Lunch yesterday with Senators Boxer, Kerry, and Whitehouse. On the menu? DOT's role in the effort to reduce dependence on oil, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigate our impact on climate change. We were joined by Governors Gregoire and Ritter--two leaders whose states are way out in front on this issue.
What is DOT's role in this challenge? First, it's pretty clear that transportation is a major source of oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, so we need to take the lead in any solution to climate and energy problems.
Here's what the Obama Administration's DOT has been doing to make things better:
- Achieving greater fuel economy--which we are working toward with EPA;
- Reducing total vehicles miles traveled--which we are working toward with both EPA and HUD;
- Developing high-speed rail, a convenient, energy-efficient choice for inter-city travel;
- Modernizing air traffic control through NextGen, which improves aircraft efficiency both in the air and on the ground;
- Improving roadways--through the stimulus--to reduce the waste of traffic congestion;
- Exploring alternative aviation fuels and emissions technologies; and
- Helping public transit agencies--through Recovery Act moneys--purchase more clean-fuel vehicles.
Our top priorities at the Department of Transportation-–after safety-–include finding new ways to help our communities become more livable, more sustainable, and less dependent on private vehicles for mobility.
Look, Americans are tired of high gas prices, tired of sitting in traffic, and tired of long commutes.
And, on the commercial side, congestion costs trucking and freight rail operators billions of dollars in wasted fuel and productivity every year. So, it’s not only the environment that’s at stake here, but also our ability to compete globally using our transportation assets efficiently.
It’s our responsibility to work with Congress and other stakeholders to ensure that DOT invests in transportation systems that not only reduce our pollution and dependence on fossil fuels, but also drive economic growth and provide the mobility our citizens need and deserve in the 21st century.
As proud as I am about what we've already done, I am even more excited about what we can do down the line.