The federal government is largely setting the stage for reform through both legislative and agency action, and California has much to learn from this attempt to align policy reform with new cultural values related to climate change, social equity, housing affordability, location efficiency, public health, and economic growth. In his July 14, 2009 testimony to the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Secretary Ray LaHood of the United States Department of Transportation (Department) stated:
“Even if vehicle fuel efficiency were to reach 55 mpg by 2030, we would still see only modest decreases in transportation carbon dioxide emissions without a decrease in vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Addressing VMT growth plays a key role in decreasing transportation related greenhouse emissions and should be included in overall efforts to prevent climate change. One way to achieve significant reductions in VMT is to develop more livable communities.”
Secretary LaHood went on to explain that as the Department considers the next surface transportation reauthorization, it will prioritize reducing VMT and GHG emissions through smart community planning, and enacting measures that provide added economic benefit to all Americans. Furthermore, on June 16, 2009, the United States Housing and Urban Development, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Transportation announced the forming of a joint “Partnership for Sustainable Communities”, including the following six objectives:
- Providing more transportation choices.
- Promoting equitable, affordable housing.
- Enhancing economic competitiveness.
- Supporting existing communities.
- Coordinating policies and leverage investment.
- Valuing the uniqueness of communities and neighborhoods.