Bad ideas abound in the House Transportation Bill released this week, and green transportation activists are rightly miffed. The proposed bill would slash funding for federally-mandated bike and pedestrian programs, and use the funds made available for highway improvements. It would also increase the size of trucks allowed on highways, and reduce the amount of time required for environmental surveys of highway projects. And where will they get the money for all of these highway projects? In addition to stealing it from bike and pedestrian programs, the bill will be partly funded by drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the largest protected wilderness in the United States.
And why would we do such a thing? As usual, the Republican justification is jobs. According to House Representatives, more highway projects and ANWR drilling will create jobs, which is exactly what we need. But wouldn't bike and pedestrian projects also create more jobs? And if jobs are leading to declines in biodiversity and increases in carbon levels in the atmosphere, do we really consider them to be successful?
Clearly this House Transportation Bill as a very bad idea. It seems unlikely that it would make through Congress, but it is a good thing to keep an eye on.