WASHINGTON (August 23, 2016) –More than 80,000 Americans joined dozens of mayors, business leaders, environmental and consumer groups, and state and city transportation officials in calling on the Obama administration to reduce carbon pollution from the nation’s transportation system and promote cleaner and smarter transportation options that combat climate change.
National environmental and consumer advocacy groups delivered the tens of thousands of comments late last week to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. They urge the secretary to move ahead with new performance standards under consideration that could curb climate change and modernize the nation’s transportation systems.
The department’s standards could require state and city transportation planners to start tracking and finding ways to reduce the carbon pollution from their proposed transportation plans. Those plans span 20 years or more and describe investment portfolios for transportation projects, including maintenance, repair, and construction of roads, commuter rail lines, bus service lines, bike lanes, and sidewalks.
The public comment period on that proposal ended August 20. In addition to the more than 80,000 public comments, at least 100 cities; at least nine state transportation departments; state clean air agencies; dozens of business organizations such as Facebook, Apple and Environmental Entrepreneurs; and 48 environmental and transportation-focused groups have spoken out for the clean transportation standard.
The transportation and power sectors are the two largest sources of climate-changing carbon pollution in the U.S.
“The administration has a golden opportunity to clean up transportation and curb climate change. Cutting harmful transportation carbon pollution while creating smarter travel options that improve our health, neighborhoods and cities—that’s an opportunity not to be missed,” said Deron Lovaas, senior policy adviser in NRDC’s Urban Solutions program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, which helped collect the citizen petitions with Environment America, and the United States Public Interest Research Group. “It’s also good news that Americans are strongly behind a new clean transportation standard that starts us down that road.”
John Olivieri, National Campaign Director for 21st Century Transportation at the United States Public Interest Research Group said, “Today, more than 80,000 Americans made their voice heard and demanded cleaner and healthier transportation options. This is an historic moment. We sincerely hope that the Department of Transportation will now take action to clean up our nation’s transportation system. The health of our citizens and the health of our planet are at stake.”
Aminah Zaghab, Global Warming Solutions advocate with Environment America, said: “Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, global warming pollution from power plants is on the decline. To seal his climate legacy, the president should do all he can to cut transportation pollution, too — and that means requiring all levels of government, state and city, to do their part.”
The public comments support the Department of Transportation issuing a final standard this year under a 2012 transportation law. The standard could require about 400 state and municipal transportation agencies nationwide to start tracking, measuring, and reducing carbon pollution from all transportation projects as part of their long-term plans. Currently, state and local agencies factor in such issues as safety for road, bridge and transportation system projects, but not carbon pollution.
A recent Hart Research poll found strong support for the idea. Seventy-eight percent of Americans agree that “state transportation agencies should take vehicle-related carbon pollution and climate change into account when developing transportation plans, and also seek ways to reduce that pollution.” This view is held by 92 percent of Democrats, 79 percent of Independents, and 64 percent of Republicans.
“Pollution from transportation is too often seen as an intractable problem,” said Zaghab. “But by encouraging cleaner cars, smart development, and multiple ways for Americans to move around, this standard can make transportation part of the solution when it comes to climate change.”
More from the poll is here: https://www.nrdc.org/media/2016/160804-0
The citizens’ petitions supporting a clean transportation standard are here: https://www.regulations.gov/docketBrowser?rpp=25&so=DESC&sb=commentDueDate&po=0&dct=PS&D=FHWA-2013-0054
A letter that mayors sent to Foxx supporting the standard is here:http://www.uspirg.org/results/usp/60-mayors-sign-letter-us-dot-urging-action-reduce-carbon-emissions-transportation
A letter from nine supportive state departments of transportation is here:
A number of metropolitan planning agencies also back the rule including these: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FHWA-2013-0054-8081
A business group letter backing the standard is here:https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FHWA-2013-0054-7986
A letter from four dozen environmental and consumer groups in support is here: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FHWA-2013-0054-8182