FHWA Transportation and Climate Change Newsletter – March 2010

April 20, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse

Source: Prepared by the Office of Planning, Environment and Realty  – Federal Highway Administration (www.fhwa.dot.gov/hep/climate)

Recent Events

Obama Administration Officials Release Progress Report on Work of Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. On March 16, the CEQ, NOAA, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy released an interim progress report of the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force.  The report recommends key components to include in a national strategy on climate change adaptation.  It calls for a national adaptation strategy that has a “flexible, forward thinking approach” shifting away from using past conditions to predict the future.  It also calls for adaptation responses to be included in current U.S. government plans, processes and approaches, so that adaptation and resilience approaches become part of existing activities.  Comments on the report are being accepted through May 15.  For full text of the report and to submit a comment, see the Interagency Adaptation Task Force website.

FHWA Posts Study of State Climate Action Plans. This study, completed last summer, reviews progress on state climate action plans in all 50 states.  The report provides a basic summary and analysis of the data gathered on transportation emission reduction strategies. It also assesses the level of certainty in estimates of strategies’ impacts on GHG emissions.  The report, accompanying data spreadsheet, and summary PowerPoint presentation are available on the research page FHWA’s Climate Change Website.

NCHRP Publishes Study on Mechanisms for Integrating Transportation-Related Greenhouse Gas Reductions into Transportation Decision Making. This study provides a factual basis for State DOTs and MPOs to weigh alternatives for managing GHG emissions from transportation.  The report covers five dimensions of GHG management policy: geographic level of implementation, target metric, sources covered, reduction target base, and regulatory nature of target (voluntary or mandatory).  The web-only study is available here.

Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis. The “social cost of carbon” (SCC) is an estimate of the monetized damages associated with an incremental increase in carbon emissions in a given year. It is intended to include (but is not limited to) changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, property damages from increased flood risk, and the value of ecosystem services.  The estimates presented in the report are meant to allow agencies to incorporate the social benefits of reducing CO2 emissions into cost-benefit analyses of regulatory actions that have small, or “marginal,” impacts on cumulative global emissions. The report assists agencies in complying with Executive Order 12866, which requires a cost-benefit analysis of intended regulation. DOT Participated in the interagency process that produced this document.  The report is available here.

State and Local News

Oregon Legislation Calls for a Statewide Transportation Strategy to Achieve Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Goals. On March 18, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed Senate Bill 1059 which calls for the Oregon Transportation Commission in consultation with MPOs, other state agencies, local governments, and other stakeholders to adopt a statewide transportation strategy to reduce GHG emissions. It also calls for the DOT and the Department of Land Conservation and Development to establish guidelines for alternative land use and transportation scenarios that may reduce GHGs.  The legislation also calls for the Department of Land Conservation to establish a light-duty vehicle GHG reduction target in each MPO Region.  Local governments within MPO areas will be required to consider how regional transportation plans could be altered to reduce GHG emission. Full details of the bill are providedhere.

North Carolina Holds Climate Change Adaptation Workshop. On March 2-3, the North Carolina Interagency Leadership Team hosted this workshop on how the state can increase its resilience to projected climate threats.  The workshop was sponsored in part by FHWA and NCDOT.  Presentations and additional information are available here.

Midwest Transportation and Air Quality Summit Conference Proceedings Posted.  On October 27-29, 2009, the Illinois Department of Transportation hosted this summit which included several presentations on climate change.  The proceedings are available here.


2010 TRB Energy and Environment Conference, June 6-9 in Raleigh. This conference serves as a platform to develop better transportation solutions through the integration of diverse environmental and transportation perspectives.  Many conference sessions relating to climate change are planned:

  • Addressing Climate Change Impacts at the Transportation Project Scale
  • Integrating Climate Change Preparedness into State DOT Activities
  • Impact of Climate Policy on Transportation
  • The Global Supply Chain and Green House Gases
  • Adapting Transportation to Climate Change
  • Emerging State Approaches to Regulating Climate Change Impacts of Land Development
  • How to Achieve a Low Carbon Transport System in 2050
  • Multi-Pollutant and Other Co-Benefits of Climate Change Policy
  • Balancing Energy, Security, Carbon Mitigation, and Sustainability
  • Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Freight Transportation

An early registration rate is available until April 30.  Registration, an agenda, and additional conference information is available here.


CEQ Draft NEPA Guidance on Considerations of Effects of Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions – Comments due May 24.  The guidance covers when and how Federal agencies should analyze the environmental impacts of GHG emissions and climate change when they describe the environmental impacts of a proposed action under NEPA.  Text of the draft guidance and a comment submittal form are available here on the CEQ website.

Note: 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 Rebecca.Lupes@dot.gov.

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