Federal Policy


There is a proposal on the House floor to extend SAFETEA-LU to September 30, 2010 — expected to pass today (December 16) — this would be part of the “Jobs for Main Street Act of 2009”.  The Defense Appropriations bill also includes a two month SAFETEA-LU extension as a backup in case the Senate doesn’t pass the jobs bill soon or at all.

Transportation Reauthorization Bill (Oberstar)

Spearheaded by Chairman Oberstar of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, proposed language for the Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009 was released on Monday, June 22, 2009.  This 700+ page document states that it will “transform Federal surface transportation to a performance-based framework to reduce fatalities and injuries on our Nation’s highways, address the mobility and access needs of people and goods, improve the condition, performance, and connectivity of the United States intermodal surface transportation system, provide transportation choices for commuters and travelers, promote environmental sustainability, public health, and the livability of communities, support robust investment in surface transportation, and for other purposes.”

While the Waxman-Markey Climate Change bill includes a small section on the role of metropolitan planning and greenhouse gas reduction, the Oberstar Transportation Reauthorization language similarly includes a small section on the need for including climate change objectives in regional planning.  Below is a shortened version of the language that is found in both pieces of developing legislation – note from the Climate Change (Waxman-Markey) post that this language from Oberstar was inserted at 3am the day of the passage of the climate bill as a replacement for Representative Matsui’s version (see CLEAN-TEA section in Federal and State Policy).

Language from Waxman page 475 / Oberstar page 336

  • Establishment of Emissions Reduction Targets and Strategies
    • In General. Each MPO shall develop surface transportation-related greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, as well as strategies to meet such targets, as part of the transportation planning process under this section.
    • Minimum Requirements.  Each MPO that develops targets and strategies required shall demonstrate progress in stabilizing and reducing transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions in each MPO.  The targets and strategies shall, at a minimum:
      • Be based on the models and methodologies established in the final regulations required under section 841 of the Clean Air Act;
      • Address sources of surface transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to achievement of the national transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals;
      • Include efforts to increase public transportation ridership; and
      • Include efforts to increase walking, bicycling, and other forms of non-motorized transportation.  

Analysis of Oberstar Bill Highlights

My first day of interning in Washington DC I was greeted with the release of the 700+ page Oberstar bill.  Here is my “first-day-on-the-job” interpretation of the relevent sections to local and regional transport and land use planning: Oberstar Bill Highlights