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Air Quality and Sustainability Highlights

May 2010

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

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Recent Events

Senators Kerry and Lieberman Introduce Climate Legislation. On May 12th, Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman introduced the American Power Act. Several provisions of the bill relate to surface transportation. Among the requirements:

Along similar lines as in their letter last month, a coalition of transportation organizations wrote a letter to Sens. Kerry and Lieberman objecting to the distribution of funding in the proposed bill. According to the coalition, at least 77 percent of revenues collected from new fees on motor fuels would be diverted away from transportation sources.

FHWA Climate Effects Report Released. Regional Climate Effects: Useful Information for Transportation Agencies provides useful information on projected changes in the climate that can be used to inform transportation planning and project development efforts, as it can help illuminate how the environment that affects and supports transportation facilities may change over time. The report includes basic information on projected future climate change effects (changes in temperature, precipitation, storm activity and sea level rise) over the near term, mid-century and end-of-century. In addition to a main report and supporting maps, the report includes a "Climate Effects Typology," a large spreadsheet that summarizes information on climate change effects included in relevant studies. A group of climate change experts, including representatives from NOAA, the USGS and the DOE, reviewed the methodology and provided important information for the report. PDF versions of the report and appendices are available on the Resources page of the FHWA Climate Change website.

FHWA Carbon Sequestration Pilot Project Results Posted. FHWA established the Carbon Sequestration Pilot Program (CSPP) in 2008 to assess whether a roadside carbon sequestration effort through modified maintenance and management practices is appropriate and feasible for state Departments of Transportation when balanced against ecological and economic uncertainties. In addition to the Carbon Sequestration Pilot Project report, FHWA has developed a Highway Carbon Sequestration Estimator to help DOTs assess the return on investment for various carbon sequestration scenarios. The decision-support tool allows transportation officials to make estimates based on state-specific considerations. The Estimator tool may be acquired by contacting Carson Poe at

President Calls for a Transformation of USA's Car and Truck Fleet, Truck Fuel Economy Standards. On May 21, President Obama issued a memo to agency heads at DOT, DOE, EPA, and NHTSA on improving energy security, American competitiveness and job security, and environmental protection through transforming our Nation's fleet of cars and trucks. The President called for EPA and NHTSA to create fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles beginning with model year 2014. He called for EPA and NHTSA to also create a national program to improve the fuel efficiency of cars and light-duty trucks. The program would seek to harmonize state and federal standards so that auto makers would be able to create a single light-duty national fleet.

National Academies' Climate Change Reports Released. America's Climate Choices Studies on Advancing the Science of Climate Change, Limiting the Magnitude of Climate Change, and Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change are now available. Advancing the Science of Climate Change includes a chapter on Transportation which calls transportation "a sector with a potentially large role in limiting the magnitude of climate change." It highlights questions decision-makers are asking and includes sections on the role of transportation in driving climate change, strategies to reduce transportation-related GHG emissions, impacts of climate change on transportation, science to support adapting to climate change in the transportation sector, and research needs.

U.S. Department of Commerce Releases Report on CO2 Emissions Over Time by Sector. U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Intensities Over Time: A Detailed Accounting of Industries, Government, and Households. This report looks at the period between 1998 and 2006. In that time, the transportation sector increased emissions by 16.1 percent, the largest proportional increase of any sector. The transportation sector did see efficiency gains of about 0.2 percent per year on average (however emissions efficiency declined on average 0.3 percent per year between 2002 and 2006). Transportation emissions also increased within the household sector. Household emissions from use of light-duty vehicles increased by about 7 percent in the period between 1998 and 2006.


USDOT to Host Webinar on Report to Congress. Wednesday, June 16, from 1:00-2:30 Eastern. You are invited to participate in a webinar on the U.S. Department of Transportation's new report to Congress, "Transportation's Role in Reducing U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions." The report analyzes greenhouse gas emission levels and trends from all modes of transportation in the United States. It then examines the full range of strategies available to reduce transportation GHGs. These strategies include introducing low-carbon fuels, increasing vehicle fuel economy, improving transportation system efficiency, and reducing carbon-intensive travel activity. While the report does not provide recommendations, it does analyze five categories of policy options for implementing the strategies: an economy-wide price signal, efficiency standards, market incentives, transportation planning and investment programs, and research and development. Authors of the report will discuss its key findings, followed by time for questions and discussion. Registration is open at

Welcome Faiz Khan. Faiz Khan has joined FHWA's Sustainable Transport and Climate Change Team. Before joining FHWA, Faiz worked as a planner with the San Francisco city/county government. He will be primarily working on adaptation issues.

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'd like to receive it directly in the future, please send your suggestions or request to Becky Lupes at

FHWA HQ Contacts in the Office of Planning, Environment & Realty:

Office of Natural and Human Environment, Sustainable Transport & Climate Change Team
Dave Carlson, Acting Team Leader
John Davies,
Connie Hill Galloway,
Robert Kafalenos,
Faiz Khan,
Becky Lupes,
Diane Turchetta,

Office of Planning
Robin Smith,

Office of Project Development & Environmental Review
Shari Schaftlein,

Updated: 12/27/2016
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