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EPA

How Will Obama’s Sustainability Team Spend Its $150M? A Preview

12:49 PM PST on January 21, 2010

Before the U.S. DOT gave some early
clues
as to how the agency would craft its new transit funding
rules
, deputy housing and urban development (HUD) secretary Ron
Sims answered another question that's been on the minds of transit and
local-planning wonks: How will the Obama administration's three-agency partnership
for sustainable communities spend its $150 million in funding for this
year?

2008528267.jpgDeputy HUD Secretary Ron Sims (Photo: Seattle
Times
)

Here's what senior officials are thinking,
Sims told the U.S. Conference of Mayors:

  • $100 million is set aside for grants to local communities that
    present innovative energy-efficiency plans.
  • $40 million is set aside for grants to encourage enactment of
    local zoning and planning reform that makes mixed-use, transit-oriented
    development more feasible.
  • $10 million is set aside for research into "the link between
    transportation and the built environment," Sims said, with an eye to
    creating location-efficient mortgages that take mobility costs into
    account.

After Sims spoke, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Lisa
Jackson told the mayors that the nation's ongoing economic crisis would
require managing local growth in new ways.

"The boom in commercial and residential real estate drove us, and
it was good ... but we now know that there are some impacts to
sustainability from that growth," Jackson said.

"We continue to do the hard work of pulling ourselves out of the
economic decline, and part of that work" is growing more smartly, she
added.

One question Jackson did not address, despite questions from
reporters after her speech: congressional
efforts
to prevent the EPA from taking action against carbon
emissions if Congress fails to pass a climate bill this year.

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