“Business-as-usual is building bad highways and breaking our planet–we can build smarter, safer, and healthier systems if we factor climate impacts and emissions into our decision-making process,” said Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts. Markey is currently working with other Democratic senators to implement new greenhouse gas emission-reducing legislation.
This bill, named the Generating Resilient (and) Environmentally-Exceptional National–or ‘GREEN’–Streets Act, and would boost state standards in relation to greenhouse gas emissions throughout America’s roadways and regarding vehicles’ per capita miles traveled.
“I’m reintroducing the GREEN Streets Act with [Senator Tom Carper] and [Representative Jared Huffman] to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the national highway system and help states adapt to the adverse effects of climate change,” Markey said recently in a tweet.
Markey also works as a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which overlooks policies in regards to surface transportation.
“We can advance the goals of clean energy, climate process, and healthy communities, as well as fortify ourselves against the adverse impacts of climate change,” Markey continued. “An essential component of that effort is to re-envision how we plan for, construct, and maintain our national highway system, [by] using climate measures that matter, and [ensuring] that we hold systems accountable.”
This new legislation would work to push for minimum state agency standards to be established at the hands of the transportation secretary. These standards, which would prioritize the overall decline of greenhouse gas emission allowance and per capita vehicle miles traveled, would also call for state reduction and assessment metrics.
Ideally, states would be able to delegate specific highway funding for compliance, and be required, along with Metropolitan Planning Organizations, to permit strategies and infrastructure projects that could help them bring about vehicle miles traveled-reducing and emissions-reducing capabilities throughout the entire transportation industry.
“When we look at building back better and addressing climate change, our nation’s highways present us with an incredible opportunity,” noted Environment and Public Works Committee chairman, Senator Tom Carper of Delaware. “We need to establish bold goals for reducing transportation emissions and to deliver safe, reliable, zero-emission travel choices for the public. Our bill would set the bar for states to encourage them to reduce vehicles emissions while improving health and reducing congestion in the process.”
In addition to the GREEN Bill, Markey proposed further legislation–the Connecting America’s Active Transportation System Act, which would seek an annual grant of $500 million for state, regional, and local agencies alike to work toward a focus upon biking and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure. A big upswing in non-vehicle mobility could lead to a much larger reduction of emission pollution and traffic congestion–as well as boosted safety for these kinds of travelers–according to supporters of the bill.
“Pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities are on the rise, and expanding active transportation networks will help address the national safety crisis on our streets,” explained Markey.
Sufficient federal funding would also allow for a wider range of transportation possibilities to become more accessible for everyone, he added.
“At the same time, significant federal investment in active transportation will help address the climate crisis by reducing driving emissions, as well as ensure that all individuals, no matter their age or ability, can reach their destinations through affordable and healthy travel options,” Markey continued.
Many of these bills’ supporters note that the current infrastructure and emissions issues in their particular states are especially in need of modern, healthier, and more universally-beneficial upgrades.
“Alaska’s transportation systems are in need of expansion, and building and connecting pedestrian and trail networks [are] an important part of bringing our infrastructure into the 21st century,” said Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan. “This legislation will provide opportunities to compete for significant funding to complete and further expand trails.”
Other backers of Markey’s bills include co-sponsors such as Senators Alex Padilla of California, Dianne Feinstein of California, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Jeffrey Merkley of Oregon, and Bernie Sanders; as well as house sponsors like Representatives Grace Napolitano of California, Bill Foster of Illinois, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri.