New Freight Program Bill Introduced in House Praised by Green Transportation Group

Bill would shift national transportation policy to support economic growth, cut environmental impacts

August 2, 2010
Contact: 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts: Sean Crowley, 202-572-3331, scrowley@edf.org; Kathryn Phillips, 916-893-8494, kphillips@edf.org  

(Washington, DC—July 30, 2010) A bill introduced Friday in the U.S. House of Representatives could help transform America's transportation policy and investment by directing federal investment to freight system projects that update the freight system and help reduce freight's environmental and health impacts, according to a green transportation group.

The legislation, the Focusing Resources, Economic Investment and Guidance to Help Transportation Act of 2010 (FREIGHT Act/HR 5976)—sponsored by Reps. Albio Sires (NJ), Adam Smith (WA), Laura Richardson (CA), and Steve Cohen (TN)—mirrors a Senate bill (S. 3629) introduced last week by Senators Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Patty Murray (WA) and Maria Cantwell (WA). The bill also complements freight improvement provisions in the transportation authorization bill introduced last year by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (MN).

"We look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Oberstar and Reps. Sires, Cohen, Richardson, and Smith to ensure that federal freight investment simultaneously modernizes the outdated freight transportation system and reduces its environmental and public health impacts," said Kathryn Phillips, a transportation expert with the Environmental Defense Fund. "These environmental and health impacts are especially bad in communities adjacent to high-polluting freight hubs."

Freight air pollution is an enormous health threat. The fine particle pollution from U.S. diesel engines—the most common engines used in freight—is estimated to shorten the lives of more than 20,000 people each year.'

The FREIGHT ACT directs the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop and implement institutional advances that will improve and coordinate policy within the federal government and the states:

1. A National Freight Transportation Strategic Plan to guide and inform goods movement infrastructure investments in future years
2. An Office of Freight Planning and Development, led by an Assistant Secretary for Freight Planning and Development
3. A new National Freight Infrastructure Grants program, a competitive, merit-based program for multimodal freight investment designed to focus funds where they will provide the most public benefit

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