U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has left the Obama administration after several years of encouraging biking and walking while discouraging cell phones. During his departure, Secretary LaHood said, “By 2025, all of us, every family, will have some kind of hybrid or electric vehicle,” a very encouraging (if overly optimistic) prediction from a high level government official, and a Republican at that.
Secretary Ray LaHood’s career in public service goes on for more than 35 years. LaHood began as a teacher and county youth services director in his home state of Illinois. He later served under two Republican U.S. congressmen and won his House seat in 1994. President Obama nominated LaHood to become U.S. Transportation Secretary upon LaHood retiring from Congress in 2008.
In addition to his support of electric vehicles (EVs), LaHood was also a major supporter of high speed rail sighting 25 years as the time frame to connect 80% of the U.S. by high speed passenger rail.
These are very quick timeframes. High speed rail is just getting off the ground in some of the more progressive areas of the country. Meanwhile, yes, EVs and hybrid cars are gaining steam in the mainstream consumer car market but for every family to have some type of EV or hybrid by 2025 seems like a stretch. It’s even more of a stretch as traditional gas powered vehicles continue to push the limits in miles per gallons, especially when the Secretary himself has said that “People want out of their cars.”
In a sit down with The Atlantic Cities, Secretary LaHood recognized that, yes, 25 years as the time frame to connect 80% of the U.S. by high speed passenger rail is indeed very fast paced. However, Secretary LaHood is quick to say that the high speed rail plan is Obama’s plan, and that it is a good plan. Secretary LaHood goes so far as to say that Obama’s high speed rail plan is in line with Eisenhower’s plan for the interstate highways. LaHood thinks that high-speed rail should be his generation’s legacy to America.
During his sit down with The Atlantic Cities Secretary LaHood also said that the nation should not move away from the gas tax and not raise the tax either. People are going to always have cars, sure they might have better gas mileage or not use any gas, but the tax cannot go away. For Secretary LaHood the gas tax is part of the formula for funding transportation across the U.S. and should be indexed to something.
“No, what they need to do if they raise it is index it to the cost of living. When the gas tax was raised in ’93, and half of it was put to deficit [reduction] and half of it was put to infrastructure, if they would have indexed it, that means it would have gone up every year according to the consumer price index. Or tie it to something like that. Then we wouldn’t even be talking about raising it. Because it would have reached the levels that are needed.” said LaHood.
So long Ray, and thank’s for your efforts at making a cleaner, greener America. Let’s hope incoming Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx can maintain LaHood’s optimism for the role of Transportation Secretary.
Source: The Atlantic Cities
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison