Boxer says next transportation funding bill likely to eye air quality

| 11/18/2008

The first major federal transportation funding bill following the Minnesota bridge collapse of 2007 will likely include an unprecedented focus on emissions tied to goods movement.

Barbara Boxer, D-CA, announced last week that her version for the next proposed transportation funding bill will include a strong emphasis on air quality and goods movement.

Boxer, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, participated in a transportation briefing in San Diego on Friday, Nov. 14. At the briefing, Boxer spent nearly half of her address discussing emissions, goods movement and specifically diesel trucks. The senator quoted the California Air Resources Board’s research into goods movement related to trucking and said the high volume of truck traffic is expected to double by 2035.

“Nowhere is the need to improve goods movement more clear than in California,” Boxer said. “For example, 45 percent of all containerized cargo destined for the continental U.S. passes through California’s ports. … Not only does congestion cost time and money due to delays, it is a major contributor to increased transportation related emissions

Boxer quoted CARB statistics that estimate 2,000 premature deaths are caused annually in California by diesel emissions, in addition to billions of dollars in health costs.

“The next highway, transit and highway safety authorization provides an opportunity to take a fresh look at these programs and make the changes necessary to ensure our transportation system will meet the nation’s needs in the coming years,” she said.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer