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Highways and Climate Change Newsletter

September 2008

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

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Welcome

Welcome to the first issue of our new monthly newsletter, Transportation and Climate Change News. The FHWA Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty will be developing this brief newsletter each month to keep transportation stakeholders up-to-date on various issues related to transportation and climate change (although because this is our first newsletter, we covered significant events through the summer). We hope you find this newsletter helpful. We encourage you to suggest information to be included in the newsletter, which will be posted each month on the FHWA Planning, Environment and Realty website. We welcome your input and hope to provide you with timely and valuable information on climate change and transportation issues.

Sincerely,
Gloria Shepherd
Associate Administrator, Office of Planning, Environment and Realty

Recent Events

EPA Releases Greenhouse Gas Document for Public Comment. On July 11 the U.S. EPA released an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) soliciting public input on the effects of climate change and the potential ramifications of the Clean Air Act in relation to greenhouse gas emissions. The ANPRM solicits public input as EPA considers the specific effects of climate change and potential regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. In the ANPRM, EPA presents and requests comment on the best-available science, requests relevant data, and asks question about the advantages and disadvantages of using the Clean Air Act to potentially regulate stationary and mobile sources of greenhouse gases. This includes questions regarding the suitability of establishing National Ambient Air Quality Standards for greenhouse gases. The ANPRM also reviews various petitions, lawsuits and court deadlines before the agency, and the profound effect regulating GHGs under the Clean Air Act could have on the economy. EPA will receive comment for 120 days from July 11, 2008. A fact sheet is available at: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/Downloads/anpr/ANPRFactSheet.pdf. The ANPRM is available at: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/anpr/.

AASHTO Releases Primer on Transportation and Climate Change. AASHTO recently published an information report titled Primer on Transportation and Climate Change, which serves as an introduction to the issue of climate change and its implications for transportation policy in the U.S. The report summarizes the current state of scientific knowledge concerning the causes and impacts of climate change. It also provides an introduction to climate change policy issues, discusses trends in greenhouse gas emissions from road transportation, reviews potential measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and identifies issues for further research. To access this report go to: http://www.transportation.org/news/121.aspx.

FHWA Hosts Federal Interagency Meeting on Climate Change, Transportation and Land Use. On June 5, FHWA hosted a meeting with several other Federal agencies to discuss overlapping roles and responsibilities with respect to transportation and land use that could play a role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation sources. Senior representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Department of Interior, and the Army Corps of Engineers participated in the meeting. As a result of the meeting, a Federal interagency working group was formed to begin formulating coordinated activities to address climate change.

EPA Releases Draft Report on Land Use Scenarios and Climate Change. On July 10, EPA issued a draft report titled "Preliminary Steps Towards Integrating Climate and Land Use: The Development of Land-Use Scenarios Consistent with Climate Change Emissions Storylines." The report is an effort to develop an integrated climate and land-use scheme to mitigate climate impacts, and to encourage smart development practices that limit impervious surfaces. The report can be found at: http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisplay.cfm?deid=153506.

New Mexico DOT selected for Carbon Sequestration Pilot Project. After a nationwide search, the Offices of Natural & Human Environment (HEPN) and Project Development and Environmental Review (HEPE) have selected the New Mexico DOT for a pilot project related to climate change. The goals of the project are to quantify the amount of carbon that can be captured (sequestered) using native vegetation management on DOT lands, and estimate the revenue that could be generated through the sale of "carbon credits." Marketable carbon credits could include not only carbon sequestered in plants, but also emissions reductions resulting from reduced mowing and other management actions. HEPN and HEPE have worked closely with the Offices of Real Estate Services, Asset Management, Infrastructure and Safety during project conception to ensure adherence to FHWA policy. The pilot is scheduled for completion at the end of CY2008. Results will be shared with Division offices and state DOTs, and could help inform future transportation and climate change legislation. Contact Steve Earsom (steve.earsom@dot.gov or 202.366.2851) for more information.

Center for Clean Air Policy Testifies on "Climate Change and VMT: Why How Much we Drive Matters a Lot". On June 18, 2008 the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) testified before the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. Steve Winkelman of CCAP presented a discussion of how transportation greenhouse gas emissions are a function of vehicles, fuels, and vehicle miles traveled (VMT). He made the case for needing emission reductions from all three aspects of transportation emissions and especially that VMT reductions are needed and possible through smart growth policies and increased travel choices such as transit. He presented information on how much VMT reductions could be expected through the implementation of various policies at the local, state and federal levels of government. CCAP proposes an incentive program that requires all states and MPOs to set aspirational goals to slow growth in VMT and greenhouse gas emissions. All states and MPOs would be eligible for funding to set goals and develop implementation plans. Importantly, a central principle of the CCAP proposal is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution; different places will face different opportunities and challenges to increasing travel choices, improving transportation system efficiency and reducing VMT growth and greenhouse gas emissions. For more information see: http://www.ccap.org/index.php?component=news&id=107.

MPO Peer Workshop on Planning for Climate Change. Representatives from 13 MPOs shared their experiences and challenges in their efforts to integrate climate change considerations into the transportation planning process at a FHWA funded workshop hosted by the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) on March 6 and 7 in Seattle, WA. Each participant was given an opportunity to report on activities and approaches to climate change within their individual MPO. The full report/summary of this workshop is posted on the AMPO web site at http://www.ampo.org/assets/library/171_workshopclimatechgseattle.pdf. Two additional climate change peer exchanges have been scheduled. The first is in Albany, NY on Sept. 24, 2008 and the second is on Oct. 27, 2008 in Seattle, WA – prior to the start of the AMPO Annual Meeting.

New Transportation Planning/Climate Change Report. A new report titled "Integrating Climate Change Considerations into the Transportation Planning Process" was posted on the HEP web site in August. Many DOTs and MPOs are beginning to incorporate climate change issues into their transportation plans including explicit references to the effects of transportation on climate change and the role of transportation in mitigating these effects. Plans are also beginning to address the threats that climate change poses to the transportation system and potential adaptive responses. The report explores the possibilities for integrating climate change considerations into long range transportation planning processes at state DOTs and MPOs; reviews the experience of a number of DOTs and MPOs that are already incorporating climate change into their planning processes and identifies their successes as well as challenges; and reviews the federal planning factors, regulations and statutes that govern transportation planning to determine where and how climate change could be considered. The report can be found on the Planning, Environment & Realty (HEP) homepage at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/climate_change/.

If you have any suggestions for inclusion in future issues of Transportation and Climate Change News, please send them via email to Rob Kafalenos at Robert.Kafalenos@dot.gov.

FHWA HQ Contacts:

Robert Kafalenos, Office of Natural and Human Environment, Robert.Kafalenos@dot.gov.
Diane Turchetta, Office of Planning, Diane.Turchetta@dot.gov.
Rebecca Lupes, Office of Project Development & Environmental Review, Rebecca.Lupes@dot.gov.

Updated: 03/27/2014
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