Obama Administration and USDOT Float Bold Idea to Cut Transportation Emissions

Media Contacts

US PIRG Education Fund

Yesterday, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) began seeking public comments on whether states and regional organizations receiving federal dollars should, for the first time, measure how planned projects such as roads and public transit systems would contribute to carbon pollution. At this point, USDOT is only seeking comments, not proposing a rule.

“We applaud the Obama Administration and Secretary Foxx on floating this bold new idea,” said John Olivieri, National Campaign Director for 21st Century Transportation at the U.S Public Interest Research Group. “Many people don’t realize that nearly 30 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector. We can’t afford to continue to build transportation projects without considering what impact those projects will have on public health and on the environment. Yesterday’s action is a step in the right direction, but ultimately we need a strong final rule to protect public health and combat global climate change,” Olivieri added.

A recent study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that transportation sector emissions cause more premature deaths than any other sector, resulting in 53,000 premature deaths each year. A separate study from Duke University and NASA found that we can save 120,000 lives by 2030, and approximately 14,000 lives every year after that, by reducing transportation sector emissions.

Several states and cities—California, Oregon, Massachusetts, Seattle, the Twin Cities, and Chicago—already take carbon pollution into account when developing transportation plans. The USDOT gives transportation projects around the country about $50 billion a year.

“There is no path to successfully combating global climate change that doesn’t involve substantially reducing transportation-related emissions,” Olivieri said.