Blumenauer criticizes cuts to smart growth program

Originally posted on Environment & Energy Daily by Jason Plautz. Posted here with permission.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) yesterday took aim at language in the U.S. EPA spending bill that would eliminate an agency program that helps communities develop with an eye toward environmental and economic sustainability.

The Smart Growth program would see its entire budget slashed in the Interior-EPA 2012 spending bill currently being debated on the House floor. The program offers technical and financial assistance to cities and towns looking to expand their infrastructure to emphasize livability and downplay driving and sprawl.

“Eliminating funding for Smart Growth programs would be devastating for communities across the country,” Blumenauer said in a statement. “Even more important in today’s tight budget environment, they leverage additional funding through public-private partnerships to help revitalize communities, grow businesses and create jobs.”

The program, which drew $5.7 million in funding last year, includes collaboration with the Transportation and the Housing and Urban Development departments to form the administration’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

In a floor speech yesterday, Blumenauer called on the House to find a way to restore funding.

Geoff Anderson, president of Smart Growth America, also slammed what he called a short-sighted budget cut to a program that helps the economy and environment. He called on the House to vote down the spending bill rather than pass the cuts.