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Highways and Climate Change Newsletter

January 2009

Prepared by the Office of Planning, Environment and Realty Federal Highway Administration

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Recent Events

U.S. DOT Launches Web-Based Clearinghouse of Transportation, Climate Change Resources.The U.S. DOT has launched a new, web-based clearinghouse of information on transportation and climate change. The site provides an introduction to climate change and transportation and related information on greenhouse gas inventories and forecasts, methodologies for analyzing greenhouse gases from transportation, climate change and adaptation, and federal, state and local actions on transportation and climate change. The site also includes a calendar of events and will soon be enhanced to provide an opportunity for users to post and respond to discussions and receive updates by email. To access the site, go to:

Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting Highlights Climate Change. The Transportation Research Board (TRB) highlighted climate change issues at its January 10-15 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. There were more than sixty sessions on climate change and many included the presentation of research papers. Recordings of some of the sessions can be found at

Transportation Research Board Starts a New Climate Change website. Transportation Research Board (TRB) has a new website offering information on TRB activities and products addressing transportation and climate change. To access the site, go to:

U.S. EPA Releases Report on Sea Level Rise. On January 16, EPA released Coastal Sensitivity to Sea-Level Rise: A Focus on the Mid-Atlantic Region, which examines multiple opportunities for governments and coastal communities to plan for adapting to rising sea levels. The report finds that coastal wetlands in the mid-Atlantic region are already seeing effects of sea level rise, and if sea level rises by 50 cm in the next century, most of the wetlands on the Chesapeake Bay eastern shore would be converted to open water. EPA led the report with significant participation from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey. U.S. DOT was a contributing agency. More information on the Report can be found at: (inactive link).

U.S. Climate Action Partnership Testifies to Congressional Committee. On January 15, members of the US Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a diverse coalition of 31 entities including car makers, energy producers, utilities, and environmental groups, testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The USCAP supports an economy-wide cap-and-trade system that includes fossil-based transportation fuels. Along with strict control and reduction of emissions, the group advocates for generous use of offsets in a "strategic reserve pool" that could include domestic and foreign biological carbon sequestration. This was the first committee hearing under the new chair, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA). USCAP also released its legislative blueprint for climate protection, which includes a chapter on complementary measures for transportation and suggests that the transportation sector should make "a reasonably commensurate contribution" to GHG reduction. The blueprint can be found at:

The Road...Less Traveled: Analysis of VMT Trends in the U.S. The Brookings Institute recently released this report on the analysis of vehicle miles traveled trends in the U.S. The document ranks all 50 states and the nation's 100 largest metro areas for their driving footprint. See:

President Asks U.S. DOT to Issue Final Rule on Increased Fuel Economy For Model Year 2011. On January 26, President Obama signed a memorandum requesting that, by March 30, 2009, the U.S. Department of Transportation publish a final rule prescribing increased fuel economy for model year 2011, consistent with the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA). EISA mandated that the Secretary of Transportation prescribe annual fuel economy increases for automobiles, beginning with model year 2011, resulting in a combined fuel economy fleet average of at least 35 miles per gallon by model year 2020. A copy of the President's memorandum can be found at

State News

California Proposes CEQA Guideline Changes for Greenhouse Gas Emissions. California's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) has announced proposed amendments to guidelines for projects subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The proposed changes affect fourteen sections of the guidelines, and include guidance on determining the significance of and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. Proposed changes to the sample environmental checklist form would remove requirements for analysis of project impacts on level of service and parking capacity, changes which may be beneficial to transit, bike, and transit-oriented development projects. For more information, see: (Nov. 11: link no longer active.).

President Asks EPA to Review California Waiver Request to Regulate Motor Vehicle GHGs.On January 26, President Obama signed a memorandum asking the EPA to review again California's application for a waiver regarding emission standards for new motor vehicles. California had applied for a waiver to permit the State to adopt limitations on greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. EPA denied the waiver in March 2008. A copy of the President's Memorandum can be found at

Iowa Releases Greenhouse Gas Reduction Report.On January 2, the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council released its Final Report on greenhouse gas reductions to the Governor and General Assembly. The Report presents two reduction scenarios and encompasses 56 policy options. The policy options include several transportation strategies such as increased transit, commuter programs, low-carbon fuels, vehicle efficiency standards, and freight system efficiencies. More information and a copy of the Report can be found at:


Data and Tools for Understanding the Goods Movement-Air Quality Connection: Call for Abstracts. TRB is sponsoring a workshop on Data and Tools for Understanding the Goods Movement-Air Quality Connection on June 2-3, 2009, in Irvine, California. The workshop is designed to explore data sources and tools that can help in understanding the relationships among freight transportation, infrastructure, the economy, and air quality. Interested individuals or groups are encouraged to submit abstracts to be considered for presentation at the meeting by February 6, 2009. For more information, see:

If you have any suggestions for inclusion in future issues of Transportation and Climate Change News, or if someone forwarded this newsletter to you and you would like to receive it directly in the future, please send your suggestions or request to Becky Lupes at

FHWA HQ Contacts:

Office of Planning, Environment & Realty

Office of Natural and Human Environment, Sustainable Transport & Climate Change Team

David Carlson,
John Davies,
Connie Hill Galloway,
Robert Kafalenos,
Rebecca Lupes,
Diane Turchetta,

Office of Planning, Rob Ritter,

Office of Project Development & Environmental Review, Shari Schaftlein,

Updated: 10/20/2015
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