August 31, 2009
Re: Washington Watch Federal Update
I. CLEAN-TEA (Transportation Policy Legislation)Dear Mayor:
II. EECBG and Climate Change Legislation
League President, Mayor Tim McDonough of Hope, has recently contacted Senators Lautenberg and Menendez on two key issues that will very likely come before Congress, when Federal Legislators return to the Capitol after Labor Day. We invite you to contact our United States Senators and your own Congressman, to express your municipality’s perspective on these.
I. CLEAN-TEA (Transportation Policy Legislation)The New Jersey State League of Municipalities supports S. 575, the Clean, Low-Emission, Affordable, New Transportation Efficiency Act (CLEAN-TEA), which will enable cities, towns, townships, boroughs and villages, as well as the country, to make significant progress in our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging energy efficient transportation solutions.
Sustainability is a defining issue of our time, with challenges including the threat of climate change, increase demand for energy and diminishing natural resources. Local governments have a central role to play in developing solutions to meet these challenges. We must accomplish the difficult task of expanding the transportation network’s capacity to serve a growing population and an expanding economy while simultaneously reducing the carbon footprint of the system.
With the transportation sector accounting for approximately 28 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, federal transportation policy must be integrated with our country’s energy and environmental policies to decrease reliance on foreign oil, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigate adverse public health impacts.
Accordingly, the League supports pursuing a strategic, national transportation plan that includes a multimodal network that promotes the environmental, social, and economic development of our country. Additionally, we support dedicating a portion of the funds generated from a carbon emissions auction system toward energy efficient transportation solutions, including transit operation and capital, passenger and freight rail, and bicycle and pedestrian improvements. Funding dedicated toward these transportation programs will enable local governments to make critical enhancements to the livability of our communities and our country by relieving traffic congestion, stimulating environmentally and transit-friendly development, and creating good-paying jobs.
A partnership between local, state and federal governments is the best way to confront the threat of climate change for our nation, our municipalities, and our citizens.
II. EECBG and Climate Change LegislationThe League supports the purposes of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454), which are to “create clean energy jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce global warming pollution and transition to a clean energy economy.” We believe, however, that the bill does not go far enough in assisting local governments in our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the potentially unavoidable effects of climate change. Additionally, the bill raises concern about the preemption of local authority, particularly in the area of building code adoption.
As the issue proceeds for Senate consideration, we have urged our Senators to dedicate a portion of the anticipated ‘cap-and-trade revenue’ to support the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant and to support energy efficient transportation solutions. Additionally, we call for language from the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s original draft that would create a Climate Change Adaptation Fund to provide federal support for state, local and tribal adaptation projects.
The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) provides a foundation for local energy efficiency and conservation strategies, which represent the most cost effective and immediate form of greenhouse gas reductions. With the transportation sector accounting for nearly one third of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, steps must be made not only to increase fuel efficiency, but also to decrease vehicle miles traveled, by providing people with safe, convenient and energy efficient transportation options. While the House-passed climate change bill allows states to use up to 1 percent of their allocations for transit and other energy efficient transportation options, we recommend increasing the percentage allowed and directing the money to local governments and metropolitan planning organizations, where most of the planning, strategy development and project implementation occurs. Supporting these programs with a dedicated source of funding will enable cities and towns to continue and expand efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve energy, implement energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, and create more livable communities while strengthening our economy.
Additionally, a successful national climate protection strategy must not only focus on mitigating the effects of climate change, but also on adaptation measures that are necessary to prepare municipalities and residents for those changes that may not be possible to avoid. Many communities are already proactively planning for sea-level rise that will impact airports, roads and rail lines; extreme weather events such a heat waves, droughts, wildfires, heavy precipitation and strong storms; and food shortages due to pest infestations and plant disease. The range of adaptation issues must be uniquely addressed by each local government, many of which they have never experienced before or that were once relegated to other parts of the country. The breadth and severity of these threats require the assistance and resources of the federal government.
Finally, developing and enforcing building codes is a fundamental responsibility that local government officials take seriously to protect the health, safety and welfare of their residents. We strongly encourage the federal government to resist including provisions in this legislation that would interfere or undermine these responsibilities and fail to take into account local needs and circumstances.
We are hopeful the Senate will consider including these important provisions in the Senate climate change legislation. A partnership among local, state and federal governments is the best way to confront the threat of climate change on our nation, our municipalities, and our citizens.
For more information on these matters, contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.