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OneRail Coalition: Climate legislation must weigh transportation impacts

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February 14, 2001 As the Senate contemplates sweeping climate change legislation, the OneRail Coalition submitted a letter to Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joseph Leiberman (I-Conn.) urging them to carefully weigh the implications of such a policy on different transportation modes. The group urged the Senators to "ensure that such funds could not be misallocated to the detriment of sustainable, environmentally favorable and energy efficient transportation solutions."

The letter reads:

As the Senate considers
far-reaching climate change legislation, the OneRail Coalition respectfully
urges you to ensure the rail sector is in a position to maximize its
contribution to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Clean transportation
solutions are an essential part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, any climate change legislation that
contemplates raising funds from the transportation sector must carefully weigh
the implications of such a policy on the different transportation modes, and at
a minimum ensure that such funds could not be misallocated to the detriment of
sustainable, environmentally favorable and energy efficient transportation solutions.

The OneRail Coalition
believes that shifting miles of travel to rail is essential to accomplishing
the nation’s climate and energy independence goals. According to the most
recent U.S. Department of Energy Transportation Energy Data Book, Amtrak is on
average nineteen percent more energy efficient per passenger mile than
commercial airlines and twenty-eight percent more efficient than automobiles.
Moreover, freight trains are on average at least four times more fuel-efficient
than trucks, and each ton-mile moved by rail rather than highway reduces
greenhouse gas emissions by three quarters or more.

For these reasons,
additional investments in clean transportation infrastructure would create
jobs, cut transportation costs for consumers, and help meet our energy and
climate goals. Our nation’s future requires policies that reduce oil
consumption and GHG emissions. Augmenting investment in the U.S. freight rail
network, in high-speed and intercity passenger rail, and in commuter rail
infrastructure can help accomplish these goals.

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