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E-M:/ ISTEA up for Senate action today....CALL your Senators!!!

Enviro-Mich message from Davedbike@aol.com

While this posting was from last week, the issues are the same.  Please call
or fax Levin and Abraham and voice your concerns....TODAY!

The "Swithboard" number is further on down....

Dave DeRight

Senator Carl Levin 
459 Russell Senate Office Bldg
Washington, D.C. 20515
phone: 1-202-224-6221  fax: 1-202-224-1388

Senator Spencer Abraham
329 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg
Washington, D.C. 20515
ph: 1-202-224-4822 , fax: 1-202-224-8834

Subj:   STPP Action Alert 2/19/98
Date:  Thu, Feb 19, 1998 8:05 PM EDT
From:  sjubar@transact.org
X-From: stpp-owner@Radix.Net
Sender: stpp-owner@Radix.Net
Reply-to: sjubar@transact.org

February 1998
Surface Transportation Policy Project


Highway lobbyists are back in action, pressuring members of 
Congress to undermine many of the progressive provisions for 
transportation choices and environmental protection contained in the 
landmark 1991 federal transportation law.  We need to send a strong 
reminder to our elected representatives that the construction and 
asphalt industries aren't the only folks concerned about the future of 
transportation funding.

** Call your Senators to voice your support for ISTEA [Capitol 
switchboard: 202-224-3121; also call local district offices while they 
are on recess until Mon Feb. 23rd]; urge them to keep ISTEA's 
successful programs and policies intact and ask them to reject the 
many proposed anti-environment and anti-transit amendments to 
ISTEA 2 (S.1173).

** Send a letter to local newspapers (sample below), publicly urging 
your Senators to oppose attacks on transit and the environment in ISTEA 2.



ISTEA changed the playing field 7 years ago, when it shifted the 
federal focus from constructing Interstate highways to a more 
balanced transportation system that included bike and pedestrian 
facilities, public transit, and roads, and required more local control 
and community input.  A strong national grassroots coalition has so 
far fought off repeated attempts to turn the law back into a highway-
only program -- making important gains towards the vision of 
investing in more environmentally-friendly and locally controlled 
transportation projects.



In the Senate, we expect ISTEA II to come up for debate before the 
full Senate sometime between mid-March and late-April.  While 
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) is receiving some pressure 
to bring ISTEA II to the floor in the next few weeks, he would like to 
finish the budget resolution process before debating ISTEA II, as a 
way to contain fights over the amount of money to be spent.  The full 
House of Representatives is unlikely to debate their version of the bill 
before May 1.  



There are currently four critical threats to ISTEA's integrity  -- all in 
the form of amendments to the Senate's version of the bill 
(Amendments haven't yet been filed in the House, but the battles may 
be similar to those in the Senate).  All four amendments undermine 
the goals of ISTEA and are attacks on the environmental provisions of 
the bill.   

#1 -- Anti-Transit Amendments

Senators Lauch Faircloth (R-NC) and Tim Johnson (D-SD) are 
proposing amendments that would gut the transit program by 
eliminating a need-based approach to funding based and 
discretionary programs that ensure that communities can make new 
investments in bus and rail transit.  Under their proposal, communities 
would start receiving transit funding based on how much driving was 
done instead of how much transit was used or needed.  For more 
specific info on this visit APTA's web site at http://www.apta.com or 
call 202-898-4000.

#2 -- Anti-Enhancements Amendment

Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) has put forth an amendment that 
would allow the state DOT's to opt out of the enhancements program.  
Very simply this would eliminate the enhancements program entirely 
in many states.  

#3 -- Making Highway Building Eligible for CMAQ Funds

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) will likely introduce an amendment to 
allow state DOT's to direct scarce air quality dollars into expanding 
lane capacity on existing highways.  Such efforts would at best 
provide temporary relief to congestion and air quality problems, and 
would more likely worsen them within a few years.  Any attempt to 
allow CMAQ funds to be spent on highway widenings should be 
recognized for what it is: a cynical attempt to divert scarce air quality 
dollars to projects that worsen air quality and starve projects of 
funding that have actual environmental benefits.

#4 -- Attacks on the NEPA Protections

Amendments to ISTEA have been proposed that would seriously 
undermine the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in the 
name of "streamlining" environmental reviews.  For example, 
language being promoted by Senator Bob Smith (R-NH) would 
weaken NEPA in several ways, including limiting environmental 
agencies participation in assuring that reasonable alternatives to a 
project are explored and delegating the responsibilities of 
environmental agencies to the U.S. Department of Transportation.  

These four amendments are being promoted by ISTEA's opponents 
including several Senators and the highway lobby.  The highway 
lobbyists have been working hard during the past few months to find 
new ways to attack ISTEA II -- the new anti-enhancements 
amendment is a prime example.  



* Contact your Senators & urge them to oppose all 4 amendments 
as they undermine the goals of ISTEA and are direct attacks on 
the environment [DC offices: 202-224-3121, also call local district 
offices while they are on recess until Mon Feb. 23rd].  
* Send a letter to the editor of your local paper (see sample below).
* Circulate this alert to local partners, coalition members etc.
* Attend any public district meetings and/or functions which your 
Senators may be attending while on recess this week and ask them 
publicly to protect ISTEA and reject all proposed anti-
environmental amendments.  Their schedules are available from 
their local district offices.
* Check STPP's ISTEA web site for more information and ongoing 
updates at http://www.istea.org



Dear Editor:

It's no secret that most Americans see the protection of our 
environment as one of the more critical issues facing our nation.  
Indeed, it will likely be a deciding factor in many of this year's 
political campaigns.  Soon our elected officials in Congress have a 
chance to prove their resolve on this matter when the federal 
transportation bill will be debated on floor of the U.S. Senate.  While 
not immediately considered typical environmental legislation, this 
massive $145 billion bill contains critical funds for transportation 
programs that reduce air pollution and promote bicycling, walking 
and public transit programs that benefit the environment and can help 
to reduce global warming.

Unfortunately, the bill (S1173) faces a number of alarming attacks on 
the environment in the form of amendments; changes that would 
devastate public transit services nationwide, permit state transportation 
departments to eliminate funds for bicycling and walking facilities, 
allow highway expansion projects to be funded from the air quality 
program, in addition to an outright assault on the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  This important law has assured 
critical environmental reviews and basic safeguards and protections 
for all federally-funded transportation projects since its passage in 
1970.  We must urge both our U.S. Senators to stand up to these 
attacks on the environment, and vote against these harmful 



For more information, e-mail or call STPP's Campaign Team:
Laura Olsen -- lolsen@transact.org
James Corless -- Jcorless@transact.org
Phone: 202-466-2636

The Surface Transportation Policy Project (STPP) is a non-profit, 
public interest coalition of over 200 groups devoted to ensuring that 
transportation policy and investments help conserve energy, protect 
environmental and aesthetic quality, strengthen the economy, promote 
social equity, and make communities more livable.  For more 
information about STPP visit our web site at http://www.transact.org or 
call 202.466.2636.

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