Earthjustice Statement on Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act

Highway bill threatens to critically undermine public input and environmental review for surface transportation projects


Siham Zniber,

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works today marked up the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021. 

The following is a statement from Stephen Schima, Senior Legislative Council at Earthjustice:

“We thank Senators for their efforts to advance the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act today. However, we are deeply disappointed that this bill doubles down on the demonstrably false narrative that public input and environmental regulation under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) stand in the way of critical infrastructure. NEPA is a critical civil rights and conservation tool that ensures the voices of frontline communities most impacted by transportation projects are heard and that the impacts on their health and safety are considered. If we are to implement a surface transportation program that seeks to meet the challenges of the climate crisis and address the historical environmental injustices plaguing transportation infrastructure, then we cannot afford further rollbacks to NEPA. We hope, as this bill moves forward, that the Senate will fix these provisions.

“In addition, scientists have been clear — we have less than a decade to prevent climate catastrophe. While this bill contains positive improvements to increase access to EV charging infrastructure and reduce truck emissions, in order to meet this moment, we need to quickly and equitably transition zero emissions transportation powered by to 100% clean energy. Sweeping and ambitious legislation like President Biden’s American Jobs Plan will invest in climate solutions with an eye towards justice, jobs, and equity. This type of transformative bill is essential to meet the challenges of the climate crisis and addresses the historical injustices that plague transportation infrastructure. 

“Earthjustice looks forward to working with the Senate and the Biden administration on legislation that electrifies our transportation system, reduces our carbon emissions, and prioritizes underserved communities.” 

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