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Highways and Climate Change Newsletter

October 2008

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

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Recent Events

Governor Schwarzenegger Signs Landmark Legislation Linking Transportation Planning, Housing, California Quality Act (CEQA) requirements and Greenhouse Gas Emissions.On September 30, the California Governor signed Senate Bill No. 375, which is seen as the platform for implementing the state's global climate change legislation (AB 32) goals in the transportation sector. The legislation tasks California Air Resources Board (CARB) with setting GHG emissions targets for light duty vehicles for 2020 and 2035. It also requires that the 27 MPOs in the state develop "sustainable communities strategies (SCS)" to meet the GHG targets as part of their regional transportation plans. Another element of the legislation includes exemption from certain CEQA requirements for some transit priority projects, mixed use and residential projects consistent with the SCS. The legislation also includes new requirements for Regional Housing Needs Assessments and an alignment of that process with the Regional Transportation Planning Process. Funding for some activities under SB 375 will be appropriated from Senate Bill No. 732. For more information, see: http://gov.ca.gov/index.php?/fact-sheet/10707/.

California Attorney General Forges Greenhouse Gas Agreement with City of Stockton. On September 9, Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced a landmark agreement with the City of Stockton requiring the City to identify and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging downtown growth, constructing thousands of new residential units within its current city limits, developing a bus rapid transit system and requiring all new buildings to be energy efficient. The agreement follows a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club and the Attorney General over the proposed Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Stockton General Plan, which outlined how the City would manage its growth through 2035. For more information, see: http://ag.ca.gov/newsalerts/release.php?id=1608&category=global%20warming.

Wisconsin's Strategy for Reducing Global Warming. In July 2008, the Governor's Task Force on Global Warming submitted its first report on how Wisconsin could reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Several proposals relate to transportation including a proposal that a "carbon audit" would be required on proposed transportation projects. Other actions include more TDM options and promoting walking and biking. For more information, see: http://dnr.wi.gov/environmentprotect/gtfgw/.

University of Maryland Study on Economic Impacts of Global Climate Change. The University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Research released a study that examines the potential costs of climate change impacts on industry, infrastructure, natural resources, and public health. It includes a national overview and case studies focused on specific states. For more information, see: http://www.cier.umd.edu/climateadaptation/index.html.

Washington State DOT Adopts Requirements for Analysis of GHG Emissions. WSDOT updated the Energy section of its Environmental Procedures Manual earlier this year to include requirements for analysis of GHG emissions from project operation and construction. Qualitative or quantitative analysis is required, depending on the scope of the project and the availability of analysis tools. WSDOT also has an extensive web page listing activities that the department is undertaking to reduce its contribution to GHG emissions; see http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/publications/manuals/fulltext/M31-11/440.pdf. For more information on Washington State climate change issues, see: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/environment/climatechange/

Climate Change Policy and CO2 Emissions from Passenger Vehicles. A recent study released by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office notes that policies that put a price on greenhouse gas emissions—such as "cap and trade" or CO2 taxes—would have a relatively muted effect on passenger vehicle emissions; most CO2 reductions would take place in other sectors such as power generation. Increases in motor fuel prices under such policy would likely be substantially lower than those of recent years, and have less effect on emissions than increases in CAFE standards scheduled over the next decade. For more: http://www.cbo.gov/publication/41738

TRB's Special Task Force on Climate Change and Energy. The Transportation Research Board (TRB) Special Task Force on Climate Change and Energy was established to develop a strategic plan and roadmap for TRB's energy and climate change program and activities, and to coordinate transportation and climate change-related activities across TRB standing committees. The task force's charge is to develop the plan and roadmap within a context that addresses critical climate change and energy issues that affect all modes of transportation, and can be addressed through means of policy, technology, and rethinking of our current transportation infrastructure. In addition, the task force is coordinating the development of sessions that will make up the spotlight theme "Transportation, Energy and Climate Change" for the 2009 TRB Annual Meeting. To see a roster of Special Task Force members, see http://gulliver.trb.org/directory/comm_detail.asp?id=3465

NHTSA Issues Final EIS for New CAFE Standards.On October 10, 2008, the National Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards required by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. NHTSA recently proposed standards for model year 2011-2015 passenger cars and light trucks. The FEIS compares the environmental impacts of the agency's Preferred Alternative and reasonable alternatives, including a "No Action" alternative. Among other potential impacts, NHTSA analyzed the direct and indirect impacts related to fuel and energy use, emissions (including carbon dioxide and its effects on temperature and climate change), air quality, natural resources, and the human environment. The FEIS can be found at http://www.nhtsa.gov/DOT/NHTSA/Rulemaking/Rules/Associated%20Files/CAFE%20FEIS.pdf.

Reminders

Annual Transportation Research Board Meeting to Spotlight Transportation, Energy, and Climate Change.The TRB 88th Annual Meeting, January 11-15, 2009, will include more than 60 sessions and workshops that address the meeting's spotlight theme of Transportation, Energy, and Climate Change. The intent of these sessions will be to raise awareness of the implications of both the transportation sector's adverse contributions to climate change, as well as the effect that climate change has had and will continue to have on the transportation systems of tomorrow. Two Sunday workshops are intended for those who wish to gain a broad understanding of the issues related to climate change and transportation—"Climate 101: The Basics of Climate Change" on Sunday morning, and "Climate Change and Transportation 101" on Sunday afternoon. These workshops will provide useful background for the many other sessions related to climate and transportation that will be held during the remainder of the week. For more information on the TRB Annual Meeting, see: http://www.trb.org/news/blurb_detail.asp?id=9550.

EPA Releases Greenhouse Gas Document for Public Comment.The comment period is still open on the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) released by EPA on July 11, 2008, soliciting public input on the effects of climate change and the potential ramifications of the Clean Air Act in relation to greenhouse gas emissions. EPA will accept comments until November 28, 2008. 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 and reservations 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. 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/.

If you have any suggestions for inclusion in future issues of Transportation and Climate Change News, please send them via email to Robert 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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