Testimony of Jennette Gayer, Advocate with Environment Georgia, to the Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable

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Environment Georgia

Thank you Chairman Johnson and members of the Roundtable, my name is Jennette Gayer and I work with Environment Georgia which is a citizen-funded organization that works to protect Georgia’s air, water and green spaces. We have an active membership in the Atlanta area and would look forward to promoting a good list to voters in the coming year.

I wanted to offer and additional frame to consider as you continue to develop a transportation list and that is ending our regions oil dependence.

Atlantans are familiar with the tolls associated with our region’s oil reliance.

Obviously, this is felt regularly by many of us at the gas pump. A recent study found that the Atlanta region spends more money on transportation than other larger or similarly sized regions around the country because of the fuel and automobile upkeep costs associated with long commutes.

There is also the gnawing sense that our dependence on oil enriches and empowers nations that do not have our best interests at heart–According to the Energy Information Administration half of the oil consumed in the United States is imported from foreign countries and 2/3 of that oil is used for transportation.

And finally, there is an environmental toll that is most obvious when it makes front page news like last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill that released nearly 5 million barrels of oil in to the Gulf of Mexico. The fact is that every step of the way– from extraction, to refining, to shipping or piping, to combustion in our vehicle engines, is harmful to our health and natural resources.

Investing in transit will give Atlantans a viable way to reduce the money they spend on transportation and is the largest step our region can take to reduce our dependence on oil.

Today’s decision to include approx. $3 billion in public transportation on a draft list is a good start but we need to go even further. We should be dedicating $4 billion to public transportation, especially since there are other funds available for roads, and get serious about reducing our dependence on oil. Thank you.