U.S. DOT Wants States to Disclose Climate Impact of Transportation Projects

The Obama administration wants state DOTs to report on the climate impact of their transportation policies, reports Michael Grunwald at Politico, and the road lobby is dead set against it.

Dallas' "High Five" Interchange. Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

As part of the implementation of the MAP-21 federal transportation bill, U.S. DOT officials are preparing a new rule that would require states to set goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and report their progress, according to Grunwald.

It’s the same idea behind similar rules requiring states to track progress on traffic congestion and walk/bike safety. No penalty would apply to states that fail to attain their goals, but the rule would increase transparency and enable advocates to hold transportation agencies accountable for their climate performance.

The road building lobby appears to hate the idea. From Grunwald’s piece:

Nick Goldstein, vice president for regulatory affairs with the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, warned that a mandate for agencies to set climate targets could be used as a pretext to discourage highway construction at a time when America desperately needs better infrastructure. He suggested the Obama administration has embraced an anti-asphalt mentality.

The draft rule has yet to be released by U.S. DOT. Once that happens, it will be subject to a period of public comment, and that feedback could shape the final form of the rule.

The climate rule is definitely one to keep an eye on. We’ll post more details as they become available.

  • I hate this argument, better infrastructure != more roads.

  • Orcutt

    This would be fun to watch, given how L.A. and San Diego are actively trying to weasel out of their state transpo/climate requirements now

  • Kevin Love

    From the linked article:

    “Nick Goldstein, vice president for regulatory affairs with the American Road and Transportation Builders Association…suggested the Obama administration has embraced an anti-asphalt mentality that assumes new roads produce demand for more cars and exurban development, when Goldstein believes they merely accommodate existing demand.”

    Kevin’s comment:
    Really, seriously? I’ve met some bare-faced liars in my life, but this is a level of chutzpah that is almost entertaining if the consequences were not so tragic.

  • Elias Zamaria

    “Nick Goldstein, vice president for regulatory affairs with the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, warned that a mandate for agencies to set climate targets could be used as a pretext to discourage highway construction at a time when America desperately needs better infrastructure.”

    So… we can barely afford to maintain the roads we have now, and that is supposed to be an argument for building more roads? The Obama administration doesn’t need to mention climate change as an argument to discourage road construction. It would probably be better to mention the hard fact that with our finite budget, more resources building new roads will probably mean less left over to maintain our existing roads. “Better infrastructure” is not necessarily the same thing as “more infrastructure”.

    And it is an overstatement to say that encouraging states to reduce greenhouse gases, without mentioning any specific approach or imposing any penalties for failing to do so, is an “anti-asphalt mentality”, although I don’t see why that would be a bad thing for someone who is not a road construction lobbyist.

    But who am I to point out these fallacies? I am unsure if anything I do will have any effect.

  • Elias Zamaria

    I agree. Considering Poe’s Law (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law), it is hard to tell for sure if anyone really means or believes what they say.

  • Joe R.

    Correction—we can’t afford to maintain the roads we have now. The poor state of repair of a large percentage of roads is proof of that. We need to do exactly the opposite of what we’re doing. Let’s perform triage. Roads which are redundant, or which serve things like exurban housing tracts, should be left to return to nature.

  • ecycled

    Elias. Poe’s Law Wiki link seemed to have had issues. Reposting here:
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law

  • Chicagoan

    Does the American Road and Transportation Builders Association support the construction of anything but roads?

  • Elias Zamaria

    Oops. I fixed my post.

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