Obama Administration Issues New Rule Requiring States to Plan for the Impacts of Climate Change on Transportation Assets

Media Contacts

Rule Highlights Need for States to Track, Measure, and Reduce GHG Emissions in Long-term Transportation Plans


Earlier this week, the Obama administration issued the first in a series of three performance management measures designed to improve the nation’s transportation infrastructure system as required under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). The new rule governs how states should evaluate their existing transportation assets, and requires that states generate asset management plans that account for the impacts of climate change as a condition of receiving federal highway money. 

 “This new rule highlights a growing recognition from federal decision makers that we must begin taking climate concerns more seriously in our transportation planning process,” said John Olivieri, National Campaign Director for 21st Century Transportation at the United States Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG). “Climate change and resulting severe weather events degrade our roads and bridges, increasing maintenance and repair costs while jeopardizing safety. It’s long past time states started formally considering how climate change will impact our existing infrastructure,” he added.

The new rule comes as the Obama Administration is weighing whether to move forward with a proposal that would require localities to track, measure, and take steps to reduce carbon emissions as part of their long-term transportation plans. The Department of Transportation has floated the idea of including such a measure in a forthcoming rule on Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement, likely due out near the end of the year. The U.S. Department of Transportation received calls to move forward with the proposal from more than 80,000 individuals, 66 mayors, 9 state DOTs, and other city transportation officials during the open public comment period, which ended in late August.

 “In order for states to adequately account for future environmental conditions, knowing what the greenhouse gas levels are, and will be, would a vital piece of information for state DOTs to measure,” said Olivieri. “This new rule clearly shows the need for further climate planning and evaluation in the transportation system,” he added.

More information on how our nation’s current federal and state transportation policies set us back in the fight against climate change can be found in the Frontier Group report, “50 Steps Toward Carbon-Free Transportation: Rethinking U.S Transportation Policy to Fight Global Warming.”

 More information on our nation’s skewed transportation spending priorities can be found in the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group report, “Highway Boondoggles: Wasted Money and America’s Transportation Future.”

 More information on the real cost building and maintaining our nation’s road system can be found in the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group report, “Who Pays for Roads: How the “Users Pay” Myth Gets in the Way of Solving America’s Transportation Problems.”