TIGER II Grants To Target Major-Impact Transportation Projects, Job Creation

Press Release | May 28, 2010 8:32PM GMT

The Journal of Commerce Online – Press Release

Following on the success of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grant Program, Secretary Ray LaHood today announced the availability of $600 million in TIGER II grants for capital investment in surface transportation projects. TIGER II grants will be awarded on a competitive basis to projects that have a significant impact on the nation, a region or metropolitan area and can create jobs.

“The enormous number of applications we received for the first round of TIGER grants shows that we have a backlog of worthwhile transportation projects waiting for funding,” said Secretary LaHood. “This money will go to the kinds of projects that will help spur lasting economic growth, reduce gridlock, provide safe, affordable and environmentally sustainable transportation choices and create jobs.”

In an overwhelming show of demand for TIGER I, the U.S. Department of Transportation received more than 1,400 applications from all 50 states, territories and the District of Columbia requesting funding for almost $60 billion worth of projects – 40 times the $1.5 billion available under the program.

The TIGER II solicitation now available on the Federal Register website provides clear criteria for the department to make merit-based decisions on the new discretionary program.

Primary selection criteria include contributing to the long-term economic competitiveness of the nation, improving the condition of existing transportation facilities and systems, improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving the safety of U.S. transportation facilities and improving the quality of living and working environments of communities through increased transportation choices and connections.

The Department will also give priority to projects that are expected to quickly create and preserve jobs and stimulate rapid increases in economic activity.

Pre-applications are due on July 16 and applications are due on August 23 from state and local governments, including U.S. territories, tribal governments, transit agencies, port authorities and others. The Federal Register notice can be accessed by clicking here.

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CLIMATE: Senate cap-and-trade bill coming out next week — Boxer (05/05/2010)

Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Voorhees, E&E reporters

Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) are planning to release their climate and energy bill as soon as next week even if they cannot win back their longtime GOP partner, according to a top Senate Democrat.

Kerry revealed the tentative schedule for the unveiling of his long-awaited measure during the Democrats’ weekly meeting of committee leaders. “He said it’s looking good, and he hopes to have a press conference next week,” said Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

Both Kerry and Lieberman sidestepped questions about the timing of their bill. “It’s coming soon,” Lieberman said.

Kerry, Lieberman and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) originally planned to release their bill April 26 but postponed the press conference after Graham complained that Democratic leaders had pushed the politically thorny issue of immigration onto the Senate agenda, making it impossible for him to also work on the climate legislation.

The Kerry-Lieberman climate bill is expected to call by 2020 for a 17 percent cut in emissions below 2005 levels, with the emission limits applying to different sectors of the economy at different times. Trade-sensitive manufacturers, for example, would start in the climate program six years after power plants, Kerry said today. The legislation is also expected to promote increased domestic production of nuclear power and offshore oil and gas, despite the outcry from environmentalists in the wake of the Gulf Coast oil spill.

Kerry said the three senators continue to talk behind the scenes, despite Graham’s protest on immigration. “He’s standing by the work product, and he’s standing by the bill, no matter what,” Kerry said.

Boxer said today that Kerry and Lieberman will release the bill with or without Graham. “I think they’ve decided that if he is, that would be great, but if not, we’re going to move forward,” she said.

The release of the bill comes as Democratic leaders ramp up their pressure on the duo to produce their bill and begin the campaign of finding more Republicans.

“The only real chance we have to get it done this year is to make sure it is bipartisan,” said Chris Miller, the top climate aide to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “And to date … we’ve seen little to any public interest by very many Republicans.”

Miller, speaking at the Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference in Washington, said Reid will probably punt the climate bill if it does not look like the measure is within striking distance of 60 votes. “Because of the way the Senate works these days, we can’t even consider moving to a bill unless you’ve got 60 votes,” Miller said, adding that it “might not be worth taking a bill to the floor at all just to see it fail” if it is shy of 60.

To date, only Graham and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) have spoken out in favor of supporting a mandatory cap on greenhouse gases, though they have disagreed on the exact pricing mechanism to reduce emissions.

“We are hopeful, given the short time frame left in the window for considering this legislation, that we’ll get some support,” Miller said. “Because if we don’t, the chances we’re going to be able to legislate on this in the next few years is going to decline significantly.”

Top GOP targets include Sens. Olympia Snowe of Maine, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, George LeMieux of Florida, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and George Voinovich of Ohio. But many of those senators say they are taking a wait-and-see approach until Kerry releases the legislation.

“I’m willing to work on it,” LeMieux said today. “I’d like to see it. I was about to see it, but then the whole process fell apart.”

Brown said he is focused on other issues, including financial regulatory reform and economic recovery.

And Voinovich, who retires in January, said he does not expect the climate bill to gain any momentum. “I’m overwhelmed, and I only have a little time left,” he said yesterday. “And I’m not really confident that because of what’s going on with all the other stuff, in spite of the fact there are people who are very desirous of something taking place, that it’s going to go anywhere.”

Schwarzenegger fights to protect his climate-change and redistricting legacy – Sacramento Politics – California Politics | Sacramento Bee

By Kevin Yamamura

Published: Monday, Apr. 26, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 1A
Last Modified: Monday, Apr. 26, 2010 – 10:32 am

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has long relied on the ballot as a political weapon, wielding direct democracy over the heads of opponents throughout his time in office.

In his final year, wealthy donors have turned the tables. They hope to use the ballot to erase two of his biggest legacy pieces, a landmark climate-change law and an independent redistricting process.

Schwarzenegger is eyeing a major fall showdown against oil companies and other businesses over an initiative to suspend Assembly Bill 32, which requires California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Many firms did not support that change four years ago because they feared higher costs and now sense a chance to derail it as California struggles with a 12.6 percentunemployment rate.

Contributors – mostly oil firms and a mysterious Missouri donor, the Adam Smith Foundation – have paid $1.9 million to gather signatures for an initiative to suspend AB 32.

Another donor, entertainment magnate Haim Saban, has loaned $2 million toward a second initiative that would once again let state lawmakers draw political boundaries, defying the governor’s previous efforts.

Schwarzenegger acknowledges he will have to play defense this fall.

“You do something really well and it is very successful and then people are there to take it out again,” he observed last week.

But how successfully can Schwarzenegger protect his agenda?

His poll ratings are at an all-time low after persistent budget cuts and last year’s temporary tax hikes.

Fundraising has been a constant strength for Schwarzenegger, but he is a lame duck who has to find money for several fights. The governor already has tapped donors this spring for an open primary initiative on the June 8 ballot. He must also advocate for an $11 billion water bond in November, another crucial piece of his agenda.

“I think he has to pick his battles pretty carefully,” said Gale Kaufman, a Democratic political consultant and adviser to the California Teachers Association.

Schwarzenegger’s political strategist, Adam Mendelsohn, said the governor remains committed to passing the water bond this fall. He emphasized that Schwarzenegger won’t have to fight any of these battles alone.

“There are very significant, influential constituencies that are going to charge up the mountain to defend both of these policies,” he said of AB 32 and redistricting. “The burden to beat back these campaigns is not entirely on the shoulders of Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

A campaign to fight the AB 32 suspension has drawn support from environmentalists, renewable energy companies and technology firms, as well as foundations. Steven Maviglio, spokesman for the effort, expressed confidence that his campaign would have plenty of money.

“We’ll be going mano a mano with the polluters,” he said.

So far, oil companies have financed most of the drive to put the initiative on the ballot. The proposal would suspend AB 32 until unemployment drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters.

Proponents say consumers and businesses will pay substantial costs to cut carbon emissions. Schwarzenegger and environmental groups suggest that AB 32 will generate new jobs in a “green technology” industry.

The California Chamber of Commerce has not endorsed the initiative. But other business groups, including the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, have pledged support.

Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and chairman of the AB 32 initiative, predicted the broader business community will pledge money once the proposal qualifies for the ballot.

Schwarzenegger last month wrote a letter to the California Air Resources Board urging the panel to slow down its cap-and-trade system. ARB is considering an initial auction of emissions credits. Schwarzenegger suggested that ARB should instead offer credits for free at the outset.

The letter was widely seen as Schwarzenegger’s signal to businesses that he is willing to engage on their behalf – and that firms shouldn’t back a suspension.

The governor clearly sees defending AB 32 as a personal priority. On redistricting, he can rely more on Charles T. Munger Jr.

A wealthy Stanford physicist, Munger gave $1.25 million toward Proposition 11, the 2008 initiative that created an independent panel to draw state legislative boundaries. He is backing a new initiative that would extend independent redistricting to congressional seats.

In doing so, Munger apparently triggered a counter-initiative by congressional Democrats that would wipe out both Proposition 11 and the new ballot proposal. To ensure his measure wins, Munger will have to fight the redistricting repeal.

One complication for Schwarzenegger is that some of his past donors have begun contributing against him.

In 2008, Saban gave $200,000 to back Proposition 11. But Saban loaned $2 million this month toward repealing that law. A Saban spokesperson, who did not want to be named, said last week that Saban was discouraged by the lack of diversity on the redistricting panel and does not want to extend the concept to congressional seats.

Schwarzenegger has relied heavily on businesses in his past ballot efforts, but those interests may be conflicted on the AB 32 initiative.

For instance, Occidental Petroleum has given Schwarzenegger and his ballot initiatives more than $600,000 in the past. But the Los Angeles-based company spent $300,000 this month toward suspending AB 32.

“We’re going to support the causes we believe to be beneficial,” said Occidental spokesman Richard Kline. “There are initiatives (Schwarzenegger) has supported that we are proud to support. AB 32 does not happen to be one of them.”

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/04/26/2705129/schwarzenegger-fights-to-protect.html#ixzz0mEGeEuqh

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 24, 2010
CONTACT: Whitney Smith, (202) 224-4159

Senator Kerry on Today’s News About Climate and Energy Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) today released the following statement on today’s news about climate and energy legislation in the Senate:

“For more than six months, Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman, and I have been meeting for hours each day to find a bi-partisan path forward and build an unprecedented coalition of stakeholders to pass a comprehensive climate and energy bill this year. We all believe that this year is our best and perhaps last chance for Congress to pass a comprehensive approach. We believe that we had reached such an agreement and were excited to announce it on Monday, but regrettably external issues have arisen that force us to postpone only temporarily.

“I remain deeply committed to this effort which I have worked on for more than twenty years. We have no choice but to act this year. The American people deserve better than for the Senate to defer this debate or settle for an energy-only bill that won’t get the job done.

“Senator Graham came forward and has made a significant contribution to both the process and the product. Joe and I deeply regret that he feels immigration politics have gotten in the way and for now prevent him from being engaged in the way he intended. But we have to press forward. Lindsey has helped to build an unprecedented coalition of stakeholders from the environmental community and the industry who have been prepared to stand together behind a proposal. That can’t change. We can’t allow this moment to pass us by.

“Joe and I will continue to work together and are hopeful that Lindsey will rejoin us once the politics of immigration are resolved. We will continue to work and we will do everything necessary to be ready when the moment presents itself. The White House and Senate Leadership have told us from the start that this is the year for action, and until they tell us otherwise we’re pressing forward.”

# # #

Top 10 Highlights of Kerry-Graham-Lieberman Senate Climate Proposal

By Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post

The nation’s largest electric utilities association and three of the country’s biggest oil companies will endorse the climate proposal Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) will introduce Monday, Kerry told supporters in a private phone call Thursday evening.

The declarations of support show the three senators have made some inroads with the business community in drafting their plan, but have yet to win over traditional opponents of mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Several consumer groups will back the plan as well. Kerry’s office declined to comment on the matter.

The Edison Electric Institute — whose members generate the bulk of the nation’s electricity — and two of its influential CEOs, Exelon’s John Rowe and Duke Energy’s Jim Rogers, will declare their support Monday, sources said. While Kerry did not name the three oil companies, a source familiar with the negotiations said Shell, BP and ConocoPhillips would back the climate measure.

Winning over business interests who face regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency, Graham said Thursday, is essential to enlisting Republican support for the proposal. “The goal is to have the business community come forward and say, ‘This is a better solution to the EPA,'” he said.

The top 10 highlights of the proposal Kerry outlined in the phone call:

  1. The bill would take effect in 2013 and by 2020 would cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent compared to 2005 levels, and 80 percent by 2050.
  2. Trade-sensitive and energy-intensive industries would get a four-year delay before they would be subject to greenhouse gas limits.
  3. Two-thirds of the revenues generated by auctioning off pollution allowances for utilities would be returned to consumers through local distribution companies.
  4. Oil companies will be subject to pollution allowances that will be retired over time, rather than a linked fee. In an effort to counter criticism that any sort of carbon limits on fuel sales constitutes a gas tax, the Congressional Budget Office will issue a document stating this provision will not constitute a tax. All diesel oil fuel revenues will be set aside and directed to the Highway Trust Fund.
  5. The bill will preempt both the states’ and EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, as long as emitters comply with the standards outlined in the measure. The EPA will monitor and enforce compliance with the law.
  6. The bill will contain a nuclear title providing loan guarantees and liability protections for the construction of up to 12 plants.
  7. The measure will provide $10 billion to the coal industry for “clean coal technology” that will capture emissions from coal-fired power plants, and it will provide an accelerated bonus for early deployment of this technology.
  8. It will provide financial incentives for natural gas and electric vehicles.
  9. The proposal will provide a hard price collar for the price of carbon, with both a ceiling and a floor.
  10. It will also include the entire energy bill passed last year by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Happy Earth Day!

In celebration of Earth Day’s 40th birthday, I am pleased to announce that I have recently completed my M.S. thesis on the implementation of California’s climate change legislation through the Urban Land Use and Transportation Center (ULTRANS) at the University of California at Davis.  Do you think California will be able to achieve its climate change stability goals by Earth Day 2050?  How will sustainable community design through regional planning and improved transportation system management work toward achieving the State’s AB 32 and SB 375 goals?

Check Out My Thesis Highlight Sheet:

Rethinking California’s Planning Frameworks to Support Senate Bill 375: A White Paper on Local, Regional, State and Federal Climate Change Policy Reform

Regulatory reform addressing travel behavior policies that reduce vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) and improve transportation network management is needed if California is to reduce the transportation sector’s 38 percent contribution to total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the State.  This white paper introduces how such policy changes can be used to support California’s goals of climate change stability, economic vitality, and communities that encourage healthier lifestyles.  Further, it poses essential questions pertaining to regulatory reform for the 3-C issues of consistency, conformity, and concurrency that the State will need to address through actively engaging with multiple stakeholders and other government organizations.  The white paper includes an analysis of the theory and practice of California’s land use/transportation planning structure, environmental review process, and funding allocation framework by examining local, regional, state, and federal roles in the implementation of key climate change and sustainable transportation laws.  Analyzing the Sacramento Area Council of Government’s Blueprint-based Metropolitan Transportation Plan under existing State frameworks reveals needed policy reform in order to successfully implement SB 375’s “Sustainable Communities Strategies”.

Without a secure, long-term transit funding source, land use patterns that promote cost-effective and quality transit, statewide pricing mechanisms, and changes to local codes and standards, California’s MPOs will not be able to achieve ambitious per capita GHG reductions under SB 375.  The paper also finds a need to incorporate federal resource agencies in the development of Regional Transportation Plans, establish statewide GHG thresholds for projects within a regional context, and prioritize network management over capacity enhancing transportation project.  Further, it proposes to “decouple” VMT growth from transportation revenue sources by incentivizing local government to reduce VMT and improve network management under a “Low Carbon Transportation Fund” funded by cap-and-trade auction revenues.  The State of California is seeing unprecedented challenges and opportunities to create a more flexible and durable funding framework that directly ties new performance metrics to projects and plans.  These changes will better reflect the array of values and concerns from Californians as the State struggles to fund an antiquated system that largely does not reflect the 3-E sustainability metrics of the economy, equity, and the environment.

And/Or Attend a Live Presentation!

When:     Wednesday, April 28th from 12pm-1pm

What:

  • I will be presenting a “bird’s eye view” of my thesis highlights, including materials from my January Transportation Research Board session, MovingSlower legislative updates in California and DC, and developments at ULTRANS

Who:

Where:

RSVP:


Is anyone else concerned that we’re putting billions of dollars into highway projects without any set of criteria other than “stimulate jobs ASAP”?  This is the part of running a blog where I get to layer some of my personal concerns onto existing federal actions.  It seems that our other evolving goals related to greenhouse gas reduction, cost-effective investments, and healthy communities seems to have fallen off the radar when it came to passing billions of dollars for highway capacity projects in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the subsequent Jobs for Main Street Act.  To ensure long term economic vitality while keeping our climate change and sustainable communities goals in mind, this whole notion of “performance metrics” needs to be addressed BEFORE funds are distributed to States.

Perhaps we can work with the Senate Democrats and Republicans to ensure that vital performance metrics such as cost-effectiveness, equity impacts, and greenhouse gas reduction are included in any Senate version of the latest Jobs bill.  Congress has an upcoming climate bill that includes language on GHG reduction from transportation planning, and Oberstar’s Transportation Reauthorization is touted as a “new kind” of funding bill where performance metrics are a central highlight — however, these legislative concepts don’t seem to be integrated into the stimulus packages that promote quick-jobs through any “shovel ready” transportation infrastructure project.

Here’s My Vision: A “GREAT” Plan for the Federal Climate and Transportation Bills

UC Davis, Caltrans, and SACOG are leading the nation with integrated transportation, land use, and economic planning tools (integrated modeling) designed to support the transportation efficiency goals proposed in the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act and the Transportation Reauthorization.

Integrated modeling tools are essential for cost-effective prioritization of multi-billion dollar federal transportation infrastructure investment decisions.  These integrated modeling tools have been developed in California to support Darrell Steinberg’s SB 375 (transportation and land use element of AB 32) – ensuring fiscal, environmental, and socially equitable accountability.  This state investment can be leveraged to support federal transportation efficiency goals.  This innovative approach of integrating transportation, land use, and economic modeling can be used at the local, MPO, State, and Federal level as a guidance tool for the public and policy makers to better understand the benefits from transportation efficiency – including economic development, congestion reduction, and sustainable communities.  These new approaches are being embraced by senior US DOT, HUD and EPA staff who see this as an integral aspect to support the Partnership for Sustainable Communities; however, a federal program is needed to support integrated modeling tools.

The developments that California has made with integrated modeling could be used to support the goals of transportation efficiency in both the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act and the Transportation Reauthorization. In support of this vision, UC Davis’ Urban Land Use and Transportation Center recommends a consistent framework be included in both pieces of legislation to amplify the importance and ensure implementation success of federal transportation efficiency goals.

Integrated Modeling Essential for a “GREAT” Framework

  • GHG Targets:
    • establishing greenhouse gas targets for transportation efficiency at the MPO and state level will require advanced modeling capabilities that include market dynamics
  • Regional Plans:
    • developing an ambitious and achievable vision for sustainable regional growth must be supported with models that are sensitive to economic and transportation interactions
  • Effective Use of Funds:
    • making cost-effective choices for transportation infrastructure is essential for state and local government, and requires federal support to develop tools to prioritize investments
  • Accountability:
    • state and local government review of the performance of transportation investments will be necessary for greenhouse gas reduction evaluation
    • requires federal support to develop integrated modeling tools which can create a consistent platform for measuring project performance across states and MPOs
  • Transportation Efficiency:
    • in order to ensure national objectives are met, integrated modeling tools will be necessary for each aspect of the proposed frameworks in the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act and the Transportation Reauthorization