Stop the Attack on Public Transit Civil Rights and Enviro Justice!
by Francisca Porchas on Wednesday, February 8, 2012
On Thursday, February 9th, TRPT will be joining a broad coalition of equity advocates in a National Call-in Day against the Federal Transportation bill H.R. 7.
Reasons to vote no on H.R. 7 (the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs
Act) and maintain 30 years of dedicated federal commitment to supporting
mass transit, creating jobs and protecting civil rights and
1. It would eliminate all dedicated federal funding for mass transit
The bill would eliminate the 2.86 cent portion of the 18 cent federal gasoline tax currently dedicated to mass transit and "replace it" with unidentified general fund revenue from the federal budget. The current dedicated federal funding formula of 80% for highways and 20% for transit would now be 100% for highways and roads! Transit operators would be forced to make historic cuts in service and institute massive fare increases as they cut operations costs to backfill billions in lost capital funds from the House bill.
2. It would eliminate environmental & transportation planning tools that protect EJ and Civil Rights!
In the name of "streamlining environmental project review," the bill makes it easier to bypass many current environmental regulations (NEPA, Judicial Review, Categorical Exclusions) that force project managers, planners, and engineers to quantify impacts on people and nature as well as consider alternatives to the project. Also gives president authority to waive environmental review to "expedite" a project.
3. It lets transit agencies off the hook from having to give alternatives to capital projects that often have a racially discriminatory impact on low income and communities of color.
The bill proposes to eliminate "New Starts alternatives analysis" and "consolidate steps in the review process." This will eliminate checks and balances against "boondoggle" projects funded by the New Starts program. Historically, many of these costly New Starts projects have disproportionately burdened, displaced or failed to benefit low income and communities of color (for example, a rail extension that would bypass neighborhoods of color while taking more affluent, white riders to the airport).
4. It would expand offshore oil and gas drilling and open a back door to projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline.
The bill proposes to use revenue from expanded offshore oil/gas drilling to pay for the bill, expanding dirty energy production at the expense of addressing climate change and clean energy production. In addition, Speaker Boehner has threatened to attach the Keystone Pipeline proposal to the House Transportation bill.
5. It allows "air quality improvement" (CMAQ) funds to be used for highway expansions.
The House bill would change the CMAQ program by making congestion reduction, not air quality, a criterion for eligibility. With these changes a project doesn't need to reduce air pollution it just needs to be "likely" to reduce congestion. Under this new definition, the construction of new highway lanes qualifies for CMAQ funding. Many states and MPOs would likely use CMAQ funds for highway construction at the expense of expanding transit service, bicycle and pedestrian-friendly projects.
6. It ties funding flexibility for transit operators to anti-union measures
The bill would allow transit operators the ability to get a higher federal match for capital project funding in exchange for increased "public-private partnerships" in the form of privatizing 20% of their transit service. This will result in further privatizing union jobs and continuing the assault on the public sector work force.