'Today' Highlights Commuter Tax As Solution To Global Warming

NBC's environmental correspondent Anne Thompson cited global warming as a primary reason to implement a new commuter tax or as she euphemistically called it, "congestion pricing," on drivers. As incoming traffic passed by her on the Holland Tunnel the Today show's Thompson began her report this way: "Good morning, Meredith. Look behind me and you'll see this is what congestion pricing seeks to reduce. The 50,000 cars a day that rumble into Manhattan through the Holland Tunnel contributing to global warming. Now global warming has long been on the environmentalist radar but today its taking center stage in our political debate."

After that eye-grabbing video Thompson went on to highlight proposals from RINO Republicans Senator John McCain and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to cut down on greenhouse gasses and even ran a portion of an ad from Robert Redford as he challenged Americans: "Our moment is now and our challenge is to solve global warming."

On the bright side Thompson did air anti-tax complaints from commuters but never aired any skepticism to the premise of global warming itself.

The following is the full segment as it aired on the April 24th Today show:

Meredith Vieira: "How would you feel about paying extra to drive in certain areas? It is called congestion pricing and it's something Mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing here in Manhattan to reduce traffic. As you can see driving here, no picnic. Now other cities could soon be consider congestion pricing as well. NBC's chief environmental correspondent Anne Thompson is at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel linking New Jersey with New York. Anne, good morning to you."

[On screen headline: "Car Tax, Paying Up To Cut Traffic."]

Anne Thompson: "Good morning, Meredith. Look behind me and you'll see this is what congestion pricing seeks to reduce. The 50,000 cars a day that rumble into Manhattan through the Holland Tunnel contributing to global warming. Now global warming has long been on the environmentalist radar but today its taking center stage in our political debate. America's automobiles discharge more than 20 percent of the nation's global warming emissions so as part of his energy policy unveiled yesterday Republican presidential candidate John McCain proposed a national challenge to improve electric batteries."

Sen. John McCain: "Affordable battery powered vehicles that can meet average commuter needs would help us cut oil imports in half."

Thompson: "In South Carolina environmentalists are running this ad with Robert Redford-"

Robert Redford: "Our moment is now and our challenge is to solve global warming."

Thompson: "-to get it on the agenda for Thursday's Democratic presidential debate. And it is the driving force behind New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to charge drivers $8.00 to enter the busiest areas of Manhattan."

Woman in car: "I just think New York pays enough taxes overall. Enough taxes, enough tolls coming in."

Man in car: "It means that only rich people are gonna be able to live in Manhattan."

Man in car: "Why should I pay to drive in the city?"

Thompson: "The Mayor asks what price do New Yorkers want to pay?"

Michael Bloomberg: "With an increased asthma rate with more greenhouse gasses, wasted time, lost business and higher prices or do we charge a modest fee to encourage more people to take mass transit?"

Thompson: "London is doing it, New York may. Should the rest of the nation's congested cities travel down the same road? The average commute in this country is 25 minutes but in some places it's much higher. Los Angeles clocks in at 30 minutes. Philadelphia drivers take almost 34. It's 35 in Chicago and a temper testing 38 minutes in the Big Apple."

Alan Pisarski, Transportation policy analyst: "One of the things that congestion pricing can do is speed up the flow on streets which is much superior in terms of its carbon dioxide production than stop and go traffic."

Thompson: "And advocates also say that congestion pricing can help raise money to improve mass transit. Now while you're sitting in traffic jams this morning consider the cost of gridlock. The average driver spends 47 hours a year in delays. All those drivers waste some $3.2 billion gallons of gasoline and that costs the economy more than $63 billion. Meredith."

Vieira: "Anne Thompson thanks very much."

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.