Washington, D.C., June 18, 2008- U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, made the following statement during today’s hearing titled, “Planning Communities for a Changing Climate – Smart Growth, Public Demand and Private Opportunity:”
“Most communities want to grow, and I bet if you ask the governors, mayors and council members of these communities how they want to grow, I’m sure nearly all would say they want to grow smartly.
“After all, it is only common sense for community leaders to use the most up-to-date planning methods and ideas.
“Today’s hearing will highlight many smart ideas that can help communities grow bigger and more prosperous without subjecting themselves to some of the problems that are often associated with large urban areas, such as traffic, air pollution and congestion.
“However, while some of the concepts presented today could simply be described as common sense, others might be described as a waste of money. While reducing greenhouse gas emissions is good policy, it is a policy that should be properly balanced with economic realities.
“The testimony of Gregory Cohen, the president and CEO of the American Highway Users Alliance, shows us that many smart-growth policies don’t have to be expensive at all. For example, improved signal timing and intelligent transportation systems are among the most cost-effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases. I welcome Mr. Cohen here today.
“Where feasible and practical, I would encourage communities to enact some of these smart growth principles, based on their unique needs. One global warming principle that I’ve consistently advocated is that policies need to produce tangible environmental benefits. Local elected leaders will be pressured to adopt many smart-growth policies, but they should diligently research exactly how these changes might affect their communities. In many cases, there may not be much bang for their buck.
“Also, I do not think the federal government should dictate to local government how they should grow. Managing growth is a local decision, and local elected leaders should be free to take local conditions into consideration without taking burdensome one-size-fits-all regulations from the federal government.
“One argument that will be forwarded today is that smart growth will help reduce reliance on oil, presumably leading to lower gas prices in the future. I do not dispute that reducing demand for gasoline will help lower the price. However, people should not confuse smart-growth planning for policy that will help lower gas prices in the foreseeable future.
“The American people want solutions to today’s high gas prices. The American people need relief now. And while this hearing will help lay out a vision for the future, Americans also want us working today on policies that will help reduce gas prices in the near term.
“By dropping restrictions on domestic oil exploration, Congress could take the first, big step towards making gasoline more affordable in the U.S. and reducing our reliance on foreign oil. This is, of course, not the only thing Congress can do, but it should be the first thing we do. Yet, common sense policies like this don’t seem to be anywhere on the Democratic majority’s radar.
“Of course, there are many long term steps that Congress can take to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One of those is to encourage smart growth where feasible. But today’s first priority should be to increase domestic supplies of oil and gas, and I hope that Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic majority start focusing the House on this important priority.”
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