The housing, and now financial markets are imploding, the foreign exchange value of the dollar is dropping to unknown depths, the government deficit has expanded like a mushroom cloud, we continue to send men and women to fight two full-blown wars overseas and our standing and influence abroad is waning – that’s quite a legacy, even for a president.
Meanwhile, oil prices have more than tripled in five years and gasoline prices in the past seven, exacerbating the pain. While squashing any hint of expression of alternative paths throughout federal government apparatus, and despite all evidence to the contrary, the Bush administration maintains we can and should drill our way out of it. Is this another example of self-serving rhetoric, handing out political favors as rewards and presidential strong-arming, or well-conceived and thought out policy making worthy of national leadership?
I don’t want to appear overly negative, but it is useful, and constructive, to face up to difficult situations and assess and state things as fully and plainly as possible. After all, if you don’t really and fully recognize and clearly and explicitly state the nature of a problem, or problems, chances are you don’t appreciate them well enough to make the type of sound judgments or make the choices that result in good, workable solutions.
On the brighter side, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore) last week introduced H.R.6495, the “Transportation and Housing Choices for Gas Price Relief Act.” Bi-partisan in that its co-sponsors are Reps. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) and Christopher Shays (R-CT), the bill, if passed, seeks to provide immediate relief to U.S. families while taking a step in the direction of re-orienting U.S. transportation, and hence energy, policy.
Turning the Ship of State: Re-Orienting Transportation, Energy Policy
Offering the public incentives to ride public transit, car pool, telecommute, as well as assisting transit agencies with rising fuel costs and growing demand are all part of H.R.6495’s short-term solutions to alleviate the effects of high energy prices. “There is no magic silver bullet that will solve the energy crisis, but there are things we can do now to reduce the impact of high gas prices on American families,” Rep. Blumenauer said in a media release.
“One thing we must do is give people more transportation choices, and my bill does this by offering incentives for commuters to carpool, ride public transit, bicycle, or telecommute. By diminishing the impact of gas prices on family budgets, these common sense ideas can make an immediate difference in the lives of over-stretched Americans.”
“This legislation will help address our energy crisis in the short term by incentivizing consumers to use public transportation, carpool and telecommute,” added Rep. Shays.
“But the key will be a long-term energy policy to decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil, protect the environment, increase supply, build a market for renewable energy and promote energy conservation.”
Investment in new rail lines and offering incentives for buying homes near public transportation are two of the longer-term actions the bill’s sponsors and supporters propose.
Supported by a coalition of business, environmental and transit groups, the “Housing and Transportation Gas Price Relief Act” would have the added, positive effect of cutting down carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions.
“This legislation shows that fighting global warming and saving money go hand in hand, because the cheapest, cleanest gallon of gasoline is the one you don’t have to use,” stated Colin Peppard, Transportation Policy Coordinator for Friends of the Earth. “The convenient, affordable transportation alternatives that this legislation provides would let more Americans leave their cars in the driveway and skip the gas pump altogether, cutting gas costs and greenhouse gasses at the same time.”
“Gratuitous oil drilling and highway building are a central part of a failed energy and transportation policy that has not reduced high gas prices; it has locked us into paying them,” maintains Friends of the Earth, one of the bill’s backers. “What we need is immediate relief for working families and real, long-term solutions that will permanently protect American families from high gas prices by ending our addiction to oil.