Climate Change Mitigation Peer Exchanges: Comprehensive Report
5. Future Needs and Participant Recommendations
MPOs and DOTs expressed a number of needs from and recommendations for FHWA, including tools that would help them to both quantify and analyze their emissions and national policy or guidance to help MPOs and DOTs anticipate future Federal requirements.
MPOs and State DOTs are interested in tools and best practices for communicating with the public about climate change and transportation.
At all three peer exchanges, participants mentioned challenges they faced in communicating effectively with the public. Participants were interested in seeing examples of materials that peer organizations had prepared in order to develop their own messaging, although they also recognized the importance of tailoring these messages to their specific contexts. An online clearinghouse of communications materials that allowed users to sort by message or program type could be particularly helpful.
MPOs and State DOTs are interested in tools to help improve strategy analysis and selection.
MPOs and State DOTs are interested in assessing the impacts of their activities and plans, and some also expressed concern at the wide variety of techniques currently used to analyze emissions impacts and the extent to which these can (or cannot) be compared. Specific interests among participants included:
- State DOTs are interested in tools that enable them to evaluate the GHG reductions from DOT construction and maintenance activities and statewide policies.
- MPOs would like to see examples of best practices in GHG analysis and performance measurement.
- Participants would also like help in applying existing modeling and analysis tools, such as through the FHWA Resource Center, and guidance for collecting the data needed for emissions analysis.
- Participants would like to see an update to FHWA's publication on the multi-pollutant emissions benefits of transportation strategies, addressing the GHG emissions benefits of these strategies and effects on other pollutants, based on the MOVES model.
MPOs and State DOTs would like greater leadership and direction on policy issues such as freight and how best to incorporate climate change in regional plans.
Peer exchange participants mentioned several areas where a more coordinated national policy or a clearer understanding of national funding priorities would be helpful as they plan for the future.
- MPOs see a need for national coordination of freight policy, since the current competitive nature of ports and freight hubs makes planning for freight traffic and accommodating it particularly difficult. [Note: Since the time of the peer exchanges, Federal legislation has called for a national freight policy and recommended creation of State freight advisory boards and State freight plans.]
- State DOTs and MPOs who receive CMAQ funding are interested in how these funds are dispensed across the country and would be interested in a report presenting the funded items broken down by project category.
- At the time of the peer exchanges, the lack of a Federal transportation legislation concerned DOTs and MPOs, whose programs and funding levels seemed tenuous. MPOs and DOTs expressed interest in guidance and an improved understanding of potential requirements for GHG analysis and incorporation of climate change in their plans.