Enviros Stake Out Oregon Transportation Position

The 50 organizations that make up the Oregon Conservation Network are gathering signatures for a letter to State elected leaders:

Dear Elected Leaders,

One year ago, gas was about $2.80 a gallon. Now, with gas prices hovering around $4 a gallon, many Oregonians are struggling with increased transportation costs. And they’re looking for alternatives to driving everywhere they need to go.

Oregonians are also concerned about the impacts of global warming pollution. Increased greenhouse gas emissions threaten Oregon’s environment, our economy, and our cherished quality of life.

There is a way to help Oregonians grappling with rising transportation costs and – at the same time – tackle global warming.

Common sense transportation investments will give Oregonians better options to get where they need to go. More effective public transportation and safer streets for biking and walking will reduce our dependency on the automobile. These investments will not only ease the pinch on our wallets, they will also reduce the amount of global warming pollution we send into the atmosphere and promote healthier, more active lifestyles.

Alternative modes of transportation have significant benefits to the health of Oregonians. By promoting more active lifestyles with increased walking, biking, and public transportation, we will help to prevent obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions. This will likely save lives and save millions of dollars in health care costs.

As a national leader in environmental protection, Oregon has made a commitment to reduce our contribution to global warming. HB 3543, passed by the 2007 Oregon Legislature, requires Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to 10% below 1990 levels by 2020 and to 75% below 1990 levels by 2050.

The transportation sector accounts for nearly 40% of Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Technologies like electric cars and lower-carbon fuels will help reduce our global warming pollution, but to achieve our statewide goals, Oregonians also need more opportunities to reduce the amount we drive.

The best way to reduce our need to drive is through a combination of common sense transportation investments and more efficient land use planning. Allowing mixed use neighborhoods where jobs, schools, and shopping opportunities are within an easy walk of our homes helps reduce our reliance on the car.

Governor Kulongoski identified transportation as one of his top priorities in his March 21, 2008 State of the State address, declaring, “Oregon must have the greenest transportation system in the country.”

We agree. Making the appropriate transportation investments and creating more efficient land use planning would be a win-win for Oregon families:

• More money in the pocketbook
• Better options to get around by transit, walking or biking
• Reduced reliance on the automobile
• Reduced global warming pollution

We urge the 2009 Legislature and Oregon’s Congressional delegation to include the following concepts in any transportation funding or global warming policy package:

1) Funding for all Transportation Options – Any package must ensure adequate funding for greenhouse gas-reducing transit, pedestrian and bicycle facilities. Funding for these investments should be a legislative priority.

2) Establish Statewide Targets for Reducing Oregonians’ Reliance on Driving & Implement Metropolitan Land Use and Transportation Strategies to Reach the Targets – Adopt and apply a greenhouse gas reduction planning tool for transportation and land use decision making to meet the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. The technology already exists to estimate likely changes in driving from changes in land use and transportation systems. This technology needs to be deployed in all six of Oregon’s metropolitan areas (Bend, Medford, Eugene, Corvallis, Salem and Portland).

3) Support Community Planning and Design for Reduced Reliance on Driving – Help cities and counties improve their land use and transportation plans to provide Oregonians more choices of where to live and how to get around, including: encouraging mixed-use development; investing in connections like bike paths, sidewalks, and local streets that make biking, walking, and short driving trips more convenient; and making Oregon communities more compact and efficient by limiting outward expansion and sprawl. Link these local plans to the metropolitan strategies for reducing transportation emissions.

4) Support Technologies that Reduce Global Warming Pollution – Improvements in fuel-efficiency, such as plug-in hybrids, and the development of lower-carbon fuels, such as second-generation biofuels, are critical steps towards reducing transportation’s impact on our environment.

Oregonians are trapped between rising gas prices and a future compromised by global warming pollution. Oregon families need more transportation choices. Local governments need the tools to make our communities more efficient.

Please address transportation-induced global warming pollution during the 2009 Oregon Legislative session and the 111th United States Congress.

Sincerely,

Coalition Members

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