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Air Quality and Sustainability Highlights

December 2008

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

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Recent Events

FHWA Sponsors Peer Exchange on Adaptation of Transportation Systems to Climate Change.On December 11, FHWA and AASHTO hosted upper-level State DOT and FHWA managers from 11 states for a discussion on activities, plans, issues, and challenges regarding adaptation to climate change. FHWA will use the information and suggestions from the peer exchange to help prioritize information dissemination, technical assistance, and research on climate change adaptation.

National Action Plan Vision for 2025: A Framework for Change. On November 18 the U.S. EPA, U.S. DOE, and more than 50 energy, environmental and state policy leaders released an Action Plan that includes strategies to reduce energy demand by more than 50 percent and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 90 million vehicles. Initiated in 2005, the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency is directed by a leadership group of 30 electric and gas utilities, 20 state agencies, and 12 other organizations. The Action Plan and other documents are available at:

Uncle Sam's Rusty Toolkit.Good Jobs First recently released a report, called Uncle Sam's Rusty Toolkit, about the role that the federal government can play in environmental protection, job creation and overall prosperity through various economic development programs. The report highlights public transportation as a key tool for curbing global climate change while creating new jobs and making it easier to get around. To view the report, see:

VMT & Climate Policy Dialogue.On November 13-14, the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) in Washington, D.C., convened the second meeting of its VMT & Climate Policy Dialogue to develop effective policy packages for reducing transportation greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by slowing VMT growth and increasing system efficiency. Participants included high-level representatives from government, nonprofits and industry. For more information about the CCAP Initiatives, go to:

FHWA Hosts Second Federal Interagency Meeting on Climate Change, Transportation and Land Use.On December 17, FHWA hosted a second meeting with senior representatives from other Federal agencies to discuss coordinated efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from surface transportation. 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, along with representatives from other DOT agencies. The meeting was a follow-up to a meeting held on June 5th, where the agencies' overlapping responsibilities regarding climate change were discussed and an interagency working group was formed to develop recommendations for coordinated activities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the December meeting, the working group presented its recommendations. A decision was made to continue interagency meetings to further develop the recommendations and to devise an action plan to implement them.

State News

California Governor Directs State Agencies to Plan for Sea Level Rise and Climate Impacts.On November 14, California Gov. Schwarzenegger signed an executive order which, among other things, requires an assessment and report on the vulnerability of transportation systems to sea level rise and calls for Caltrans to coordinate an infrastructure adaptation strategy. Executive Order S-13-08 is available at:

California Air Resources Board Approves Climate Change Scoping Plan.On December 11, CARB approved a plan which outlines strategies to reduce the State's greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Climate Change Proposed Scoping Plan: A framework for change, includes several measures related to transportation. For details on the plan, see:

Hawaii Commits to Electric Vehicles.On December 5, Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle announced that the State plans to work with Better Place to install up to 100,000 electric vehicle charging systems throughout the state by 2012. The plan is to build a network of "smart" charging spots. Drivers could plug in anywhere, anytime, and pay for it through a subscription much like a cell phone plan. For more information, see:

A Fare Choice: How Rhode Island Can Invest in Public Transit and Energy Independence. The Rhode Island Sierra Club recently released a report entitled A Fare Choice. The report outlines the cost of the transportation system to the economy and the environment and highlights the best practices around the country that can be readily implemented in Rhode Island. For more information, see:

Smart Transportation Guidebook.The Pennsylvania and New Jersey Departments of Transportation jointly developed this Guidebook that integrates planning and design of the current transportation system while fostering development of sustainable and livable communities. Smart Transportation proposes to better manage capacity by better integration of land use and transportation planning. For more information, see:


New FHWA Sustainable Transport and Climate Change Team.The Office of Planning, Environment & Realty (HEP) has formed a new team on climate change and sustainability. The new team will work on a broad range of issues related to transportation, climate change, and sustainability, and will help coordinate ongoing activities related to climate change and sustainability that are being conducted by other teams in HEP.

8th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference. The theme of this conference, sponsored by the Local Government Commission, is Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century. The three-day, 44-page draft program includes many sessions on sustainable transportation and climate change, including: Growing Cooler: The Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change - One Year Later; How Smart Growth Advocates Can Play a Key Role in Federal Transportation and Climate Change Legislation; Transportation, Climate Change and Land Use; Partnerships to Reduce VMT and Greenhouse Gas Emissions; Infill and Redevelopment; Saving the World Through Zoning; Tools and Strategies for Addressing Climate Change at the Local Level; and Paths to Climate Adaptation. The conference will be held in Albuquerque, NM from January 22-January 24, 2009. For more information, see:


Washington State Department of Transportation Climate Change Weekly Digest. The Washington State DOT has an extensive climate change program and issues a weekly digest on climate change issues. To view their website go to: To be put on the email list to receive the weekly digest, please send a note to:

Annual Transportation Research Board Annual 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 is 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 transportation systems. Two Sunday workshops are intended for those who wish to gain a broad understanding of 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 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:

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