Know Your Road Lobbyists: The American Highway Users Alliance

For a 77-year-old nonprofit group with substantial Washington clout,
the American Highway Users Alliance keeps a pretty low profile.

Its members are not listed on its website,
but interested parties are asked a few questions: "Are you outraged by
the deaths of 120 people each day on our roads? Are you pro-environment
AND pro-highway?" Average commuters might be lulled into thinking they
could join with the click of a mouse.

FH_031907_09.jpgGreg Cohen, the American Highway Users Alliance president and chief lobbyist (Photo: NSTPRC website)

But the Alliance has a specific agenda — which is on full display in
the lobbying filings of Greg Cohen, its president and CEO.

During
the first half of this year, Cohen reported working to "support
additional supplies of domestic oil," "oppose the placement of tolls
and congestion pricing on existing toll-free roads," and "support
maximum funding for highways," among other goals.

That maximum cash for highways, in the Alliance’s view,
should continue to relegate transit to 20 percent of federal aid. If
Congress’ upcoming six-year transportation bill "starts looking more
negative on highways," Cohen warned last month, "there is potential
that the whole bill could be slowed down here."

Moreover, the Alliance mobilized to oppose the climate bill passed by the House last month and lobbied against Senate legislation that would set national transportation priorities such as emissions reduction and transit expansion.

Cohen
also reported lobbying in favor of government loans for U.S. automakers
— an appropriate priority given that the Alliance’s 2007 directors
included senior lobbyists at Ford, GM, and Toyota, according to its tax
returns.

The Alliance has been called many things, from "a leading nonprofit, nonpartisan group that advocates for improved mobility and safety" to "an advocacy
group representing a wide range of motorists," but its true identity is
best described as a card-carrying member of the road lobby.

  • I’d love to be a fly on the wall in the cigar filled rooms where they cook up the names of their lobbying organizations.

    Please tell me that Congress knows the real intent behind such ironically named organizations, regardless of whether they tacitly go along.