This is Your Life, Tom DeLay: Mass Transit Foe

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Four years ago today, reported the Houston Chronicle, Tom DeLay denounced local environmental groups’ proposal to settle a clean air lawsuit if Houston-area officials would agree to promote mass transit and cut back on plans for new roads. At a luncheon before the Houston Club:

DeLay… said the settlement offer requires that "you will implement immediately a huge accelerated rail transit system that has nine corridors and costs at least $ 30 billion."

The paper pointed out that contrary to DeLay’s claim:

The actual language of the offer calls for "accelerated development of a regional rail network" by giving "immediate priority status" to planning studies for nine new rail lines extending throughout the metropolitan area.(Houston Chronicle, 4/13/01)

In a town that had earned the dubious distinction of surpassing Los Angeles in having the worst ground-level ozone in the country, DeLay had long staked out his ground as a foe of mass transit. In addition, Houston and its suburbs is notorious for traffic back-ups and snarls, subtracting from the quality of life for area residents.

Indeed, DeLay went so far that he used the federal budget process to deny the city federal public transportation funds to prevent it from considering proposals to put in rail. (Texas Observer).

That DeLay would go to such lengths to oppose mass transit despite the interests of his constituents makes sense when you look at his more important constituents: his donors. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the DeLay ranks fourth among his House colleagues for contributions since 1989 from the oil and gas industry, with $560,400, and fifth for contributions from the auto industry, with $268,600.