Bill to Provide Relief from High Gas Prices Introduced in House

Bipartisan Legislation to Provide Transportation and Housing Options Endorsed by Leading National Environmental Group

July 16, 2008
Contact: 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Contact:
Sean Crowley, 202-572-3331, scrowley@edf.org
Michael Replogle, 202-572-3321, mreplogle@edf.org
 
(Washington, DC – July 16, 2008) A leading national environmental group today endorsed new bipartisan legislation in Congress that would offer Americans relief from high gas prices by providing expanded transportation and housing options.  
 
The bill, “The Transportation and Housing Options for Gas Price Relief Act of 2008” (H.R. 6495), was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). It is cosponsored by U.S. Reps. Chris Shays (R-CT), Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), Jay Inslee (D-WA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA) and Hilda Solis (D-CA).  Both Tauscher and McNerney are members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which has jurisdiction over this legislation.
 
Gas prices in the United States have tripled during the past seven years. As a result, Americans now spend an average of more than $2,000 a year on gas to commute to work. Transportation costs are now Americans’ second largest average expense after housing. 
 
"This timely bill provides Congress with a great opportunity to show it is responding to Americans’ pain at the pump, insufficient public transit and costly housing options,” said Michael Replogle, transportation director at Environmental Defense Fund and a former consultant for the U.S. Federal Highway Administration and the World Bank on sustainable transportation strategies.  "America has less than three percent of the world’s oil reserves, so we will never be able to produce what we need domestically. Our best bet is to use our limited domestic gas supply wisely and facilitate alternatives to driving where possible, as this legislation does.”


“The Transportation and Housing Options for Gas Price Relief Act of 2008” would allocate funds to:
 
  • Expand public transportation and to help transit agencies deal with high fuel prices;
  • span style="font-size: 10pt">Encourage pay-as-you-drive auto insurance policies that discourage driving by rewarding low mileage drivers with lower insurance premiums;
  • Reduce commuting costs by providing incentives to employers and employees to take transit, bicycle, carpool, walk, or telecommute to work;
  • Help local governments create walkable, bikeable communities well-served by transit by providing funding to local governments to support programs to manage transportation demand and for transit agencies to make needed investments;
  • Help Americans make smart transportation and housing choices by educating them about their options;
  • Spur the availability of “Location Efficient Mortgages,” which make owning a home near transit more affordable for all Americans;
  • Make sure the Federal Government leads by example by:
1.      Upgrading key websites for easier access to services without having to leave home and work; and
2.      Encouraging federal agencies and offices to participate in local Transportation Management Agencies, which provide transportation options.
 
“Public transit use and demand for other transportation options are continuing to rise throughout the country," concluded Replogle. “This bill would support current transportation options while encouraging the creation of new and necessary transit alternatives. It would ultimately benefit all Americans by saving them gas money, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, alleviating traffic, and reducing pollution.”