House Dems Agree: Climate Bill Can Help Pay for Greener Transportation

Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Tuesday struck a deal ahead of Friday's make-or-break vote on climate change legislation to give greener transportation a place at the table.

The climate bill gives the states 10 percent of its carbon emissions allowances, the total worth of which is projected to hit $70 billion by 2010, to invest in energy-efficiency projects such as solar power or "smart" electricity grids.

Today's agreement allows 10 percent of those state allowances -- yes, 10 percent of 10 percent -- to help pay for transit expansions, new bike trails, or any other transportation efficiency project.

The climate bill already asks states and localities to meet targets for transportation emissions cuts, so the funding pact would back up that mandate with new money.

Energy and Commerce chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) just announced the change alongside transportation committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Anthony Weiner. Here is Oberstar's statement:

I commend Chairman Waxman for working with me to ensure that a portion of allowances are available for projects that will expand options for public transportation, bicycling, walking, and other green transportation alternatives for our citizens.  This legislation provides only a small portion of the funds needed to address surface transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, but is a very good first step.