Until now, you might not have heard much about HR7, the transportation bill that's currently under consideration in the House of Representatives. It was supposed to be a straightforward, nonpartisan bill that authorized funding for the nation's aging transportation infrastructure. But, of course, it ended up a highly politicized boondoggle after the GOP worked to stuff it full of conservative pet projects.
How many ways can one bill trash the environment? Well, this one starts by opening up the North Slope of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas leasing, clearing the way for oil shale development on public lands, and allowing offshore drilling on heretofore off-limits areas of the Atlanta and Pacific coasts - including, of course, California.But this is a transportation bill, you might say. Well, the GOP says we need all the revenues raised from oil companies to pay for all the highway projects it needs to undertake. In other words, we need to drill for more oil and gas for the cash to build more highways. And to make a thoroughly unsustainable idea even more so, the bill would also do the following:
-reduce the amount of environmental review required for road projects.
-allow more and bigger semi trucks on highways
-cut Amtrak funding by 25 percent, and effectively kill investment in high-speed rail
-defund a program designed to create safe bicycle and walking paths to schools
And, as SF Gate muses, "perhaps the most directly absurd element of this transportation bill is its elimination of a 30-year federal commitment to commit a small portion of the gas tax (about 2.86 cents a gallon today) to mass transit."
In short, this bill is a big fat valentine to Big Oil; which is why one clever congressional staffer snapped a photo of the little piece of satiric artwork above. Congresswoman Niki Tsongas then tweeted out the pic, along with the text: "House debating HR7, trans reauth that harms enviro protections, cuts mass transit, and eliminates thousands of jobs."
Happy Valentine's Day, Big Oil.