The Illinois General Assembly passed two bills last week designed to increase the use of green infrastructure in stormwater management practices, which will provide multiple benefits to Illinois communities as we continue to experience heavy rainstorms.
Green infrastructure helps to reduce flooding by increasing the natural absorption of stormwater into the ground and uptake by plants. In addition, green infrastructure practices and projects can capture water for use in irrigation, reduce water pollution in our lakes and streams, save energy and money in our stormwater management systems, improve air quality, and increase land values by beautifying our communities.
The current transportation authorization expires next Saturday, June 30. The original bill, which expired nearly 1,000 days ago, has already been renewed 9 times. In an effort to create a bill with majority support and to avoid the 10th renewal of the bill, the Senate created a bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK). MAP-21 was passed with support from Democrats and Republicans from every region of the country, not an easy task to accomplish, but the House is preventing further advancement by pushing their radical agenda onto the Senate’s bill.
In an effort to speed up projects and cut any red tape, MAP-21 lays out reforms for project reviews and the delivery processes. These reforms still allow taxpayers the ability to play a role in projects that will influence their community and health. The House, however, has different ideas. They have proposed project streamlining, which eliminates the rights of local citizens and elected officials to be involved in shaping transportation projects.
MAP-21 consolidates small programs like Transportation Enhancement (TE) and Safe Routes to School into a single program that provides funding to local communities for projects to improve safety, revitalize communities, and improve the environment. This program allows decisions over local issues to be made locally, by people that know them best. The House, however, wants to prevent local input by eliminating these programs all together, which puts the safety of America’s roadways at risk.
In today’s economy when the unemployment rate is 8.2%, job creation is on the mind of every American. Some members of the House want to cut the funding measures for job creation laid out in MAP-21. This would reduce the projected 3 million jobs by an unthinkable 500,000, and shows the blatant disregard for Americans’ well-beings.
Members of the House are intent on changing the Senate’s bill, but their bill never made it to the floor for a vote, and it failed to dedicate any money to road and bridge repair. The Senate’s bill, however, increases funding for these repairs above even what the current law has allotted.
As if this was not enough, the House is pushing to add the Keystone XL pipeline project to the bill, a measure that will surely prevent its implementation. President Obama has previously stated that he will veto any bill with the Keystone XL pipeline project, so the proposed addition would serve only to cripple any attempt at passing a new transportation bill.
MAP-21 is the clearest path forward and offers the best chance at a bi-partisan supported bill. Without a committee consensus, the threat of shut down becomes increasingly possible. The continued failure to compromise and pass a bi-partisan supported bill puts the creation of millions of jobs and the safety of our roads, bridges, and transit systems in jeopardy.
I urge you to ask your Representatives to talk to members of the Transportation Conference Committee. Tell Conferees to stop trying to compromise the integrity of the Senate’s bi-partisan supported bill. Remind your members of Congress that the Conference Committee should be focusing on the job creation and long-term economic benefits for their constituents, rather than on their political careers and the upcoming election. And urge your Senators and Representatives to support MAP-21.
Photo by Steven Vance - http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesbondsv/
If the House Ways and Means Committee’s proposed transportation bill passes as currently drafted, it stands to fundamentally alter transportation policy as we know it and roll back mass transit funding by 30 years.
This unprecedented move kicks transit funding out of the Highway Trust Fund and into the annual appropriations process, which means that every year transit will have to compete against all federal domestic spending. Meanwhile, funding for highways would go back to having all the user fee funding— as it was until the Reagan Administration, despite clear evidence over decades of transit’s contribution to congestion relief, clean air, among other benefits.Read more »
Finally! The long overdue transportation reauthorization bill is at last going somewhere. Three years ago, CNT and our national partners, such as Transportation for America, began working with various users and operators of our transportation systems, business leaders, and political leaders to gather information about what worked and what did not work in the last national transportation legislation.
We shared what we learned with Members of Congress, who are responsible for the re-authorization and funding of the federal transportation legislation. The U.S. House of Representatives has released its transportation bill to the public. They listened to some of what we told them, but they failed to address some crucial needs. In particular, it looks like they forgot that this is supposed to be a transportation bill that serves all users of the transportation network—transit riders, cyclists, pedestrians, car sharers—and assures that they get where they are going safely. The bill as drafted fails to do that. Read more »
The Illinois House of Representatives passed a bill last week that will give counties and municipalities more flexibility in using green infrastructure to address costly flooding problems for businesses and homeowners. HB 3372 would allow counties to establish systems that encourage the use of green infrastructure—using trees, green roofs, porous pavement and other techniques to filter rainwater—on private and public property. The bill would also allow counties to adopt a schedule of fees—after a referendum— to provide a dedicated revenue source to pay for ongoing stormwater management services and activities.Read more »
As the national debate on smart grid technologies rages, Illinois’ real-time pricing programs can serve as a valuable lesson to the nation. These programs have reduced participant’s electric usage and bills and are shifting usage to non-peak times of day, when electricity is cheaper to produce and our infrastructure is less congested. However, to lower electricity prices and improve reliability for everyone, the programs must have enough participants to significantly impact electricity markets. So far, Illinois’ programs have not garnered as much participation as anticipated. Consequently, they are not living up to their potential to benefit customers.Read more »
President Obama’s reform-minded federal transportation budget released earlier this week gave us a lot to respond to (Read it here). Of course the federal budget deals with much more than transportation, including issues that CNT staff research and advocate for on a daily basis. Read on for our initial thoughts on the Obama Administration’s proposals for energy efficiency, electric vehicles, green infrastructure and climate change. Read more »
Sustainable development is economic development. That was the mantra when CNT put together a package of 22 policy recommendations for Chicago’s next mayor. The Mayoral Playbook makes the case for how Chicago’s next leaders can apply sustainable development principles to strengthen the city’s economy.
“Investing in a Better Chicago” argues that investing in strategies that make the city more sustainable will also make the economy more productive and resilient. The report calls for increased energy conservation, improved transportation options, prioritized development around transit nodes, and wide deployment of green infrastructure. All would save money, create jobs, conserve resources, and combat climate change.Read more »
CNT applauds the proposed Transportation Housing Affordability Transparency (THAT)Act, introduced recently into the House of Representatives by Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon (HR 5824).
CNT supports the THAT Act unequivocally! We hope HUD will take advantage of several years of CNT research that culminated in the creation of the H+T(R) Affordability Index. CNT’s H+T Index would serve as an excellent base for the index that the legislation calls for, with the added benefit of funding for expansions, refinements, updates, dissemination, and technical assistance for implementation.Read more »
U.S. House members and city and private green infrastructure leaders called for greater federal support for local green infrastructure efforts in a Congressional hearing on September 30.
The lead sponsor of the proposed Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act, Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-MD), chaired the session and suggested that green infrastructure is more important now than ever, when infrastructure budgets are tight. “These technologies can also realize significant cost savings for municipalities and building owners. In this time of economic uncertainty and tight municipal budgets, it may behoove city planners to look in other directions for ways to deal with impact of solutions to urban stormwater runoff than by solely falling back on traditional, capital intensive infrastructure approaches.”Read more »
The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) is a creative think-and-do tank that combines rigorous research with effective solutions. CNT works across disciplines and issues, including transportation and community development, energy, water, and climate change.