BROAD COALITION OF ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS URGES IMMEDIATE PASSAGE OF THE SAVE THE BEES BILL

Pascrell Excoriates Environmental, Economic Impact of NY’s Congestion Pricing Scheme

In official comment, New Jersey congressman demands NY amend its proposed tax on NJ drivers

 

PATERSON, NJ – U.S. Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) today reiterated his opposition to New York’s proposed congestion pricing scheme which would impose a heavy financial and environmental burden on New Jersey. In a comment submitted to the Central Business Tolling Program and Federal Highway Administration, Congressman Pascrell demanded a full-scale environmental study to show how the tri-state region would be impacted should New York’s scheme be implemented.

 

“Our neighbors in North Jersey and throughout the region are not happy. Once again, New York is proposing that North Jerseyans get stuck with the short end of the stick. And as a member of New Jersey’s congressional delegation, I will not accept it,” wrote Pascrell, a longtime champion of clean air and environmental justice. “As I explained in October 2021, this so-called environmental assessment should not be a rushed rubber stamp. I once again suggest that a change of this magnitude requires a full-blown federal Environmental Impact Statement to comprehensively show how the entire region will be impacted.

 

Pascrell concluded, “I can think of one word that describes this kind of arrogant, misguided, unfair idea: Chutzpah. If New York does not make drastic changes to its plan and work with New Jersey, its neighbor across the Hudson River, this plan must be denied.”

 

Pascrell has been an outspoken opponent of New York’s proposed congestion pricing scheme, which would saddle many New Jersey travelers with excessive fees and taxes. In October 2021, Congressman Pascrell spoke in defense of New Jersey commuters at a public hearing on the Central Business District Tolling Program. In April of that year, he joined with Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-05) demanding U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg commit to a comprehensive review of the effects that the congestion tax would have on New Jersey’s commuters, and to require a robust public participation process, including public hearings in Northern New Jersey.

 

Congressman Pascrell’s full comment to the Central Business Tolling Program is below.

 

September 9, 2022

 

The Honorable Richard Davey                                   The Honorable Richard J. Marquis

President                                                                     New York Division Office Administrator

Metropolitan Transit Authority                                  Federal Highway Administration

New York City Transit                                               Leo W. O’Brien Federal Building

Central Business District Tolling Program                Room 719

2 Broadway, 23rd Floor                                              11A Clinton Ave.

New York, NY 10004                                                 Albany, NY 12207

 

 

Dear Mr. Davey and Marquis:

 

I write to submit the below comment on the Central Business District (CBD) Tolling Program Environmental Assessment. Thank you very much for your time and attention.

 

Our neighbors in North Jersey and throughout the region are not happy. Once again, New York is proposing that North Jerseyans get stuck with the short end of the stick. And as a member of New Jersey’s congressional delegation, I will not accept it.

 

As I explained in October 2021, this so-called environmental assessment should not be a rushed rubber stamp. I once again suggest that a change of this magnitude requires a full-blown federal Environmental Impact Statement to comprehensively show how the entire region will be impacted.

 

Yet from what we learned in this truncated process, we still can see that the proposed congestion pricing schemes are a bridge too far. Not only has New Jersey barely had a say in the matter, these proposals do not ensure an equitable burden for all commuters in our region. Our residents and neighbors were cut out of the process completely. We use these roads and any views we have were brushed aside. Ignored. Dismissed. Use any terminology you want. It is not fair. It’s a raw deal. It’s highway robbery.

 

I can appreciate the admirable goal of reducing traffic in Manhattan. We want to reduce air pollution and fight the harmful – and growing – impacts of climate change. Fighting climate change is a no-brainer and it must be one of the top goals of all our governments for the foreseeable future. We must ensure a safe and healthy environment for future generations to come – all of us who are here as good faith brokers can agree with that sentiment. I know most of us in the tristate region feel this way very strongly.

 

But that commitment does not mean New Jersey alone has to shoulder the burden of supporting New York’s mass transit system. That commitment does not demand that New Jersey and her citizens must carry the whole load of our efforts to fight for our environment. Fighting for clean air demands a team effort. So, trying to jam a tax hike onto the backs of New Jersey commuters alone is wrong, unacceptable, and will not stand.

 

I support any city or state’s work to make this world a better place for our children and our grandchildren. There are many things we can be doing. New York should consider a more holistic look at the region to apply congestion pricing strategies at all Manhattan crossings. At the very least, double taxation on New Jersey commuters will not stand. New Jersey drivers deserve credits at all crossings. I join Governor Murphy and my colleagues in standing against any plan that is not fair.

 

While MTA would be the recipient of the new tax revenue from New Jersey residents, new burdens would fall upon New Jersey Transit. While our state’s mass transit system would be expected to carry former drivers into Manhattan, we derive none of this new revenue.

 

I am sure I do not need to remind anyone that Manhattan’s roads are federal aid roadways. In the zone, there are approximately 443 lane miles of federal aid roadways that have been renovated and upgraded thanks to countless federal investments funded by American drivers. Of those are 223 lane miles that are part of the National Highway System.

 

Why does that matter? It matters a lot. By executing its unfair plan, New York would effectively be limiting access to roads that we all paid for without consulting its neighbors – and then charge an extra tax on top for New Jersey drivers. The unfair New York scheme would block us from using roads we paid – roads we built!

 

I can think of one word that describes this kind of arrogant, misguided, unfair idea.

 

Chutzpah.

 

If New York does not make drastic changes to its plan and work with New Jersey, its neighbor across the Hudson River, this plan must be denied.

 

Sincerely,

 

_____________________________

Bill Pascrell, Jr.

Member of Congress

 

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