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Climate Change

Report: Boxer ‘Sympathetic to’ Backers of More Climate Money for Transit

11:21 AM PDT on August 14, 2009

As Senator Barbara Boxer works on her upcoming climate
change bill, the Senate environment committee chairman is "definitely
looking at" a plan
to give green transport 10 percent of the revenue generated from carbon
emissions caps, according to a new report from BNA's Transportation
Watch.

barbaraboxer_2.jpgSenate environment committee chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (Photo: Politics Now)

Boxer
told BNA last week that she is "very sympathetic" to Sen. Tom Carper's
(D-DE) push for a 10-percent climate set-aside for transit and other
sustainable modes.

"We're definitely looking at" Carper's
legislation, Boxer is quoted as saying. "I definitely fall into that
camp that thinks we need to do more."

Carper told
Streetsblog Capitol Hill last month that Boxer "fully understands" the
need to tackle transportation emissions more directly than the climate
change bill passed by the House in June, which sent 1 percent of its revenue to transit.

Boxer's climate measure is currently expected to
come before the environment panel ahead of a September 28 deadline set
by Democratic leaders. If the 10-percent bill -- also known as "CLEAN
TEA" -- is not included in the bill, Carper said he plans to offer it
as an amendment during committee debate.

That move could end up putting pressure on the six committee Democrats who have yet to sign on
as sponsors of Carper's bill: Sens. Amy Klobuchar (MN), Sheldon
Whitehouse (RI), Tom Udall (NM), Max Baucus (MT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT,
but caucuses as a Democrat), and Boxer herself.

Even if Boxer
opts for middle ground between the 10 percent level of "CLEAN TEA" and
the House's 1 percent, as she did to a certain extent in her 2008
climate legislation, rural-state senators are likely to mount dogged
opposition.

Four rural Democrats called yesterday for the entire bill to be shelved, and a transportation field hearing held Monday
by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) saw the South Dakota DOT secretary testify
that in a rural state such as his, "there is only so much we can do" to
promote transit.

The DOT official, Darin Bergquist, added that his state should work towards limiting emissions outside of the transport sector:

[Requiring states to limit transport emissions] may be viable ... in metropolitan areas, but due to our low population density,great distances, and harsh winters, they are not practical ... for rural states like ours. We believe that theproper, national interest approach is to ensure that any such statutewould not force, or allow an agency to force a state like ours toundertake unrealistic efforts to reduce transportation-related GHGemissions. We generate very little GHG from transportation compared toother states and we will do our part to remove GHG emissions usingmodern, no-till agricultural practices.

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