Statement on LaHood Nomination


December 18, 2008

For Immediate Release

Contact:
Nick Berning, 202-222-0748

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Friends of the Earth President Brent Blackwelder had the following statement in response to the nomination of Congressman Ray LaHood to be the next Secretary of Transportation:

“If Congressman Ray LaHood is confirmed as Transportation Secretary, he will oversee a federal transportation system that is desperately in need of reform. Congressman LaHood’s challenge will be to update federal policy to meet critical goals regarding transportation, energy, and climate change.

“Transportation in the U.S. is responsible for 30 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 70 percent of our oil consumption. If we are to meet President-elect Obama’s goals of an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 and a dramatic reduction of our dependence on oil within 10 years, Congressman LaHood will have to help lead the way to dramatic and systemic changes in the transportation sector.

“Our present transportation network is crumbling, most Americans lack convenient access to public transportation, and our passenger rail network is anemic compared to the networks of leading industrialized countries. To add to the challenge, federal transportation investments currently rely on an obsolete financing mechanism that required a congressional bailout to avoid bankruptcy this autumn.

“The federal transportation bill to come before Congress next year is outdated and obsolete, and it cannot meet our transportation, energy, and climate needs. In years past, congressional transportation debates have quickly devolved from policy making into food fights over pork-barrel earmarks and competition for the biggest slice of the pie.

“Congressman LaHood’s challenge is great. He must ensure U.S. transportation policy supports, rather than undercuts, the Obama administration’s goals on energy and climate change. This means he must work closely with Obama’s nominees for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency, and with Obama’s new energy and climate czar, Carol Browner.

“While his overall record on energy and environment issues is poor, LaHood has in recent years broken with many in his party to support crucial investments in passenger rail and public transportation, and he is a member of the Congressional Bike Caucus. These are reasons to hope that he may be open to the visionary transportation policy that is needed to move our country forward.

“Friends of the Earth looks forward to working with Congressman LaHood to bring about such a policy.”

Earlier this week, Friends of the Earth recently launched a campaign to keep funding for new roads out of the economic stimulus package. More information about that campaign can be found at http://www.RoadToNowhere.org.

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Friends of the Earth (www.foe.org) is the U.S. voice of the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.