It’s going to be a tough sell for those who claim that greenhouse gas performance measures for transportation can’t possibly work, when plenty of transportation agencies say it would be no problem.
That’s according to transportation officials in several regions across America who responded to a survey commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The responses were shared with the Federal Highway Administration as it considers implementing a rule for transportation agencies to measure their climate impact.
Even in cities and regions where climate change is nowhere near the top of the policy agenda, planners and decision-makers still recognize greenhouse gas reductions as a desirable outcome of some of the things their constituents want most — like walkable, bikeable neighborhoods and a break from endless roadway congestion that takes time out of their day while triggering respiratory disease and contributing to hundreds of premature deaths per year.
Some legislators are still debating the urgency of reducing carbon emissions from transportation, and the powerful benefits of doing so. Recently, Senate Energy and Public Works Chair James Inhofe (R-OK) maintained FHWA has no mandate to measure greenhouse gases.
But the issue is already settled for many metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), for reasons that usually include but often go far beyond the need for local solutions to global climate change. The survey of 10 agencies in eight states found that most support greenhouse gas reductions as a legitimate policy priority that meshes well with their responsibilities.