Cieslewicz Calls for Federal Support for Transit, Energy Efficiency Initiatives

July 1, 2008

Madison - Mayor Dave Cieslewicz today called on Congress to act quickly to pass two measures that would increase support for local transit and energy efficiency initiatives. With gas prices continuing to average $4 per gallon with little relief in sight, these initiatives would help local governments and commuters reduce both energy costs and global warming emissions.

"The threat of global climate change combined with the extraordinary increase in fuel costs demand a paradigm shift when it comes to energy use," said Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. "We need to accelerate our efforts to become more energy efficient and encourage use of mass transit alternatives. The federal government can help us make significant progress on both fronts by advancing these two pieces of legislation."

The Mayor is taking part in a nationwide campaign asking for Congress to enact two measures, both of which are supported by Cong. Tammy Baldwin:

- Full funding for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program, which would provide grants to cities and counties to implement strategies that reduce fossil fuel emissions, reduce energy use and improve energy efficiency. Earlier this month, a House committee appropriated $295 million for EECBG, and a Senate committee will take up the issue in July. The program has a potential authorization of up to $2 billion.

- The Energy Savings Through Public Transportation Act (H.R. 6502), which would provide additional resources to mass transit systems. Rapid increases in fuel prices have spurred new interest in mass transit options, with ridership on Metro Transit up 6% compared to last year, and reaching record levels. The resources provided by this legislation would help Metro Transit keep pace with that demand, and continue to provide a high level of service to mass transit users. This measure passed the House last week and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

"We're at a crucial point right now," said Cieslewicz. "We can pursue the Bush Administration strategy of rampant drilling in environmentally sensitive areas and cutting deals with foreign oil producers to keep fossil fuels just barely affordable enough to so that American families stay addicted and poorer. Or we can launch an aggressive program for energy independence that would put money back in the pockets of American families and American businesses while slowing global climate change. It should be an easy choice."

For more information about the City of Madison's sustainability initiatives, visit http://www.cityofmadison.com/sustainability/. For more information about Metro Transit, visit http://www.cityofmadison.com/metro/.

Contact:
  • George Twigg, 608-266-4611