Let's get Congress to pass a bill called the "Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act of 2008."
The findings of said bill could have such neat bullet points as:
-- In 2007, people in the U.S. took more than 10.3 billion trips using public transportation, the highest level in 50 years.And so on.
--Public transportation use saves fuel, reduces emissions and saves money...
--The direct petroleum savings attributable to public transportation use is 1.4 billion gallons per year (and when secondary effects are taken into account... more than 11 million gallons of gasoline per day)...
--Households that use public transportation save an average of $6,251 every year.
Why, such a bill could include grants to improve public transportation in urban areas, say $750 million in 2008 and 2009; and another $100 million a year for non-urban areas.
The money could be used to reduce bus fares, acquire clean fuel equipment, expand commuter services, expand public transportation or maintain intercity service.
There's even a provision to establish up to five vanpool pilot programs -- whatever thy are.
And "Increased federal share for end-of-line fixed guideway stations," which is reimbursement for purchase and construction of park-and-ride lots serving "a commuter bus route that is more than 20 miles in length." (My favorite provision is in this section: The grant, it says, "shall be for 100 percent of the net capital cost of the project unless the grant recipient requests a lower grant percentage." Oh, yeah; I bet that happens often!)
The bill, according to its author, Rep. James Oberstar, D-MN, "provides much needed support to states and public transportation agencies and also increases incentives for commuters to choose transit options, thereby reducing their transportation-related energy consumption and our nation’s reliance on foreign oil."
Further explanations of what the bill would accomplish are HERE, written by Oberstar and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon.
And so on and so forth. Who could be opposed to such a bill? Not many. The House passed HR 6052 last Friday (read it HERE) and sent it on to the Senate. The vote was 322 to 98, and somewhat bi-partisan with 231 Democrats in favor, none opposed; and 91 Republicans in favor, 98 opposed. (Roll call HERE.)
Paul Ryan voted no.
No word from Ryan on why he opposed the bill -- although I would bet its $1.7 billion price tag had a lot to do with it.
But wait, there's more!
Last week, the House dealt with another apple-pie-and-baseball-titled bill, the "Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act." Actually, the full title is even better: A bill to protect consumers from price-gouging of gasoline and other fuels, and for other purposes. Full text HERE.
Who could be against that, you ask?
Not to put too fine a point on it, the bill prohibits anyone from selling gasoline during a presidentially-declared energy emergency "at a price that is... unconscionably excessive; and... taking unfair advantage of the circumstances related to an energy emergency to increase prices unreasonably."
You'd be for that, right? Well, Ryan wasn't. The measure received 276 yeas (225 Democrats and 51 Republicans) and 146 nos (1 Democrat and 145 Republicans) -- not enough yeas for the necessary two-thirds majority. Roll call HERE.