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Transportation plans to require consideration of climate change

 

On February 20, 2015,  the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM)  that would establish a process for state departments of transportation (state DOTs) to include consideration of climate change and extreme weather-related risks in the development of asset management plans, which are required under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). 

MAP-21 amended the Federal-Aid Highway Program to encourage more efficient expenditure of federal transportation dollars with “performance-based” asset management requirements. Section 1106 of MAP-21, called on state DOTs to develop risk-based asset management plans that lay out a strategy by which the state can meet asset condition and performance targets.  Asset management plans are designed to help state DOTs identify the best investment options for managing assets in light of critical risks, to achieve and sustain a state of good repair over the lifecycle of the asset.

FHWA’s notice of proposed rulemaking lays out the requirements by which states must implement MAP-21’s mandate for risk-based asset management. Under the proposed rule, state DOTs would be required to establish a management plan that identifies risks to assets and the highway system, including those associated with current and future conditions such as extreme weather events and climate change.  The risk analysis would need to account for roads and bridges that have required repeated repair or reconstruction as a result of emergencies.  State DOTs would be required to identify high priority assets and develop a plan to address and monitor risks to those assets. The proposed rule is designed to ensure that state transportation asset management plans are truly risk-based, as required by MAP-21, by ensuring that states have the information required to minimize impacts and increase asset and system resiliency.

The rule also proposes to require state DOTs to establish a process for conducting life-cycle cost analysis for classes of assets that considers information on current and future conditions including extreme weather events and climate change. State DOTs would then be required to consider life-cycle cost and risk analyses in developing investment strategies to manage state transportation assets. States would have to document these and other required processes within their asset management plan, which must be certified by FHWA. These plans must address physical assets (highway pavements and bridges) that are part of the National Highway System, although FHWA encourages states to include other public roads in their plans as well.

The proposed rule was issued on February 20, 2015, and is open for comment until April 21, 2015. State DOTs must submit their state-approved asset management plans to FHWA for certification within one year of the effective date of the final rule, unless they opt for a phase-in option provided for in the proposed rule.

100 New Case Studies Show How Communities Are Preparing Our Roads, Airports, and Transit Systems for Climate Change

 

One hundred case studies released today by the Georgetown Climate Center demonstrate how leaders are responding to the growing threats that climate change impacts pose to America’s roads, airports, transit systems, and infrastructure.

The case studies highlight some of the most innovative approaches being adopted around the country for considering climate change at all stages of decision-making: planning, design, construction, and operations and maintenance.

Case Studies of Transportation Resilience

Every year, taxpayers pay hundreds of billions of dollars for transportation and related infrastructure—infrastructure that is becoming increasingly vulnerable to flooding and damage from extreme heat as a result of climate change.

“Putting more time and forethought into our transportation planning to prepare for climate change would save taxpayer dollars by avoiding the need to repeatedly rebuild the same infrastructure after extreme weather events,” said Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center. “These case studies highlight some of the most innovative activities that are happening in the transportation sector to prepare for changes we are already experiencing, including more extreme weather and rising seas.”

The case studies can help transportation officials develop best practices for preparing transportation infrastructure for climate change and help ensure the long-term sustainability of our transportation system.  The examples are also in line with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s recommendations for building a more resilient transportation system, as outlined in the new “Beyond Traffic” report that was released earlier this month by Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Below are a few examples of some of the activities underway across the country:

  • New Jersey and the US Department of Energy are designing an electrical microgrid that will help supply reliable power to the NJ Transit system’s facilities and rail lines, including critical evacuation routes, in the face of future extreme weather events.
  • The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey renovated a runway at JFK Airport using light concrete pavement instead of asphalt, which will help mitigate the urban heat island effect and significantly increase the life expectancy of the runway. The renovations also included a stormwater trench that will reduce the risk of overloading the airport’s storm sewer system during storm events.
  • The Alaska Department of Transportation has reconstructed some portions of roadway in the northern regions of the state using insulation, which may help prevent thawing of underlying permafrost (and resulting roadway instability) under future scenarios with higher temperatures.
  • The Chicago Department of Transportation is using permeable pavements and other green infrastructure elements in its Pilsen Sustainable Streets project to help reduce the urban heat island effect, manage stormwater runoff, and reduce flooding under current and future increases in temperature and precipitation.

The case studies were developed by the Georgetown Climate Center as part of a cooperative agreement with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

 

Governor Inslee Proposes Package to Cut Emissions in Washington State

 

On December 17, 2014, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced a package of actions that Washington State can take to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, including measures that will set an annual limit on the total amount of carbon pollution that emitters may release into the air.

The Governor will propose the Carbon Pollution Accountability Act in the upcoming legislative session, which would require polluters to pay for their carbon pollution by requiring them to purchase allowances at auctions for their emissions. The emissions would be capped, and that cap would be ramped down by two percent annually by reducing the number of allowances available. The program is expected to generate about $1 billion annually, which will be used for transportation, education, and disadvantaged communities.

The Governor’s package includes a series of other proposals designed to decrease greenhouse gas emission in the state. These include:

  • Supporting plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) adoption by extending sales-tax exemptions for alternative fuel vehicles, creating a PEV infrastructure bank for the installation of fast chargers, requiring urban areas to adopt incentive programs for encouraging PEV-friendly construction, and asking the Department of Ecology to seek legislation allowing the state to adopt a zero-emission vehicle program;
  • Instructing the Washington Department of Ecology to draft a clean-fuel standard;
  • Conducting more comprehensive land use and transportation planning to reduce carbon emissions;
  • Establishing a $60 million Clean Energy Fund to aid research institutions, utilities, and businesses to deploy new renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions;
  • Drafting new legislation to better incentivize solar energy and other energy efficiency measures;
  • And providing additional funding for mass transit using revenue from the proceeds of the proposed allowance sales.

The proposals are based on work conducted under the Governor’s Executive Order 14-04, and are intended to help the state meet the statutory greenhouse gas limit adopted by the state legislature in 2008.

United States Reaches Historic Settlement with Hyundai and Kia

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice announced a historic settlement with Hyundai and Kia on November 3, 2014 that will resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations by the automakers. The United States and the California Air Resources Board filed suit against Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motor Company (the Defendants) under Title II of the Clean Air Act for misrepresenting vehicle fuel efficiency standards and improperly claiming over four million greenhouse gas credits under EPA’s averaging, banking and trading program. The settlement described in the proposed consent decree would require the Defendants to pay a civil penalty of $100 million, take steps to prevent future violations, and forfeit 4.75 million greenhouse gas credits that were wrongfully claimed by the Defendants. The proposed $100 million civil penalty would be the largest in Clean Air Act history.

On December 8, the Georgetown Climate Center, in its role as facilitator of the Transportation and Climate Initiative, submitted comments on the proposed consent decree, recommending that the United States revise the settlement to require the Defendants to direct funds to state projects and programs that have demonstrated success in reducing transportation-sector emissions, with a particular focus on programs that support electric vehicles, and reduce the penalty commensurately. A copy of Georgetown Climate Center’s comments can be found here.

White House Announced New Commitments to Support Electric Vehicles

 

On November 18, the White House and the Edison Electric Institute announced new commitments made by electric utilities and other organizations to support the deployment of electric vehicles nationwide. 70 utilities committed to spend at least 5% of their annual fleet acquisition budgets on purchasing electric vehicles, and over 60 new businesses, schools and nonprofit organizations committed to install workplace charging stations for their employees. In addition, the White House announced that it intends to provide funding to help organizations coordinate their efforts to aggregate purchases of electric vehicles, in an effort to lower the price of alternative fuel vehicles through bulk orders.

These collective actions are in support of the Obama Administration’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge. The goal of the challenge is for the U.S. to become the first nation in the world to produce electric vehicles that are as affordable for the average American consumer as gasoline powered vehicles.

Eight States Release Action Plan to put 3.3 Million Zero Emission Vehicles on the Road

 

On May 29, eight states released an action plan to develop infrastructure, coordinate policies, codes and standards, and help develop a consumer market to put 3.3 million zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) on the road by 2025.

The “Multi-State ZEV Action Plan” provides an overview of the current state of the market and identifies 11 key actions that can be taken by all of the partners to promote ZEV deployment. These actions include: promote the availability and effective marketing of ZEVs; provide consumer incentives to enhance the ZEV ownership experience; lead by example through increasing ZEVs in state, municipal and other public fleets; encourage private fleets to purchase, lease or rent ZEVs; promote workplace charging; promote ZEV infrastructure planning and investment by public and private entities; provide clear and accurate signage to direct ZEV users to charging and fueling stations and parking; remove barriers to ZEV charging and fueling station installations; promote access, compatibility, and interoperability of the plug-in electric vehicle charging network; remove barriers to retail sale of electricity and hydrogen as transportation fuels and promote competitive plug-in electric vehicle charging rates; and track and report progress toward meeting the goal of 3.3 million ZEVs on our roadways by 2025.

Governors from California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont signed a zero-emission vehicle  memorandum of understanding in October 2013 that set the ambitious EV deployment goal, and the action plan is the first major milestone from the eight-state collaboration.

Additional information on the Multi-State ZEV Action Plan and the State Zero-Emission Vehicle Programs Memorandum of Understanding can be found here.

Governors from Eight States Pledge to put 3.3 Million Zero-Emission Vehicles on the Road by 2025

 

Governors from eight states signed an agreement October 24 to build a strong national market for zero-emission vehicles.

Collectively, these states – California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont – represent almost a quarter of the nation's automobile market. The states intend to build consumer demand, which will lower zero emission vehicle (ZEV) costs through economies of scale and expand the range of product lines available to consumers throughout the U.S.

The eight states have pledged to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025.  The memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlines joint and individual actions that states will take to reach their goal.

These actions include establishing ZEV purchase targets for government fleets; coordinating vehicle and fueling station equipment procurement within and across states; evaluating and establishing, where appropriate, financial and other incentives to promote zero emission vehicles; developing common standards for roadway signs and charging networks; promoting electric vehicle readiness through consistent building codes and other standards; considering establishing favorable electricity rates for home charging; and continuing to work with the public and private sector to raise consumer awareness and encourage ZEV market growth.

Signatory states will create and participate in a multi-state ZEV Program Implementation Task Force that will serve as a forum for coordination and collaboration on the full range of program support and implementation issues to promote effective and efficient implementation of ZEV regulations. Over the next six months, the states will develop an action plan that will include the above strategies and others.

Six of the eight states - Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont - already participate in the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) and its Northeast Electric Vehicle Network. The agreement recognizes the TCI for its work on electric vehicles, and the importance of the group's work moving forward. Northeastern states will seek to build on the regional collaboration in order to meet the target of 3.3 million zero emission vehicles on the road by 2025.

States that have signed the MOU are part of a larger group of states that have adopted California’s Zero Emission Vehicle Program under Section 177 of the Clean Air Act. States that have adopted California’s ZEV program will require 15.4 percent of new vehicles sold within their state to be zero-emission vehicles by 2025.  The MOU is designed to support and ensure the successful implementation of individual states’ ZEV programs.

New England Governors and Canadian Premiers Pledge to Cooperate on Alternative Fuel Vehicle Efforts

 

New England governors and eastern Canadian premiers reached a new agreement September 9 to work cooperatively to support increased use of alternative fuel vehicles and networks within the region.

The group passed a resolution at its annual meeting that directs the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers (NEG-ECP) to work with organizations to compile an inventory of regional initiatives regarding electric and natural-gas-powered vehicles, propose actions aimed at facilitating the interoperability of electric vehicle charging and alternative fueling stations, and identify corridors where alternative fuel infrastructure could be established.

A related transportation resolution was also passed that directs NEG-ECP and its partners to work collaboratively towards achieving a regional five percent market share among vehicle fleets for alternative fuel vehicles by 2020 and to facilitate the availability of refueling stations to support those vehicles.

These measures were part of a series of resolutions adopted by the governors and premiers in which they pledged to work together on clean energy approaches such as hydropower, mitigating climate change, and transportation proposals.

The governors of the six New England states and five Canadian Premiers meet annually to discuss how they can work more efficiently on a regional basis. The New England states are Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, and the participating provinces are Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The next NEG-ECP meeting will be held in New Hampshire in 2014.

Hawaii Launches EV Stations Mobile App

 

The State of Hawaii launched a mobile app on July 12 that will help electric vehicle (EV) owners locate publicly available EV charging stations statewide. The app, “EV Stations Hawaii,” provides drivers with EV charging station locations and mapping directions, and allows users to search for EV stations across Hawaii or for EV stations closest to their current location.

The app is being managed by the Hawaii State Energy Office, and utilizes the office’s database of publicly available EV charging stations. The app is a partnership between the state’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, Hawaii Information Consortium and Honolulu Clean Cities, and is part of the State Office of Information Management and Technology’s open data movement.

The app is free for download and is available for Apple and Android smartphones and mobile devises. To download the app, visit the Hawaii State Energy Office website here.

Connecticut Launches Electric Vehicle Charging Initiative

 

Connecticut launched an electric vehicle charging initiative on July 9 that will more than double the amount of charging stations available in the state by the end of 2013. The initiative is part of “EVConnecticut,” a program that seeks to support the integration of EVs into the market by expanding the availability of EV charging stations and providing resources for EV owners.

The charging station program was launched by Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Department of Transportation, and will provide $200,000 in funding for the installation of EV charging stations. Funding will be awarded to proposals that offer the most matching funding from the project host site and are most accessible to the general public, and that place stations in areas that are geographically diverse. Municipalities and private businesses throughout the state are encouraged to apply.

For more information about EV programs and resources in Connecticut, click here.

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