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Integrating Climate Change into the Transportation Planning Process

Chapter 8: Institutional Relationships

Because of concern about climate change, MPOs and DOTs are participating in or leading a number of new inter-agency initiatives. Agencies recognize the need for cross-agency collaboration on climate change issues. Working together, agencies can transcend jurisdictional boundaries, pool resources, and share expertise. Many multi-agency groups are defining policy at the state and regional levels.

DOTs and MPOs that are not already involved in such groups may find them to be effective vehicles to develop mitigation strategies and quantification tools as well as determine common planning and analysis methods. Table 6 lists some agencies already involved in such groups.

Table 6: MPOs and DOTs Involved in a Multi-agency Climate Change Initiative or Plan
MPOs DOTs
  • Chicago Region
  • Denver Region
  • Houston-Galveston Region
  • San Diego Region
  • San Francisco Bay Area
  • Seattle Region
  • Washington, DC Region
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Washington

Note: This table is not a comprehensive list; it reflects only state DOTs and MPOs reviewed as part of this study.

8.1. Current Practices

Oregon DOT

The Oregon Department of Transportation is actively involved in several executive level efforts on climate change. A representative from ODOT provides input to Oregon's Global Warming Commission, an executive level advisory body. ODOT also has a representative in a working group of the Governor's Transportation Vision Committee, which is considering the need for transportation funding strategies that help to reduce GHG emissions. ODOT sees these committees as integral to the development of strategies to reduce GHG emissions through transportation planning and expects any new strategies will be developed in concert with these groups.

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning

At Chicago's CMAP, the Environmental Committee is at the center of the planning process, including planning for climate change. CMAP is dedicated to engaging their environmental partners as an integral part of the regional planning process, not as an afterthought. When the new director took the lead of CMAP, he invited the environmental community to provide input to the transportation planning process. The partnerships have grown easily since then. Since CMAP is a new agency, many environmental stakeholders felt they had an opportunity to become involved in the early phases, and have remained engaged in the planning process since then.

California DOT

Caltrans participates in California's Climate Action Team (CAT), which was created in response to an executive order from Governor Schwarzenegger. The group is headed by the California Environmental Protection Agency and includes representatives from other state level agencies with jurisdiction over environmental affairs and natural resources. The CAT plays an important role in developing strategies for the state to comply with the emissions reduction goal established by AB32. In addition, Caltrans supports the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in its role as developer of regulations and standards to reduce GHG emissions.

Washington DOT

Washington DOT (WSDOT) is heavily involved in multi-agency climate change activities, due in part to state legislation and executive orders. In response to Executive Order 07-02 and SB 6001, Washington completed a statewide climate action plan in early 2008, which resulted in more than 50 policy recommendations including 12 focused on reducing transportation GHGs. WSDOT was a member of the Transportation Technical Working Group that guided the policy development process.

In March 2008, Washington Governor Gregoire signed climate change framework legislation HB 2815, which includes (among other things), a requirement to reduce light duty vehicle per capita VMT 18% by 2020, 30% by 2035, and 50% by 2050. The state has formed a Climate Action Team (CAT), which includes Washington's Transportation Secretary. The CAT is being advised by sector-specific Implementation Working Groups, each comprising a diverse set of stakeholders and charged with developing the specific implementation steps needed to achieve the reductions in the climate plan. A WSDOT representative co-chairs the Transportation Implementation Working Group. The group is currently developing recommendations for specific actions that can help achieve the VMT reduction goals laid out in HB 2815

8.2. Barriers and Needs

While agency partners appear very committed to climate change action, and there is a high degree of cooperation, many MPOs and DOTs find that the sheer volume of activity on climate change and the pace of development make coordination difficult. Broader sharing of best practices for such inter-agency efforts may benefit both MPOs and DOTs

Updated: 03/27/2014
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