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Articles by Michael Moynihan

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  • Sustainable funding for sustainable infrastructure

    This past Friday, Princeton University's PRIOR Center and New York University's Rudin Center convened a conference on what's next in transportation. The speakers, who included Mort Downey, former Deputy Secretary of Transportation and leader of the Obama transition team for transportation; Tony Shorris, former head of the New York and New Jersey Port Authority; current PA chairman Anthony Coscia; and others, agreed that we are at a crossroads in transportation policy.

    On the one hand, there has never been more enthusiasm for new modes of transportation such as high-speed rail and new approaches such as vehicle mileage tolling and congestion pricing. Billions in the stimulus bill and the Obama budget for rail have set off a frenzy of excitement about building high-speed rail in the United States. At the same time, however, the old system of funding infrastructure, the Highway Trust Fund, fed by gas taxes, has never been under greater stress. With a new transportation authorization bill likely to move this year, we stand at a key juncture in U.S. transportation policy.

    Transportation reform is vital to building a clean economy. Not surprisingly, therefore, much of the discussion at Princeton focused on the irony of trying to fund the reinvention of transportation out of a five-cents-per gallon gas tax -- at a time when reducing gas consumption has emerged as a national security, economic and environmental priority.

    Currently, the Highway Trust Fund, built on nickel-a-gallon gas tax, accounts for the lion's share of infrastructure funding in the United States -- not only for roads, but for mass transit as well. But the fund is essentially depleted (having required a bailout last fall to stay solvent). Additionally, with construction prices higher but gas usage falling, the gas tax now provides only about half the purchasing power needed to sustain our current system, let alone make improvements.

  • To make the most of this recession, we will need an economic expansion that restores our climate

    Cross-posted at the NDN Blog.

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    As the economic recovery and investment package backed by the administration works its way through Congress, and more evidence about the nature of this recession surfaces, an interesting exercise is to think about how we want to emerge once it is over. In the midst of current economic turmoil, it may seem difficult to imagine the post-recovery world, let alone accurately predict it. Nonetheless, starting with an outcome and working backwards to a policy prescription is far preferable to policy based purely on the passions of the moment. Following are my thoughts on the world I would like to see in 2012 and the resulting implications for current policy.

  • Emergency stimulus requires an emergency board

    Cross-posted from the NDN blog. —– Clean infrastructure stimulus is coming and it is coming fast, perhaps as soon as Jan. 20, given the new accelerated timetable of President-elect Obama and the Congressional leadership. For us at NDN, this is an exciting moment, as we have been advocating on behalf of a large green stimulus […]

  • Like the interstate system, a new electrical grid would revolutionize power transmission

    Cross posted at the NDN blog. —– Should the federal government build or incent others to build a new electron superhighway? In other words, a backbone for a 21st century electrical grid? At NDN’s recent event on clean infrastructure, Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) asked precisely that question, and it’s one more and more energy leaders […]