Program

Climate 2030: A National Blueprint for a Clean Energy Economy

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 21 Apr 2009 15:00:00 GMT

On April 21, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) will release the results of a two-year study that found that the United States can significantly reduce carbon emissions and lower energy bills by implementing an emissions cap in conjunction with a suite of energy and transportation policies. UCS’s recommended approach is similar to the one proposed recently by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) in a draft discussion climate bill.

The UCS analysis, “Climate 2030: A National Blueprint for a Clean Energy Economy,” uses a modified version of the Department of Energy’s National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) and projects how UCS recommendations would reduce emissions and lower energy costs over the next 20 years. The analysis also provides projections of net business savings on energy and net consumer savings by household and region.

WHO
  • Kevin Knobloch, UCS president
  • Rachel Cleetus, UCS climate economist
  • Steve Clemmer, UCS Clean Energy Program research director
  • David Friedman, UCS Clean Vehicles Program research director

For the visual portion of UCS’s “webinar,” go to: cc.readytalk.com/r/i6a7q64a5vtw (please log in early to avoid any bottlenecks)

For the audio portion, call: 866-740-1260, access code: 3018025

An Overview of Transportation R&D: Priorities for Reauthorization

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 12 Feb 2009 15:00:00 GMT

On Thursday, February 12, 2009, the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation will convene a hearing to review the research, development, and deployment activities of the Department of Transportation. The hearing will focus on issues related to the funding, planning, and execution of current research initiatives and how these efforts fulfill the strategic goals of both Federal and State Departments of Transportation, metropolitan transportation organizations, and industry. With the expiration of SAFETEA-LU in FY2009, this hearing will also examine possible ways to improve the current Federal transportation effort.

Witnesses
  • Paul Brubaker, former Administrator of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • Dr. Elizabeth Deakin, Director of the University of California Transportation Center, University of California, Berkeley
  • Robert E. Skinner, Jr., Executive Director of the Transportation Research Board.
  • David Wise, Acting Director of Physical Infrastructure Issues, Government Accountability Office
  • Amadeo Saenz, Jr., Executive Director, Texas Department of Transportation

Overview

Signed in 2005, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) (P.L. 109-59) authorized a total of $2.227 billion through FY2009 for research and related programs under Title V of the bill. This Title authorizes surface transportation research by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), training and education programs, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the University Transportation Centers (UTCs), and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Research. The Science and Technology Committee’s jurisdiction over surface transportation research and development is based on House rules which grant the Committee jurisdiction over, “Scientific research, development, and demonstration, and projects therefore” and legislative precedent. Jurisdiction over these programs is shared with the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The Science and Technology Committee has a long referral history regarding surface transportation research and development (R&D) bills, including H.R. 860 in the 105th Congress and H.R. 242, and H.R. 243 in the 109th Congress. Elements of each of these bills were incorporated in the highway reauthorization bills for the respective Congresses.

Issues and Concerns

Planning, Coordination, and Evaluation of Research, Development, and Technology (RD&T)

Despite the creation of a specific RD&T coordinating agency within Department of Transportation (DOT) by the Mineta Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-426), and requirements in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) (P.L. 105-178) and SAFETEA-LU that DOT evaluate and coordinate its research programs, efforts in this regard continue to fall short. In 2003, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) evaluated the coordination and review efforts by the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA)1. RSPA had been created by the Secretary of Transportation to coordinate and review RD&T activity across the modal agencies. It was dissolved when the Mineta Act created the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) to fulfill largely the same functions. In the 2003 report, GAO found that efforts to locate duplicative programs and opportunities for cross-collaboration between the modal agencies were hampered by a lack of information on the RD&T activities being pursued across the modal agencies. GAO also found that DOT did not have a systematic method for measuring the results of federal transportation research activities, or a method to show how their research impacted the performance of surface transportation in the U.S. RSPA cited a lack of resources to perform these types of evaluations, and they also stated that each modal agency undertook its own evaluation of its research programs. GAO recommended that RSPA define metrics to evaluate the outcomes of its DOT-wide RD&T coordination efforts. In 2006, GAO did a follow-up evaluation of RD&T coordination and evaluation. They again offered similar recommendations, noting the continuing lack of common performance measures for DOT RD&T activities. However, at the time of that evaluation, RITA had just recently been established. GAO commended the initiative in RITA’s FY2007 budget request to devote $2.5 million to RD&T coordinating activities (an increase of nearly $2 million over the $536,000 spent by RSPA in FY06 on coordination).

In November of 2006, RITA submitted the Transportation Research, Development and Technology Strategic Plan for 2006-2010 to Congress. The Transportation Research Board (TRB), of the National Research Council, evaluated this plan and noted, “The strategic RD&T plan for 2006-2010 is a reasonable first effort. It offers useful descriptions of the many RD&T programs within the Department. At the same time, it is more a compendium of individual RD&T activities than a strategic plan that articulates department wide priorities and justifications for RD&T programs and budgets.” According to TRB, the plan lacked stakeholder input and also failed to identify how stakeholder input would be sought for strategic planning in research topic areas. It further failed to articulate the role and value of DOT’s RD&T activities; describe the process used for selecting research topics to ensure their relevance, quality, or performance; describe the expected outcomes from RD&T; and describe the process for monitoring performance. In TRB’s view, the plan, at a minimum should have explained the extent to which quantifiable goals, timetables, and performance measures would be part of RD&T programs.

The major surface transportation RD&T program of the FHWA has received similar criticisms regarding coordination and evaluation as DOT’s overall RD&T program. The program is highly decentralized, with research activities taking place in five out of the thirteen offices within the agency. In 2002, GAO reviewed FHWA’s R&D approach and urged that the agency “develop a systematic process for evaluating significant ongoing and completed research that incorporates peer-review or other best practices in use at Federal agencies that conduct research.” FHWA subsequently developed its Corporate Master Plan for Research and Deployment of Technology and Innovation, released in 2003. This document contains many overarching principles, such as measuring the performance of RD&T activities, but does not provide specific mechanisms through which FHWA will implement all of them. It is also unclear from FHWA’s RD&T Performance Plan for 2006/2007 if the many research projects listed have been evaluated for their use by the transportation community. Without such analysis, the information portrayed in these documents establishes outputs, but does not offer any outcomes.

Tech-Transfer

There is general agreement that the transfer of technology and new ideas from the R&D stage to deployment and adoption is slow. In testimony before this Committee in September of 2007, FHWA identified some of the contributing factors that slow the state and local adoption of new transportation technology, including insufficient information on the benefits versus the costs of new technologies; lack of confidence in new technologies or a lack of performance data; and a lack of incentive mechanisms to encourage the deployment of new technology. TRB Special Report 295, The Federal Investment in Highway Research, 2006-2009: Strengths and Weaknesses, notes the important role FHWA plays in educating state DOTs about new technologies and encouraging their adoption, noting such efforts as FHWA’s activities to identify, market, and track the deployment of market-ready technologies and incorporate a strategic plan for the deployment of pavement research activities. However, the funding for technology transfer activities at FHWA has suffered in recent years, falling from $100 million to $40 million after the passage of TEA-21. The report further notes, “The missing element among all of FHWA’s deployment activities appears to be the resources within the agency with explicit expertise in technology transfer and deployment that could provide guidance to the various efforts agency wide [sic].”

The Intelligent Transportation Systems program is a well studied example of transfer and deployment of R&D efforts. In 2005, GAO identified broad issues with DOT’s deployment goals for traffic management ITS, finding that the goals did not take into account the level of ITS needed to accomplish local objectives and priorities; did not reflect whether localities were operating the ITS as intended; and did not adequately capture the cost-effectiveness of ITS 7. Additional studies of ITS deployment have found that local officials are aware of ITS technologies but feel that the benefits are not adequately described.

Recommendations from TRB

With support from FHWA, TRB’s Research and Technology Coordinating Committee (RTCC) has periodically assessed the state of highway research and made recommendations to policy makers. In its recent report, TRB Special Report 295, The Federal Investment in Highway Research, 2006-2009: Strengths and Weaknesses, the RTCC evaluated the investments in highway R&D made under SAFETEA-LU. According to the report, transportation R&D is significantly under funded when compared with the R&D investments made in other industrial sectors. Also, the report recommended that the matching requirement for UTCs be adjusted from 50-percent to 20-percent. According to the RTCC, if UTCs relied less on state DOTs and others for matching funds, they would be free to pursue longer-term advanced research topics and move away from applied research that could be handled elsewhere. The RTCC recommended that FHWA’s Exploratory Advanced Research Program continue as well, and that a larger percentage of the agency’s research budget go toward advanced research. Additionally, the report states that all research grants, including those to UTCs, should be made on a competitive, merit-reviewed basis. The RTCC recommended that FHWA be given more resources to engage stakeholders and carry out technology transfer activities. FHWA should be given the resources to take the lead in establishing an ongoing process whereby the highway community can set these priorities. Finally, the RTCC noted that the Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP 2) was funded significantly less than stakeholders had requested, and recommended that it continue to receive funding for another two years. TRB states many recommendations but does not provide specific mechanisms to accomplish them.

Public Health, Climate Change, and Federal Transportation Policy

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 14 Jan 2009 18:30:00 GMT

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) invites you to a briefing to examine the public health impacts and costs associated with transportation in the United States. The briefing will address how federal transportation infrastructure policies can improve public health and mitigate climate change at the same time. Panelists will include:

  • Lawrence Frank, PhD, Professor, Sustainable Transportation Program, University of British Columbia
  • Patrick Kinney, ScD, Associate Professor, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
  • Thomas Gotschi, PhD, Director of Research, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
  • Jenelle Krishnamoorthy, PhD, Professional Staff, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
  • Susan Abramson, MHS, Director, Public Health Policy Center, American Public Health Association

The transportation sector is associated with multiple public health risk factors – adding billions of dollars to our national healthcare bill – while accounting for approximately 28 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. This briefing will explore an emerging body of research documenting local, regional and national health impacts from transportation and implications for addressing transportation-related impacts on climate change.

Exposure to air pollution from vehicles has been linked to premature deaths, cancer, asthma, and other lung ailments. Time spent driving and limited options to walk or bike have been shown to be significant risk factors for health problems associated with physical inactivity, such as stress and obesity, which have reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Many of these impacts, asthma and obesity in particular, disproportionately affect children. Recent studies suggest that climate change will exacerbate many of these impacts, however, transportation strategies to address these public health concerns have proven effective measures to help mitigate climate change.

Federal economic stimulus legislation as well as anticipated federal transportation, climate, and energy bills are all important opportunities to address the public health impacts and costs associated with transportation as well as energy security and climate protection goals. Key questions to be addressed include:

  • What are the public health impacts associated with transportation?
  • What are the opportunities to simultaneously address climate change and different public health impacts associated with transportation?
  • What transportation policy options would be most appropriate and effective to address both public health and climate change goals?

This briefing is free and open to the public. No RSVP required. For more information, contact Jan Lars Mueller at (202) 662-1883 or jmueller@eesi.org.

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