Know Your Road Lobbyists: The American Highway Users Alliance

For a 77-year-old nonprofit group with substantial Washington clout, the American Highway Users Alliance keeps a pretty low profile.

Its members are not listed on its website, but interested parties are asked a few questions: "Are you outraged by the deaths of 120 people each day on our roads? Are you pro-environment AND pro-highway?" Average commuters might be lulled into thinking they could join with the click of a mouse.

FH_031907_09.jpgGreg Cohen, the American Highway Users Alliance president and chief lobbyist (Photo: NSTPRC website)

But the Alliance has a specific agenda — which is on full display in the lobbying filings of Greg Cohen, its president and CEO.

During the first half of this year, Cohen reported working to "support additional supplies of domestic oil," "oppose the placement of tolls and congestion pricing on existing toll-free roads," and "support maximum funding for highways," among other goals.

That maximum cash for highways, in the Alliance’s view, should continue to relegate transit to 20 percent of federal aid. If Congress’ upcoming six-year transportation bill "starts looking more negative on highways," Cohen warned last month, "there is potential that the whole bill could be slowed down here."

Moreover, the Alliance mobilized to oppose the climate bill passed by the House last month and lobbied against Senate legislation that would set national transportation priorities such as emissions reduction and transit expansion.

Cohen also reported lobbying in favor of government loans for U.S. automakers — an appropriate priority given that the Alliance’s 2007 directors included senior lobbyists at Ford, GM, and Toyota, according to its tax returns.

The Alliance has been called many things, from "a leading nonprofit, nonpartisan group that advocates for improved mobility and safety" to "an advocacy group representing a wide range of motorists," but its true identity is best described as a card-carrying member of the road lobby.

  • The 30th anniversary of Earth Day later that year [2000] served as the hook for The Highway Users to reach another 22 million who heard or viewed The Highway Users’ paid advertising message that highway improvements help the environment, including a groundbreaking release showing how congestion relief reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

    from the AHUA publication Historical Milestones: Celebrating 75 Years of Advocacy, available here

  • I’m still waiting for AASHTO to rename itself to “The American Highway Pushers Alliance.”

  • Are you pro-environment AND pro-highway?

    Huh?

  • It’s weird that the lobbying group in question is coming in for such punishment. Obviously their narrow focus on building highways is hurting everyone, but people build highways and those people lobby congress and this is how they do it. Is it wrong? Yes, absolutely. Is our system of legalized bribery working to undermine our environmental and transportation goals? Yes, absolutely. Is the problem really the guy who gets paid to do it? I’m not convinced. It would be nice if these people would stop misleading our leaders and the public, but they get paid to do what they do because our system makes it pretty easy to influence the people who decide what what we build. Maybe I’m just too cynical, but I have a hard time getting worked up when lobbyists mislead congress. This guy shills for highways because he used to work on T+I not because he’s some kind of zealot. I’m sure he’d shill for bunny rabbits if they had the cash.

  • v

    officially the lamest name for a lobbying group, only to be matched by the lameness of that tie. who on highways feel allied to the others on the road?

  • This guy shills for highways because he used to work on T+I not because he’s some kind of zealot. I’m sure he’d shill for bunny rabbits if they had the cash.

    Dan, I think I’d at least be able to respect him if he did it out of zealotry. But it’s just about the paycheck.

  • J. Mork

    I’m okay with the tie.

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