From voting against opening for drilling the Artic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to supporting attempts to increase vehicle fuel efficiency, protecting our environment is one of Jim’s top priorities as your representative in Congress. As a vocal advocate of establishing a balance between growth and development, Jim has been a consistent voice for the protection of our open spaces and forested regions, the purity of our drinking water and the reduction of traffic congestion from our roadways.
In rapidly-developing areas like Southeastern Pennsylvania, one of the most pressing challenges facing this region is figuring out ways to preserve our pristine farm lands and open spaces. Without open spaces to collect and absorb storm water runoff, flooding and pollution can become major areas of concern.
In both the 108th and 109th Congresses, Jim introduced legislation that would establish a federal challenge grant program to give local communities and governments more power to purchase land development easements. Similar to programs already in place in many Pennsylvania communities, the Farmland Protection Program Challenge Grant Act would provide matching federal dollars for preservation efforts that are already receiving state and local funds.
Also, along with Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District, Jim introduced the H.R. 658, the Family Farm Preservation Act. This legislation would amend the tax code to make exempt from capitol gains taxes the sale or exchange of qualified farmland development rights to conservation organization. Jim is also the founding member of the House Land Trust Caucus, a bipartisan collection of members interested in learning more about ways to preserve and protect open space through the legislative process. Jim’s caucus dedicate to the preservation of open space was the first such organization established in the House.
Stretching from Reading through northern New Jersey parts of New York and into Connecticut, the Highlands Stewardship Area provides and protects the drinking water supply for more than 15 million people living in the New York and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. Legislation Jim supported in the 108th Congress, the Highland Stewardship Act, would provide additional funding to help on-going land preservation and protection efforts throughout the region.
Jim was successful in the 108th Congress in having a provision added to H.R. 2557, the Water Resources Development Act, authorizing the Army Corps of Engineers to support environmental restoration projects along the Schuylkill River. Projects eligible include the management and restoration of water quality, control and remediation of toxic sediments and restoration of degraded streams, rivers, wetlands and other water bodies to their natural condition as a means of controlling flooding and erosion. The American Groundwater Trust named Jim its Legislator of the Year for 2004 for his support of water resources issues. Jim is currently working to have the same provision added in similar legislation in the 109th Congress.
Also in the 108th Congress, Jim introduced the Growing Smarter Through Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2003. This legislation would amend federal highway and transportation law to instruct metropolitan planning organizations to coordinate development of long-range highway and transit plans with local governments in order to ensure consistency with local land use plans.
Like many people, Jim is also very concerned about the nation’s reliance on foreign oil.
Americans consume 25 percent of the world's produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves. Of the oil consumed everyday in this country, two-thirds is used to fuel our vast and growing transportation network of cars, trucks and busses.
Legislation Jim introduced in December 2005, H.R. 4640, the Future Fuels Act, would provide a financial incentive for car manufactures to alter their facilities and produce new technology vehicles, like hybrids and advanced passenger diesel vehicles while establishing a set of minimum requirements for the production of these vehicles.
Using less oil will protect our national security while doing wonderful things for the environment. Automobiles are the single largest source of air pollution with carbon dioxide, one of the largest contributors to global warming. According to the Renewable Fuels Association, using fuels blended with at least 10 percent Ethanol would account for a nearly 20 percent reduction in the amount of greenhouse gases released into the environment. And Ethanol is rapidly biodegraded in surface water, groundwater and soil and is the safest component in gasoline today. Additionally, many cars on the road today are already “flexible fuel ready,” meaning they can operate on either gasoline or an alcohol-based fuel, like Ethanol.
Finally, Jim is also part of growing contingent of Pennsylvanians who think it’s about time for the state to give up its title as the one of the leading importer of trash in the country. From the unsightly and often dangerous trash-trucks winding through our region to the potentially hazardous conditions created by storing all that additional trash in our landfills, the time has come for our neighboring states to assume some of the burden Pennsylvania has long endured alone. In both the 108th and 109th Congress, Jim has cosponsored legislation, the Solid Waste Interstate Transportation Act, that would help limit the amount of trash Pennsylvania, and other states, are forced to import. It’s time to share more fairly the responsibilities for dealing with the trash and waste we all produce equally.