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Celebrating Five Years of Success Through the Transportation and Climate Initiative

 

Five years ago, 11 northeast and mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia launched the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) to develop the clean energy economy and reduce energy use and emissions from the transportation sector.

The initiative is facilitated by the Georgetown Climate Center and led by state transportation, environment, and energy officials in TCI jurisdictions, who gathered this week to celebrate the Initiative’s success during the Northeast Association of State Transportation Officials conference in Wilmington, Delaware.

So far, TCI has already resulted in the following accomplishments:

  • Launched the Northeast Electric Vehicle Network.
    • Public electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in the region have grown by 190% in the past three years, with more than 1,700 public stations now available.
    • The number of EVs in the region have also increased 30-fold. 
    • With the help of a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, TCI worked with 16 Clean Cities Coalitions to produce and distribute 14 documents to help northeast communities become more EV ready.
    • We have continued to develop legal and policy reports to support the deployment of EVs throughout the region, including a recent assessment of potential sources of funds for state EV programs and best practices of state programs.
  • Helped end the threat of lawsuits facing public agencies that used real-time travel information to inform commuters about their next bus or train.
    • Through the Georgetown Climate Center, TCI coordinated resources and brought together groups like American Public Transit Association and the federal DOT, resulting in a legal settlement by Arrival Star, which agreed to stop suing public transit agencies over the rights to this critical information.
  •  Supported the development of sustainable communities.
    • The Georgetown Climate Center produced a detailed summary of actions TCI jurisdictions are taking to achieve sustainable community outcomes, how their legal frameworks govern land use and transportation policies, and notable programs and policies to help states learn from each other.
    • With support from Rutgers University, TCI also produced scoping papers to help states assess their progress in developing sustainable communities, including papers on the health benefits of transportation emission reductions, accessibility to transit and amenities, and travel mode share.
  • Conducted research to better understand freight flows in the region and set the stage for additional work on reducing carbon pollution from goods movement.
     
  • Following a request by TCI leadership to consider developing a regional goal to reduce carbon pollution and increase the use of clean energy in the transportation sector, the Georgetown Climate Center and Cambridge Systematics have prepared an analysis exploring the potential for regional action to achieve such a goal.  The analysis is anticipated to be released in late summer.

During the discussion in Wilmington, James Redeker, the Connecticut Commissioner of Transportation, stressed the important role TCI has played in recent years. "TCI has evidenced the benefits of regional collaboration, providing important continuity and resources to the states' work to address climate change in the transportation sector," he said.

Sue Minter, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Transportation, also discussed how TCI and the Georgetown Climate Center provided important support to her state in the wake of Hurricane Irene and in Vermont's engagement in President Barack Obama's State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force On Climate Preparedness and Resilience.

Work of the Transportation and Climate Initiative is made possible with foundation support, including support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, John Merck Fund, Barr Foundation, Oak Foundation, Surdna Foundation, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, New York Community Trust, and Town Creek Foundation.

Oregon Gov. Brown Signs Bill to Advance State’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard

 

On March 12, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 324, which extends and advances the state’s low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) for transportation fuels. The low carbon fuel standard will require a 10 percent reduction in the carbon content of fuel by 2025 (from a 2010 baseline), with reductions beginning in 2016. Gov. Brown emphasized the importance of the bill by stating that Oregon already has begun to experience the impacts of climate change and that it is crucial the state “does its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Approximately one third of Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector.

The Oregon legislature first authorized the state Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) to establish an LCFS in a 2009 bill (H.B. 2186).  The EQC promulgated initial recordkeeping and reporting requirements for regulated entities in 2012, and in January 2015 voted to implement the LCFS. Additional legislative action was required, however, because reductions under the program were not scheduled to begin until 2016, and the authorization for the LCFS under H.B. 2186 was scheduled to phase out on December 31, 2015.  The new bill signed by Gov. Brown removes this sunset clause, thereby allowing the EQC to move forward with the implementation of the LCFS.

S.B. 324 instructs the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission to adopt a low carbon fuel standard for gasoline and diesel fuel and substitutes. The LCFS will exempt importers of less than 500,000 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel in a year, as well as fuel for farm vehicles, watercraft, and railroad locomotives. S.B. 324 addresses cost concerns by instructing the EQC to promulgate rules for managing compliance costs, such as establishing a low carbon fuel credit trading system.

Oregon will become the second state to establish a low carbon fuel standard, following California, whose LCFS went into effect in 2010. California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols praised the Oregon program as a bold commitment by “one more sub-national government to take the lead in the fight to curb climate change.”

Oregon Gov. Brown characterized the LCFS as part of an important regional climate mitigation initiative, stating that the clean fuels programs of Oregon, California, Washington, and British Columbia “will shape the West Coast market.” In addition to the California LCFS, British Columbia passed a clean fuel standard in 2008, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this year instructed the Washington Department of Ecology to draft a rule to implement a clean fuel standard.

S.B. 324 passed the Oregon house and senate despite significant opposition from state Republicans in both chambers.  After passing the state senate on February 17 along mostly partisan lines, the bill passed the Oregon House of Representatives on March 4 by a one-vote margin.

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.

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.

Case Studies of Transportation Resilience

“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.

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