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House members introduce gas-price-relief bill that doesn't involve drilling

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(Read caption) The Main Street Trolley in Memphis, Tenn.

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A bipartisan group of six House members introduced a bill that seeks to relieve high gasoline prices by expanding public transportation and housing options.

The proposed "Transportation and Housing Options for Gas Price Relief Act of 2008" (H.R. 6495) was introduced by Earl Blumenauer (D) of Oregon and is co-sponsored by Chris Shays (R) of Connecticut, Ellen Tauscher (D) of California, Jay Inslee (D) of Washington, Jerry McNerney (D) of California, and Hilda Solis (D) of California.

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If passed in its present form, the bill would allocate funds to:

• Expand public transportation and assist transit agencies in dealing with high fuel prices.

• Encourage car insurance policies that reward low-mileage drivers with low premiums.

• Offer incentives to employers and employees to use alternatives to commuting by car.

• Help local governments create walkable communities served by public transit.

• Encourage "location efficient mortgages" to make homes near public transit more affordable.

"This timely bill provides Congress with a great opportunity to show it is responding to Americans’ pain at the pump, insufficient public transit, and costly housing options,” said Michael Replogle, transportation director at the Environmental Defense Fund, which backs the bill. "America has less than 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves, so we will never be able to produce what we need domestically. Our best bet is to use our limited domestic gas supply wisely and facilitate alternatives to driving where possible, as this legislation does."

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This bill comes at a time when public transportation could use a boost. On Thursday, the Monitor's Mike Farrell reported that fuel prices are hitting mass transit agencies hard amid record ridership.

[via Grist]