Transit and the Climate Bill

Photo by Extra Medium, <a href="">via Flickr</a>.

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

If a gas tax is included in a climate and energy bill, will it actually achieve the desired goals of reducing emissions and oil use? From what the three senators devising the plan have said, probably not. Now eight senators are calling for the revenues from a tax to be invested in programs that do much more to cut planet-warming emissions.

Lead author Tom Carper (D-Del.) in a letter sent to Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on Monday caling for the revenue to be “reinvested into infrastructure strategies that will reduce transportation emissions and oil consumption,” they write. The bill should send the money to transportation projects, both for roads and public transit, and require the states and city planning organizations who receive funds to set goals for both greenhouse gas emissions and oil reduction. And in doling out the funds, the government should evaluate whether projects demonstrate savings in both areas.

The senators cite a recent study from the University of Massachusetts that found that every $1 billion of investment in transportation can create 23,000 jobs — a job-creation rate 36 percent higher than investments in things like incentive programs for renewable energy production. It could also save consumers significant amounts of money, the senators write. The Department of Transportation currently needs another $30 billion just to maintain current systems; a real improvement in our infrastructure would require another $75 billion in investment, they write.

Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Michael Bennet (D-Col.) also signed the letter.

The Obama administration’s plan to reduce automobile emissions, issued last week, is a good start. But unless the climate bill triggers other meaningful reductions in transportation-related pollution, it will miss a huge opportunity to address the linked problem of emissions and oil dependence.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend