Biden–Harris Administration Takes Drive Forward to Combat Climate Change

“A proposed rule [yesterday] from the Department of Transportation would require states to measure the greenhouse gas emissions from their highway and transportation programs, and then come up with plans to reduce that harmful pollution.” —NRDC writes. “Implementing these standards will help ensure the historic investments from the bipartisan infrastructure law are done right.” Below is more info from the US Department of Transportation.

Courtesy of Department of Transportation.

WASHINGTON — [Yesterday], to advance President Biden’s commitment to combat climate change and bring down costs for families, the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for states and municipalities to track and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) makes available more than $27 billion in federal funding to help State Departments of Transportation (State DOTs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) meet their declining GHG targets. The new rule would take two important steps to combat climate change:

  1. Establish a national framework for tracking state-by-state progress by adding a new GHG performance management measure to the existing FHWA national performance measures to help states track performance and make more informed investment decisions.
  2. Create a flexible system under which State DOTs and MPOs would set their own declining targets for on-road greenhouse gas emissions from roadway travel on the National Highway System.

“With today’s announcement, we are taking an important step forward in tackling transportation’s share of the climate challenge, and we don’t have a moment to waste,” he said. US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Our approach gives states the flexibility they need to set their own emission reduction targets, while providing them with resources from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to meet those targets and protect their communities.”

This proposed rule builds upon and would add greater transparency to the work that 24 states and the District of Columbia are already doing under state law GHG target-setting requirements.

Transportation is the leading source of GHGs in the US, and the Biden–Harris Administration has put forward an integrated approach to reducing emissions from the sector while maintaining our economy works for all Americans. This entails the use of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to help state and local governments meet their GHG reduction targets, in addition to efforts to help reduce transportation costs for the American people through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, which are in place to make driving more affordable by increasing fuel efficiency.

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding is available through various programs over five years, including but not limited to:

  • The Carbon Reduction Program will provide $6.4 billion in formula funding to states and local governments to develop carbon reduction strategies and fund a wide range of projects designed to reduce carbon emissions from on-road highway sources.
  • The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program will provide $5 billion to states primarily through a statutory formula to build out a national electric vehicle charging network, an important step towards making electric vehicle charging accessible to all Americans.
  • A Discretionary Grant Program for Charging and Fueling Infrastructure will provide $2.5 billion in competitive funding to states and local governments to deploy electric vehicle charging and hydrogen, propane, and natural gas fueling infrastructure along designated alternative fuel corridors and in communities.
  • The Congestion Relief Program will provide $250 million in competitive funding to advance innovative, multimodal solutions to reduce congestion and related economic and environmental costs in the most congested metropolitan areas of the US
  • The Reduction of Truck Emissions at Port Facilities Program will provide $400 million in competitive funding to reduce truck idling and emissions at ports, including through the advancement of port electrification.
  • BIL includes more than $5 billion for the Federal Transit Administration’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Programwhich will help ensure our nation’s transit systems are tackling the climate crisis and working better for all of us.
  • BIL also includes $7.2 billion for the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside that can help state and local governments carry out environmentally friendly pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure projects.
  • Additionally, FTA’s $69 million Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Program provides funding to local communities to integrate land use and transportation planning with new fixed guideway or core capacity transit capital investment projects. BIL also expands TOD funding opportunities through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) programs.

In addition to new funding sources that states can access from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, new and existing formula programs provide states and local governments critical access to funding to encourage public transportation and other integrated land use and transportation projects and strategies that reduce air pollution by giving Americans more climate-friendly options for travel, and help state and local governments meet the emissions reduction targets this proposed rule would require them to set for themselves.

“Every state and local government in this country is seeing the impacts of climate change on their communities and infrastructure. States have a critical role to play as we work nationwide to bring down greenhouse gas emissions and slow those impacts,” said Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “State laws already require 24 states and the District of Columbia to set targets and track their greenhouse gas emissions and this proposed rule would bring this locally proven approach to scale nationwide.”

This proposed rule would help the transportation sector evolve from the leading source of emissions to become the biggest part of the solution, standardizing practices that many states have already established economy-wide, by making data comparable across states lines and metropolitan areas, and by facilitating better planning and outcomes for local communities.

The proposed rule also aligns with the Administration’s net-zero targets as outlined in the national policy established under Executive Orders (EO) 13990, “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis,” and EO 14008, “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.”

The proposed rule would require State DOTs and MPOs to report biennially on their progress in meeting the declining targets they establish and require FHWA to assess significant progress toward achieving those targets.

The proposed rule is expected to publish in the Federal Register next week. A signed copy of the document submitted to the Federal Register for publication is available on FHWA’s website. A final rule may be published after FHWA has had the opportunity to review the comments submitted.


 


 

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