Congress seems determined to turn America's roads into highways
to hell. Appropriations Committee members are cutting a dirty
backroom deal to put high-level nuclear waste on highways across
America. At the same time, Congress is making those roads less
safe by eliminating the National Maximum Speed Limit that has
saved lives and fuel. In addition, even more fuel will be wasted
by a Transportation Appropriations "rider" prohibiting the
Department of Transportation from raising gas mileage standards.
Rep. Tom DeLay's prohibition on higher fuel efficiency
standards will help the short-term profits of the auto
manufacturers and hurt consumers, the environment and the
economy. The "Delay rider" will in fact delay the time when
drivers can buy minivans, sport-utility vehicles and pickups that
get more mileage out of a gallon of gas. Because light truck
standards have lagged behind the standards for cars, the average
fuel economy of all new vehicles sold has actually declined from
26.2 miles per gallon in 1987 to 24.8 mpg in 1995.
Meanwhile, the Energy and Water Appropriations conferees are
trying to use the annual funding of the Department of Energy's
radioactive waste program to make the biggest change in high-
level nuclear waste policy since 1982. Sens. Domenici and
Johnston and Reps. Myers and Bevill are sneaking into the
conference report a provision that neither house has voted on.
The conference committee leaders want the federal government to
take out the nuclear utilities' toxic garbage and ship it by
truck and rail to the state of Nevada, whose citizens and elected
officials strongly oppose hosting a dump.
The two issues of speed limits and radioactive waste
demonstrate the hypocrisy that pervades Congress. The rationale
for lifting the National Maximum Speed Limit is supposedly that
states should have the authority to regulate their own roads.
Yet, Congress at the same time is perfectly willing to override
Nevada's law against siting a high-level nuclear waste dump
within its borders, and to force poisons onto that state's roads.
Conferees on the National Highway System bill still have a
chance to save one protection for public health and safety by
retaining the National Maximum Speed Limit for commercial trucks.
Given that the Energy and Water conferees want to load up trucks
with radioactive waste, keeping the speed limit for heavy trucks,
as the Senate bill would, becomes even more important.
CONTACT: Bill Magavern 202-546-4996 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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