House committee outlines plans for transportation legislation (National League of Cities)
Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, has been leading a listening tour for the last several months to hear what states around the country would like to see in the next six-year transportation bill. Along the way, Mica has dropped hints about what the broad outlines of the bill are likely to be and the National League of Cities is reading the tea leaves. Of particular importance, the NLC thinks that the bill will only pay for investments that can be covered by the current gas tax. Attentive readers will recall that the gas tax revenues are perpetually declining due to inflation and more fuel efficient vehicles. Thus, the federal bill could end up being smaller than some transportation advocates had hoped.
Barack Obama moves to slash oil imports (Politico)
On a parallel track, President Obama is restarting discussions on crafting a national energy policy that would reduce American dependence on foreign oil. His plan would shrink oil imports by one-third over the next decade by incentivizing domestic oil production and the adoption of alternative fuels. How energy legislation plays out will likely impact America’s transportation system. Although, without concrete policy proposals on the table yet, it’s difficult to speculate how at this point.
While the U.S. is planning its national transportation strategy, it is illustrative to see how Europe envisions its own transportation future. The European Commission’s recently released blueprint, Transport 2050, outlines a variety of strategies to improve mobility, reduce carbon emissions, and provide employment opportunities. Some of the plan’s targets include eliminating fossil fuel vehicles from city centers by 2030, creating a fully integrated European transportation network, and reducing road fatalities to zero by 2050. While these ambitions may sound lofty, the European Commission notes that “oil prices are projected to more than double between 2005 levels and 2050″ — so better to start preparing now.