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Saturday, June 10, 2023

House transportation committee split on climate change-related issues

 House Transportation and Infrastructure committee members heard testimony from several experts during a hearing titled “Examining How Federal Infrastructure Policy Could Help Mitigate and Adapt to Climate Change.” 

The purpose of the hearing was to examine the role the transportation sector plays in global warming and learn from those in the public and private sectors that have demonstrated pragmatic solutions for reducing carbon emissions and building resilient infrastructure.

Witnesses included:

  • Daniel Sperling, California Air Resources Board member.
  • Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center.
  • Thomas P. Lyon of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.
  • Ben Prochazka, vice president of the Electrification Coalition.
  • Nancy Young, vice president for environmental affairs for Airlines for America.

Although the committee has generally agreed on many infrastructure issues, including looking into a vehicle miles traveled tax and other funding mechanisms, Democrats and Republicans were at odds over how much, if at all, the federal government should get involved in issues related to climate change.

Most Republicans on the committee questioned whether or not the government should mandate certain timelines and goals for emissions and alternative fuels, claiming the free market already does a good job creating cleaner energy.

“In fact, it’s the private sector that’s responding to industry-driven and consumer-driven market demands for cleaner energy and cleaner technology,” said ranking member Sam Graves, R-Mo. “As a result, we continue to have more fuel-efficient cars, trains, trucks, aircrafts and developed cleaner alternative fuels.”

As an example, Young of Airlines for America pointed out that from 1978 to 2017, U.S. airlines improved their fuel efficiency by more than 125 percent. Airlines had no federal mandate to reach that goal. Since fuel accounts for the largest overhead costs, it behooves companies to search for the cheapest fuel options possible.