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Educating the Public on Climate Change Issues: DOT and MPO Best Practices

2. State Departments of Transportation Efforts

California Department of Transportation

The Climate Action Program

The Climate Action Program at Caltrans is an interdisciplinary effort intended to promote, facilitate, and coordinate implementation of climate change strategies and related activities within the Department and with partner agencies, including the California Environmental Protection Agency, the California Air Resources Board, and the California Energy Commission. The Climate Action Program serves as a resource for technical assistance, training, information exchange, and partnership-building opportunities.

Internal Statewide Teleconferences

Caltrans is providing a series of statewide teleconferences for its 12 District offices to educate staff about climate change and how it is relevant to the work conducted by Caltrans staff. The teleconferences began in April 2009 and are conducted monthly. The goals of the meetings include improving communication between various Caltrans Headquarters (HQ) Divisions and District staff regarding climate change activities. The teleconferences are lead by the HQ Division of Transportation Planning.

The teleconference topics are selected by Caltrans HQ staff and cover climate change subjects that are relevant to Caltrans staff statewide. Prior teleconference topics have included climate change adaptation and mitigation; the development of Caltrans' climate change workplan; pavement technologies to reduce GHG emissions; and updates on climate change legislation within the State and at the Federal level. To date, teleconferences have been well-attended by representatives in Districts throughout the state.

Internal Listserv Dedicated to Climate Change Materials and Updates

Caltrans has established an internal statewide email list that includes operations and management staff that are directly responsible for promoting climate change activities within the agency. Caltrans uses this distribution list to keep staff up-to-date on key climate change issues. Types of information distributed through this email listserv include climate change research and updates distributed by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the U.S. DOT. The listserv has proved to be an effective method for distributing information across headquarters and the agency district offices.

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Iowa Department of Transportation

Transportation and Climate Change Presentation

At the 2008 Midwest Transportation Planning Conference, Nancy Richardson, Iowa DOT Director, presented general facts about climate change impacts on the transportation sector. Transportation planning professionals from across the Midwest participated in the conference to examine transportation issues from a Midwest perspective. Other attendees included urban planners, civil engineers, and agency representatives from the Midwest and Washington, D.C.

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Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and FHWA Kentucky Division Office

2010 Kentucky Climate Change/Livability/Air Quality Conference

On April 13-14, 2010, a Climate Change/Livability/Air Quality conference was held in Florence, Kentucky. The conference was co-hosted by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KTC), the Northern Kentucky Area Development District (RPO) and the Kentucky Division of the Federal Highway Administration.

This conference attracted over 80 participants from Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee. Representatives from federal, state, and local governments, as well as practitioners from private organizations, consultants, and several members of the public attended. Participants included:

The following State and local agencies collaborated on the event to make it a success:

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New York State Department of Transportation

The Climate Change/Energy Efficiency (CC/EE) Initiative

The CC/EE initiative was launched by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) in 2007 with a mission to help the agency and New York State's transportation sector reduce GHG emissions. This initiative includes collaborating with other agencies and departments, including the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; New York State Energy Research and Development Authority; FHWA; MPOs; construction industry groups; and environmental organizations, among others.

NYSDOT has developed six Workgroups to help the CC/EE initiative meet its goals. Workgroup #5, in coordination with the CC/ EE Steering Committee, is charged with developing an internal and external outreach plan. Specific outreach efforts include the following:

"Cleaner than Before" IntraDOT Website

The CC/EE IntraDOT webpage, launched in 2009, provides agency staff with easy access to educational and informative climate change and energy efficiency material. The "Cleaner than Before" tab offers tips for saving energy, news about upcoming events, and information about climate change and energy efficiency initiatives in the US and across New York.

Climate Change Website for the Public

In collaboration with the CC/EE Steering Committee, the Workgroup is helping to create a public webpage to share the agency's goals, performance measures, milestones and accomplishments of the CC/EE initiative. The Office of Communications developed the site and the Office of the Environment provided the content. The public site was launched on Earth Day 2010 and is available here at: The site includes a "Kids Only" tab providing educational materials about climate change and sustainability as well as a summary of NYSDOT's current sustainable activities and achievements.

Earth Day Fair Outreach

The Workgroup also played a significant role in the planning and delivery of the Main Office's Earth Day Fair. Several booths were available for NYSDOT staff to learn about the many ways that agency staff help reduce GHG emissions.

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Oregon Department of Transportation

ODOT Climate Change Technical Advisory Committee

The Technical Advisory Committee is a group of representatives from various departments within ODOT that respond to GHG emission-reduction interest from a variety of Commissions, ODOT staff groups, ODOT specialists, citizens, and public interest groups. Efforts include finalizing the existing "ODOT Efforts on Climate Change" document for executive staff; and a "Guidance for ODOT Project Leaders," a document to aid ODOT project leaders on how projects should address climate change and how to respond to citizen inquiries.

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Efforts on Climate Change Factsheet

This factsheet, dated March 2008, lists the steps the agency must take in order to meet the greenhouse gas reduction goals established by the Governor.

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Briefing Paper: ODOT's Efforts on Climate Change

This paper highlights current climate change efforts being led by the DOT and is intended for both internal parties (managers and staff groups) for different state agencies, as well as the public interested in what the DOT is doing to address climate change.

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Updated: 12/23/2016
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