Analysis concludes that current transportation policy in most US states will likely worsen GHG emission trends in US
14 December 2010
US states are in a unique position to bring down transportation-related GHG emissions, given their primary role in setting statewide transportation policy and directing large amounts of transportation funding. However, most states use few of the available transportation policy tools to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector, and in most cases make decisions that will likely increase emissions, according to a new analysis released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Smart Growth America (SGA).
In the 50-state assessment, no state received a higher grade than “B-,” and most states scored lower than “D,” demonstrating a lack of alignment between transportation and climate policies, according to the analysis. Only three states—California, Maryland, and New Jersey—landed in the top tier of the scoring methodology, and 12 states fell into tier three, the lowest.
The report, “Getting Back on Track: Climate Change and State Transportation Policy,” examined 17 key policy options, and found that, for example, few states bother to adequately assess carbon emissions when deciding whether to allocate more funds to build new highways or maintain existing ones; or how much money it should devote to transit, if any at all. The report found many states miss opportunities to reduce transportation emissions, and, sometimes, likely increase emission rates.
Most states do not make any effort at all to connect transportation policy with climate change and energy goals, and some put in place systems that effectively sabotage these goals. In sum, current transportation policy in most states will likely worsen GHG emission trends in the United States.—“Getting Back on Track: Aligning State Transportation Policy with Climate Change Goals”
While conflicts between GHG reduction goals and transportation policies at the state level will hinder progress toward reducing emissions, aligning these policies will encourage it, the report concluded, stating that all 50 states can take individual action to better align their transportation policies with climate change goals. Suggested strategies to change the trajectory of climate change while improving travel choices for Americans include:
Balancing state transportation investments by using state and federal resources to support robust public transportation service, prioritize highway repair and safety over new capacity, support non-motorized transportation, and ensure state fuel taxes can support all transportation modes.
Efforts should shift from building highway networks to building other forms of transportation that are cleaner, more efficient, and in high demand. This requires policy changes that accommodates all transportation users, including transit riders, cyclists, and pedestrians in rural, suburban, and urban communities. States should seek to bring greater balance to their transportation investment plans. This includes balancing highway maintenance with new capacity investment and highway investments with transit, bicycle, and pedestrian infrastructure investments to ensure high-quality, convenient, well-maintained transportation networks for local, regional, and interstate travel.
Balanced investment is a critical step toward improving the long-term prognosis for taming the transportation sector’s role in climate change, the report says.
Managing traffic through congestion pricing tools and incentivize low-carbon transportation options through comprehensive commuter programs.
Strategies such as tolling, parking cash-out, and demand-based parking fees are suggested ways to signal to drivers through prices the impacts of driving and driving alone. Based on this information, travelers can then make more informed decisions about when and how often to drive. States that promote alternatives to driving alone when commuting provide a service in addition to information about smarter, cleaner travel choices.
Linking transportation and land use in transportation plans, implement smart growth and growth management policies, and promote transit oriented development.
Transportation and land use decisions strongly influence one another. States can only maximize the benefits of transportation decisions with supportive land use policies, the report says. This relationship is essential not only for progress toward climate goals, but also for a generally successful and cost-effective transportation network.
Setting a course to reduce emissions by setting per capita transportation GHG or VMT reduction targets.
This involves reorienting transportation policy principles to allow greater support for cleaner transportation options, understanding how transportation decisions will affect emissions, and setting clear goals to reduce emissions through transportation infrastructure and management policy.
The report also asserts that changes to federal transportation policy are essential, and suggests the following federal policies to strengthen the country’s transportation network and reduce carbon emissions:
- Set specific GHG emissions reduction targets for the transportation sector.
- Establish GHG emission impacts from transportation plans and projects as a criterion for receiving federal aid.
- Update transportation financing and funding formulas to reward reductions in driving, VMT, and fuel consumption, instead of rewarding increases in these areas, as is the current practice.
- Prioritize cleaner transportation modes throughout all programs and policies.
- Dedicate revenue from GHG fees to fund clean transportation investment.
I said here in THIS WEBSITE not too long ago to recirculate co2 expels in making fuels ( like green algae biodiesel and ethanol and fart gas( methane))directly with the co2 expels from big chimney especially like coal and n. gas electric poer stations that feed green algae farming to make fuels out of the co2 instead of releasing it into the air or trading co2 limits permits like they do actually to make some cash with pollution like main goverments have organized it recently. so the fuels is always re-use indifinatly instead of been gone forever. i know this will make the coal sellers go bankrupt and lower the price of electricity for all customer while stopping big polution and also this will stop the need to buy natural gas for natural gas electric stations but as a cheap consumers with electric needs it's a bargain.
This website is a mad scientists website totally incompetant working for goverments, wall street traders.and the major posters are el-crap subsidized bloggers el-cheapo with less scientifics skill then primary schools kids.
Posted by: Gorr | 14 December 2010 at 02:59 PM
Well gee a.b. if you don't like the site then leave.
Posted by: SJC | 14 December 2010 at 04:29 PM
And how does one go about applying for el-crap subsidies.
Posted by: ToppaTom | 14 December 2010 at 05:49 PM
Now a.b. if you could spell and form coherent sentences you might be taken seriously. In the meantime return to your primary school colleagues.
Posted by: Mannstein | 14 December 2010 at 07:32 PM
I find it laughable how the NRDC perpetuates its marxist / socialist viewpoints by conveniently ignoring what is going on in the rest of the world. The crash in the real estate market in 2007 has reduced US emissions, but car sales and industrialization in China and India have increased theirs, so there was a big decrease but emissions are going back up & will surpass what they were then soon...especially when you consider Amazon rainforest deforestation. The NRDC needs to stop b i t c h i n g about America and open offices in China, India and Brazil --- be an advocate for the environment where there are bigger fish to fry.
Posted by: ejj | 14 December 2010 at 08:02 PM
With the final failure at Cancun - the very last nail has been hammered into the climate coffin. It was a nice idea gone wildly wrong, mostly due to unbridled hyperbole and exaggeration. We support the goals of NRDC which now must find a way to fit their goals into the practical politics of the real world.
Where the climate campaign failed the Energy Independence campaign is already winning. Thousands of alternative energy projects are underway paying little more than lip service to climate.
Investors, politicians and voters increasingly understand that fossil fuel is crippling their economies and stifling new manufacturing. They understand that a nation addicted to foreign oil is economically vulnerable and insecure. They know the way out is Energy Independence and they are wising up to the benefits of alternative energy.
Green movements need to face the music and adopt the winning campaign - Energy Independence. The failure at Cancun has buried carbon trading, cap and trade, GHG fears, and rich vs poor posturing. It's over kids. Face it. Accept it. Let's move on to sustainable energy for the planet.
Posted by: Reel$$ | 14 December 2010 at 08:14 PM
especially when you consider Amazon rainforest deforestation
Actually, Brazil seems to have been quite successful in recent years. We'll see if it holds up. We sure could use some good news on that front.
Please keep those declarations of the 'dead climate campaign' coming. A bit louder perhaps. You never know, those CO2 molecules up there might hear it and change their absorption spectrum. I'll make sure you get a Nobel Prize when it happens.
Posted by: Arne | 15 December 2010 at 12:46 AM
marxist / socialist viewpoints
Posted by: SJC | 15 December 2010 at 01:58 AM
Theres nothing wrong with walking & cycling which are both enjoyable activities (unless it rains!), or taking public transport. The problem is that all of them have their rightful place, and even by expanding their potential cars will be needed to fill the hole that's left. Simple as that.
Of course, there is scope to make cars themselves more efficient. EVs are on the horizon, although I'm a bit concerned that their limited range (at the moment) and hence use for short urban journeys will put them in direct competition with public transport.
However, there is also ongoing research on advancing biofuels - cellulistic conversion of biomass, algae, seaweed etc etc, then theres the potential to capture and convert CO2 from major emitters and of course the atmosphere.
Climate change or not, if people are right about peak oil, then its time to ramp up on all fronts. there is not one single panacea. But one of the big things that the US needs is better planning. Unfortunately the millions of square miles of sprawl that has been developed over the last 60 years will be very difficult to reverse.
Its about getting a balanced strategy which most people are happy with, that achieves these goals and ita a case of just getting on with it. Oh and politics just delays it.
Posted by: Scott | 15 December 2010 at 03:22 AM
Okay - the NRDC is not overtly Marxist / Socialist. But to advocate what they're advocating would ultimately require a radical expansion of government and creation / addition of "green police" - like in the Audi commercial. It's easy to come up with idealistic schemes and ideas for the government to do this or that, but enforcement is what no one wants to talk about - and that is where the Marxism & Socialism lie. And what makes me even more suspicious is the blatant omission of the industrialization of China & India and 2000 square miles of deforested Amazon rainforest which used to help in soaking up emissions....what's there now (cattle, agricultural fields) is not nearly as good.
Posted by: ejj | 15 December 2010 at 05:09 AM
as I have said on the WEBSITE and will recirculate.
Car makers are going kicking and screaming into EV's
GM volt that has 2 motors keeping everyone on gas with all the ongoing maintenance costs. EV's last longer and have lower maintence and parts. Until they can engineer some ongoing expense, something that gets you into the shop every 5000 miles. Common with the differnce in price between the volt and the leaf. You think nissan couldnt have added and option for more range.
Posted by: ds | 15 December 2010 at 06:14 AM
Increasing the gas tax by $2 or so would solve every one of those problems. Oh well!
Posted by: richard schumacher | 15 December 2010 at 06:43 AM
increasing the gas tax would kill jobs and make everything expensive from food etc.
causing a big inflation bubble
Posted by: ds | 15 December 2010 at 06:48 AM
"However, most states use few of the available transportation policy tools "
Q. Are they” policies” or “tools” ?
A. Policies - backed by lawyers.
GHG reduction is gaining no traction and is unlikely to do so, regardless of how important and essential it might be. Another inconvenient truth.
Energy independence is the only rational approach. And it is essential to GHG reduction - a necessary precursor.
Energy independence can be achieved and must happen, even though only 2 options may be available on how to achieve it: painfully or catastrophically.
The emphasis on GHG reduction is not working- and most recognize this – except for those who really did learn all they need to know in kindergarten.
The NRDC might not be overtly Marxist/Socialist but many judge it by the company it keeps, the policies it chooses to support (or not support) and how it supports them (“online activists with the courtroom clout and expertise of more than 350 lawyers”).
Posted by: ToppaTom | 15 December 2010 at 06:51 AM
I support incentives for renewables (primarily through tax breaks for renewable energy business, not grants for academia) for energy independence. Energy independence is a major contributing factor to national security. However America could be energy independent & carbon neutral while the BRIC countries put one million cars per month on the road and thousands of additional square miles of rainforest are chopped down. If there is only America-bashing without an admission of what is going on elsewhere & getting them to change, it is useless from an emissions standpoint.
Posted by: ejj | 15 December 2010 at 09:20 AM
A gas tax would be very helpful for reducing oil consumption and thus imports. It would be money staying inside the US instead of flying off to the Middle East.
A gas tax in the past would have helped reduce the consumption rate of US oil, so your supplies would have lasted longer, making your country LESS dependent on foreign oil.
Think about it, a gas tax it not necessarily a bad thing because it sounds like 'tax'.
Posted by: Arne | 15 December 2010 at 09:49 AM
Oh, another thing about the car companies.
EV's last longer and have lower maintence and parts. Until they can engineer some ongoing expense, something that gets you into the shop every 5000 miles. Common with the differnce in price between the volt and the leaf.
Large companies have big power and marketing can do magic, but there are limits. If the public really wants EV's, then it's unstoppable. If GM and the rest won't produce them, Tesla will. If it turns out consumers prefer the vehicles with the longest range, then that's what they will produce. Last time I checked, capitalism was still working. By the way, both Daimler and Toyota are partnering with Tesla.
And going into the shop every 5000 miles? I had a VW Polo ten years ago that only needed service every 30,000 km. What's different in the US?
Posted by: Arne | 15 December 2010 at 10:01 AM
The ultimate dream of the NRDC...the Green Police...
Posted by: ejj | 15 December 2010 at 10:29 AM
As far as marketing GM and the Car companys made everybody think bigger was better TANK SUV were next
new cars in the manual says change the oil every 5k
I dont personally do that i think it is a waste
but it is called making money, maintenance cost over the life of a car is more than the purchase price, plus it gets you back into the dealership.
Daimler and tesla will be selling cars for 80k+ to make up for the long term maintenance, GM, toyota cant do that.
As much as i would like it to be a 28k leaf that gets 200 miles, and last 30 years, that wont happen. Not enough profit in it and after all we can demand it but it they cant do it without losing money they wont do it
Posted by: ds | 15 December 2010 at 11:52 AM
Thanks, Anne, for the comic relief in the CO2 molecules with changeable absorption spectrum. :) The only reason that GW has not been as aggressive as it has been in the last few years is due to a temporary lessening activity of the sun. In the next few years, when the sun's activity will spike again, ouch!!! watch out for the unrelenting heat waves. The atmospheric CO2 level has been climbing by 2 ppm/yr...quite an ominous sign for those who understand real climatic science.
An alternative to driving oneself to work is to participate in computerized cell-phone-and-GPS based car or van pooling, whereby people who go to work in the same direction at the same time can share a van. One van can carry 8-10 passengers while consume only 1.5-2 times the petrol as a car, but more importantly, can remove7-9 cars off the road and greatly help reducing traffic congestion.
One can then keep the car at home in the garage for weekend pleasure drive. This will keep the paint, the engine and the tire like-new years after years...and will make DS happy.
Posted by: Roger Pham | 15 December 2010 at 02:12 PM
GHG and fossil fuel consumption are linked. If we reduce fossil fuel consumption we reduce GHG...a two fer.
Posted by: SJC | 15 December 2010 at 03:07 PM
Great discussion. There are many reasons of why we (have to) travel and although it might be very bad from an environmental perspective, I guess it's all about affordability and availability of alternative solutions?
I am currently doing my PhD on the topic of travelling and climate change and I am still looking for travellers' or consumers' thoughts and opinions on this topic. If you love travelling, please answer some of my questions. Whether you believe in man-made climate change or not, would be great if you have a few minutes to answer my nine questions. Each participant will enter a prize-draw! Have a look at my website http://www.researchlounge.net/invitation/
Posted by: U Kachel | 15 December 2010 at 04:14 PM
Anne: You never know, those CO2 molecules up there might hear it and change their absorption spectrum. I'll make sure you get a Nobel Prize when it happens.
Thanks for the generous offer. However you should be equally worried about other nefarious gases such as, CH4, N2O, CCl2F2, CHClF2, CF4, SF6 whose spectral absorption is from 21 to 23,000 times that of CO2. And do not forget the most heinous of GHG, WATER VAPOR, acknowledged by grounded men of science as responsible for 95% of the "greenhouse effect." That's H2O. Eeeek!
Posted by: Reel$$ | 15 December 2010 at 08:39 PM
Posted by: ai_vin | 16 December 2010 at 09:12 AM
Most other GHG's are also being regulated as well. The most significant and steadily increasing by far is CO2.
H20 has always been with us for billions of years, and the atmosphere can hold only so much H2O...more H2O vapor, and we will have precipitation!!! aka rain or snow!!! No need to worry about regulating H2O vapor...it will regulate itself. We need the GHG effect of H2O, or else, the earth will be freezing like Mars.
Posted by: Roger Pham | 16 December 2010 at 04:45 PM