SGA testimony before House Committee

As we mentioned earlier, SGA communications director David Goldberg testified earlier this morning before the House Select Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence. If you are so inclined, you can download the testimony of all the presenters on the committee’s home for this hearing.

David’s testimony is available to download here (pdf). Some highlights:

Smart Growth America comes today with encouraging news: We can significantly reduce our nation’s dependence on oil and shrink our carbon footprint, while helping Americans avoid high gas prices and time in traffic, simply by meeting the growing demand for conveniently located homes in walkable neighborhoods, served by public transportation. The even better news is that we do not have to wait for someone to invent convenient, “green” neighborhoods — we have the know-how to build them right now, as we have for many years…

Smart Growth Solutions to Climate Change

To relieve consumers from gas prices reduce emissions we need to provide transportation options and build our communities in a way that allows better access to school, work, the grocery store and dry cleaner. It is not acceptable for many Americans to have to use a gallon of gas just to get a gallon of milk, especially at a time when the gallon of gas has reached the same price as the gallon of milk and both are continuing to increase…

On public transportation

As I mentioned before gas prices are hitting us hard, especially for the many Americans with no other options rather than driving. In some areas people are quitting their jobs because it costs them more to get to work than what they take home in their paycheck. For many, access to public transportation is the difference between getting by and cutting back on their quality of life. Families in areas with good transit and walkable neighborhoods pay less than 10% of their income for transportation, while families living in areas with fewer alternative transportation options pay upwards of 25%.

Access to transit can reduce the need of a car in a two-car household, resulting in roughly $6,000 yearly savings and a 30% reduction in transportation-related carbon emissions. Less than 5% of Americans live within one-half mile of fixed guideway transit options, yet of those that do, 33% regularly use transit and 44% regularly travel by walking, bicycle, or transit.

And lastly, a few policy recommendations for the Committee. To read more detail about each of these recommendations and what they entail, download the pdf and read the last few pages. It’s a pretty quick read.

Despite the benefits of and demand for smart growth, there are outdated policies at all levels of government that are biased against this kind of development. Under most zoning codes in the country today, walkable, compact neighborhoods like Georgetown or Old Town Alexandria would be illegal. At the federal level, our current transportation, housing, and many tax policies incentivize energy inefficient development that makes Americans spend more hours in the car and increases emissions from the transportation sector every year.

We have three main categories of federal policy recommendations:

  1. Address our development patterns and transportation choices in climate legislation to encourage walkable neighborhoods with better public transportation options.
  2. Ensure that the next surface transportation bill, up for reauthorization in 2009, reduces our dependence on oil and our global warming emissions.
  3. Reform the current tax code to better encourage the kind of development and transportation choices that result in more climate-friendly, energy efficient, lower cost options for Americans.