Partisanship is the reason for constant gridlock in Congress. One exception has been the issue of transportation. NRDC is on the record — analyzing and critiquing yet supporting — the bipartisan federal transportation bill that passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Passage of that bill through committee was made possible by the collaboration of two leaders diametrically opposed on the partisan spectrum: Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK). Boxer and Inhofe cobbled together a two-year transportation bill called
MAP-21, and while it is far from perfect it includes some advances in transportation policy. Better yet is the Senate Commerce Committee’s addition to the bill, which includes provisions that would benefit our environment.
This is a stark contrast with the House of Representatives, which is rolling out its uniquely terrible bill in pieces this week. The first thing to note is that to pay for the transportation bill, the House is taking the unprecedented step of marking up three drilling bills in the Natural Resources Committee. One opens Alaska’s Arctic National Arctic Refuge to drilling; another would actually require new drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts (including more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, which is still recovering from the disastrous BP oil spill); and another opens millions of acres in the western U.S. to oil shale development. These bills would damage some of America’s most pristine natural resources, and as I’ve written about many times before they would do nothing to boost the nation’s energy independence.