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E-M:/ ISTEA 2 and Michigan



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Enviro-Mich message from Mike Boyce <birder@voyager.net>
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I received the following Action Alert and was asked to help spread the
word to activists in Michigan.  Is anyone in Michigan taking an active
role on this issue?  If so, please share your actions with the rest of
us here on Enviro-Mich.

Mike
_____________________________________________

From:		mrobinson@ucsusa.org
Date:		Fri, 26 Sep 97 12:31:52
Encoding:	3778 Text
Subject:	Contact Your Senators ASAP
To:		undisclosed-recipients:;


     DATE:	September 26, 1997
     TO:	Union of Concerned Scientists Activists
     FROM:	Michelle Robinson, UCS Transportation Program
     RE:	Federal Transportation Legislation and Attacks on Environmental
		Provisions


ISTEA 2 IS COMING TO THE SENATE FLOOR *** ENVIRONMENTAL ATTACKS COULD
BE ATTACHED TO TRANSPORTATION BILL
	
The time has come!  The federal transportation bill, the reauthorization
of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act - ISTEA 2
(S.1173) is expected to go to the Senate floor for debate and votes on
October 1. Due to the Rosh Hashanah holiday, floor debate will probably
continue on the 6th.  This is our chance to re-enact the most
significant piece of transportation legislation in a decade!

ISSUE: ISTEA changed the playing field six years ago, when it allowed
federal funds to be spent on a more balanced transportation system that
included bike and pedestrian facilities, transit, in addition to
highways.  After months of debate, key committees in the Senate and
House issued draft legislation.  The Senate Environment and Public Works
Committee recently released their bill which has some problematic
elements but for the most part, protects the core principles of the
original ISTEA by retaining its environmental programs and preserving
local control.

With your help, we fought off attempts to turn it back into a highway
only program—making a few more gains towards the vision of investing in
more environmentally friendly and sustainable transportation projects.
We need your help again in the final stages of the debate to fight off
amendments that would undo the progress that we have made.

ACTION: Contact your Senators immediately.  Urge them to:
· Support the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program (CMAQ)
included in S. 1173 and oppose an anticipated amendment that will allow
states to direct scarce air quality improvement dollars to highway
widening projects. Such efforts would at best provide temporary relief
from congestion problems, and would certainly exacerbate air quality
problems.

· Oppose any attempts either in S. 1173 or in amendments to exempt
highway projects from undergoing environmental review under the National
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

NEPA is the law that requires agencies proposing projects to detail
projected environmental impacts, prove the need for the project, and
demonstrate the lack of practical alternatives.  This process allows for
public review and citizen input on large infrastructure projects that
can alter the shape of communities and profoundly affect public health.
Some Senators are seeking to "streamline" this process which in essence
will gut any protections the process provides and signals a huge
concession to the special interest highway lobby.  Not only that, if
highways are to be exempt from NEPA, which industry will be next?  Power
plants? Toxic waste dumps?
The fight over these issues will be tough.  

CALL YOUR SENATORS TODAY!
Senate Switchboard --202-224-3121 or 1-800-962-3524

ADDITIONAL ACTION:
· Write a letter to the editor of your local paper, publicly urging your
Senators to oppose weakening of environmental protections in ISTEA 2.

We would greatly appreciate receiving a quick message letting us know
that you contacted your Senators on this issue. If you have questions
please contact Michelle Robinson at mrobinson@ucsusa.org or call
617-547-5552.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR EFFORTS!



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