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Lawmakers Introduce Reality-Based Plan to Achieve “Freedom From Oil”

1:36 PM PDT on June 2, 2011

Members of Congress of all stripes are trying to show that they’re concerned and responsive to the financial strain caused by high gas prices. Some are recommending more oil drilling. Some want to end subsidies to oil companies. Today, members of the Congressional Livable Communities Task Force suggested that providing more diverse transportation options to more people might help.

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“Here in Washington, DC, when gas prices spike, people have choices,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), chair of the Task Force. “They can take a bus, Metro, bike, Capital Bike-share, walk, cab, drive. It’s a wide range of [choices] and it actually minimizes some of the sticker shock. But unfortunately, about half the American population doesn’t have an environment they live in that provides those choices. Too much of America is dependent on a pattern that imagines that we will always have an unlimited supply of inexpensive gasoline, and government policies in housing and road transportation reinforce that.”

Blumenauer and other members of the Task Force introduced a report this morning called "Freedom From Oil: Policy Solutions From the Livable Communities Task Force." It's an impressive product from a Congressional task force, many of which exist in name only. The more than two dozen members of the Livable Communities Task Force, all House Democrats, strive to make the federal government a better partner with communities to promote "cost-effective, environmentally friendly solutions to infrastructure problems" and "coordinate transportation, housing, and environmental policies and investments."

The lawmakers of the Task Force said increasing oil drilling in the U.S. will never have an appreciable effect on world oil prices, because the price of oil is determined globally and the U.S. supply won’t be sufficient to make a significant difference.

“Here’s the harsh reality: The United States is never going to have control over world oil supplies or gas prices through drilling,” said Task Force member Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA). “We simply don’t have the oil supplies, no matter how much we drill. What we do have is the ability to control prices by lowering our consumption and giving American families new transportation choices."

Rep. Jim Moran, a Democrat from Northern Virginia, boasted about Arlington’s livability program, including contiguous bike trails, bike racks, and transit-oriented development. “It’s the only way to effectively work against this monopolistic control that for too long the oil companies have had over America’s policies and priorities,” Moran said.

The Freedom From Oil policy recommendations are:

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