For Immediate Release
Statement on LaHood Nomination
WASHINGTON - 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
"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outdated and obsolete, and it cannot meet our transportation, energy,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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