The Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC), a project of Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), has released a paper titled “Transportation Policies for America’s Future.” The comprehensive set of policy recommendations promises to transform US transportation policy and protect the nation’s economic and national security by contributing to reduced oil consumption. According the council, these policies will result in a more market-oriented model that offers more consumer choices, and provide citizens with a more efficient, more effective network of roads and rails.
ESLC Co-Chairman Frederick W. Smith, Chairman, President and CEO of FedEx Corporation, was quoted “The lynchpin of our dependence is our cars and trucks, which use the majority of our oil and upon which we depend for the mobility that powers our modern economy. We have made significant improvements in the areas of new vehicle technologies and alternative fuels, and must continue that effort. But we have for too long neglected the connection between our oil consumption and the network of roads and rails themselves that make up our transportation system. Today, we offer a new vision, for a more market-friendly, more transparent, less congested, and less oil-intensive transportation system.”
In the US, the current federal surface transportation legislation expired in September 2009. The fund—which doles out more than $50 billion a year in highway and transit programs—has been prolonged with a series of short-term extensions with the latest set to expire on March 4, 2011. The US Senate and House are expected to move forward with hearings to develop a new, long-term transportation bill.
The recommendations outlined in Transportation Policies for America’s Future are designed to introduce a more market-oriented transportation model that uses oil consumption as a key metric by which decisions are made and evaluated. Long-term modeling by the council suggests that its major policies could save more than 7 billion cumulative barrels of oil by the year 2035 if implemented. The council’s key recommendations include the following:
* Establish the reduction of oil consumption as a principal metric at the U.S. Department of Transportation
* Create a new federal formula program focused on improving system performance in urban areas using pricing strategies and single-occupancy vehicle alternatives
* Create a competitive program that makes funds available for congestion-mitigation proposals that seek to deploy dynamic tolling, performance-based technological improvements, transit solutions, and Travel Demand Management (TDM) initiatives
* Establish a program to fund nationally-significant projects that improve the efficiency of freight and goods movement, and have a substantial impact on interstate commerce
* Remove federal legal restrictions on tolling road capacity that could bring about congestion relief
* Actively promote the long-term deployment of a comprehensive, privacy-protective Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) fee
* Pilot approaches to pre-development regulations for projects expected to achieve sustainable oil savings
Interestingly, natural gas is not on this agenda. Increased spending on alternatives may attract favor in the short term, but an abundance of oil and, more importantly natural gas may be key to revolutionizing the transportation industry while at the same time revitalizing the US economy and decreasing dependence on imported crude.