Senate bill marks progress on clean transportation and electric vehicles, but leaves a lot to be desired

Media Contacts
Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG

Climate is addressed for the first time in transportation bill, but other issues remain


WASHINGTON — The Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works unveiled a major transportation bill today, which includes a section on climate change that shifts some federal highway money to Complete Streets — a  program that makes streets safer for walking and biking. The legislation also moves money toward investments in public transportation designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and authorizes funding for an expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

That said, the section on climate change represents only about three percent of the total funding authorized by the bill with the rest leaning heavily towards highway funding. The bill also relaxes the environmental review process of projects.

Matt Casale, U.S. PIRG Transportation Campaign director, issued the following statement:

“Some commitment to climate change in the Senate committee’s bill  is a step in the right direction. To meet the public health and climate challenges we’re facing, we need to transform our transportation system. That means we must stop spending money on building highways and instead invest in clean, modern and reliable public transportation and robust, accessible and safe walking and biking options. Not only will these investments reduce pollution, but they will also support more livable communities. 

“While some attention to this essential issue marks progress, we clearly still have a long way to go. These are positive provisions in a bill that is still flawed overall. It heavily skews funding in favor of highways over cleaner and more sustainable transportation investments. Only through dramatic change can we ensure Americans have the freedom to drive less and live more.”

Morgan Folger, Environment America Clean Cars Campaign director, issued the following statement:

“With the threat of climate change looming larger than ever, we need to stop burning fossil fuels and transition to clean, renewable energy sources in every aspect of our lives. This especially includes cars and trucks. While increasing funding for electric vehicle charging stations laid out in this bill is a positive step forward, our national leaders should go even further to accelerate the transition to all-electric cars and trucks. Too much is at stake to act otherwise.

“We’re glad to see more funding to address climate change in this bill. However, we oppose other provisions in the bill like the one that revokes the environmental review process for oil and gas pipelines in public lands. Running more oil and gas pipelines through our beautiful public lands is an accident waiting to happen, will increase harmful global warming pollution, and only further prolongs our unsustainable addiction to fossil fuels.”