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Source : Unsplash
December 1, 2023
Author : Alex Bustillos
Climate change signs are all around us, and there is no denying it, from brown haze surrounding your neighborhood to constant coughing and watery eyes. Apart from industries, transportation is one of the key contributors to air pollution.
Last week, the Department of Transportation published an important rule requiring all states to evaluate the amount of greenhouse gas pollution from roadway systems and establish goals to reduce those emissions.
More than 100,000 people have come out supporting this National regulation, which will compile the fragmented and incomplete data on greenhouse gas emissions into a single unified law, enabling local, state, and federal transportation authorities to make well-informed decisions.
This new greenhouse gas regulation is similar to the performance measuring standards for the environment and safety. Each state must establish its own greenhouse gas targets and develop plans for achieving them just like they do with other sectors. Following that, states will report on their advancements regularly, enhancing accountability and transparency.
Currently, only 24 States and the District of Columbia are required by law to track and set goals for transportation-related greenhouse emissions. Unfortunately, most states, including many of our biggest cities, don't even track global warming emissions.
Shruti Vaidyanathan, director of federal transportation at the Natural Resources Defense Council, commented, "With the cost of the climate crisis becoming clearer every day and historic infrastructure funding flowing to states, we need to be sure these new Investments are building a cleaner, more sustainable transportation system."
This new greenhouse gas rule requires tracking GHG emissions. A large number of the raw materials for this already come from the State Department of Transportation and metropolitan planning organizations. All that is left is they need to be combined together. The estimates of greenhouse gas emissions for the 230,000 km of the National Highway System will be derived from monthly fuel sales data from the FUELS/FASH system and vehicle miles traveled data from the Highway Performance Monitoring system.
The US Department of Transportation offers the recommended method for uniformly determining this, allowing for comparison across the Nation.
Targets for carbon emission must be set by state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations, but they must determine how to achieve them. The only prerequisite is that the carbon emission must gradually decrease; however, failure to accomplish the goals will not result in penalties.
States must report every two years on their progress toward achieving two and four-year targets, set targets, and monitor their progress. The first report is due on 1 February 2024. Metropolitan planning organizations must report every four to five years using their current performance measurement process and set four-year targets, with their first targets being set 180 days after their State DOT establishes theirs.
However, some states are already implementing GHG emission best practices, and Colorado tops the list. Colorado DOT in 2021 approved the Greenhouse Gas Transportation Planning Standard. This requires the state's DOT and the five metropolitan organizations to model the impact of GHG emissions.
Minnesota has declared a 20% reduction goal by 2050, and Washington and California have set similar goals.