Statement from the Georgetown Climate Center on FHWA's Proposed GHG Performance Measure

July 7, 2022

This morning, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, released a proposed rule to guide states and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) in measuring and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from federal highways. By establishing this GHG performance measure, FHWA is taking an important step to assess and help the public better understand ways that federal and state investments in transportation are creating benefits for the American people. 

“With historic federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, states and the federal government have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a more resilient, equitable, and less polluting transportation system,” said Kate Zyla, Executive Director of Georgetown Climate Center. “This new proposed rule to measure transportation emissions will help policymakers and the public understand and evaluate the impact of transportation investments, and will help transportation planners choose projects that are in line with established climate goals.”

The proposed GHG performance measure is part of the existing Transportation Performance Management program, the federal government’s framework to support strategic transportation investments by requiring states to set targets and measure road safety, highway congestion and air pollution, among other goals. The proposed GHG performance measure would establish a new requirement for states and MPOs to set declining targets for – and track and report – on-road emissions on the National Highway System. State departments of transportation and MPOs are well positioned to track GHG pollution from highways and to establish performance targets as benchmarks for future investments in lower-carbon, cleaner transportation projects. Several states, including Colorado and California, already consider GHG emissions when conducting transportation planning and evaluating the performance of their transportation systems. 

Meeting the climate commitments set by the U.S. government and states across the country will require substantial cuts in pollution from transportation, the largest source of GHG emissions in the United States. 

In December, GCC published an analysis finding that a range of transportation emissions outcomes are possible in the coming years, depending on how states choose to spend federal dollars in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.  Along with other concerted efforts by state and federal agencies, this proposed rule, once finalized, would help to increase the likelihood of achieving the lower-emissions scenario.   

The public comment period for this proposed rule will last for 90 days after it is published in the Federal Register. GCC looks forward to ensuring the final rule is informed by state experience and to working with states and federal agencies on the implementation of this new performance measure.