Environmental News Highlights – February 17, 2021


‘On Time with Tymon’ Provides Preview of AASHTO’s Washington Briefing – AASHTO Journal

House T&I Approves $42.5B in Further COVID-19 Relief – AASHTO Journal

E-BIKE Act Offers Tax Credit for Electric Bicycles – AASHTO Journal

House Panel to Include Climate Policy in Infrastructure Bill, Pallone Says – Transport Topics

Biden meets with bipartisan senators to discuss potential infrastructure bill – The Hill

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $180 Million Funding Opportunity for Low or No Emission Transit Vehicles & Facilities – FTA (News release)


House T&I Hearing on ‘Lessons Learned’ from COVID-19 – AASHTO Journal

Kentucky Transportation Secretary Jim Gray testifies to Senate committee about state vaccine program – WBKO-TV

COVID-19 pandemic takes toll on Wisconsin transportation fund revenues – Wisconsin State Journal

The FAA Announces Season 2 of Its Podcast The Air Up There! – FAA (Press release)


As more cars go electric, Missouri’s fleet remains exclusively gas-powered – St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Three Approaches to Investing in Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure – Resources

Long-range infrastructure master plan moves closer to reality – Arizona Daily Star

Utah lawmakers face ‘mind boggling’ $1.1 billion in infrastructure requests – Deseret News

Momentum is growing towards investing in America’s crumbling infrastructure – The Hill (Opinion)


When power most needed, ‘peaker’ polluters fire up in Berkshires. Should that continue? – Berkshire Eagle

How inversions affect pollution and air quality – KTVB-TV

UP’s science-based targets approved for reducing GHG – Progressive Railroading

Pre–COVID-19 Subway Air Polluted from DC to Boston, But New York Region’s Is the Worst, Study Finds – NYU Langone Health (Press release)


Another Problem for the U.S. Border Wall: Wildlife Destruction – Bloomberg Green

VDOT selects team to help with water quality project – WWBT-TV

Mississippi River pollution plunged after passage of Clean Water Act, LSU study says – Times-Picayune

Draft Water Permits for Bulk Petroleum Storage Facilities Will Help Protect Chelsea River and Local Communities – EPA (News release)

Appeal Challenges Housing Development on Restorable San Francisco Bay Wetlands – Center for Biological Diversity (Press release)


Caltrans seeks public input on active transportation plan survey – Red Bluff Daily News

Turns out biking and walking in winter isn’t a breeze – Daily Herald

More Puget Sound-area foot ferries could cut travel times, new study says – Seattle Times

Scooters Are Rebounding from the Pandemic ‘Nuclear Winter’ – Government Technology

MORPC Matters: Central Ohio shifting toward complete mobility network – ThisWeek (Opinion)

Tampa Named Number One in Nation for Bicycle Friendly Businesses – FDOT (Press Release)


FAA Holding Webinar to Present Latest Noise Research – AASHTO Journal

New Mobility Services Combined with Transit Show Potential to Further Accessibility, Efficiency, Equity, Safety, and Sustainability – TRB

Clearing the Skies with Research on Electric Vehicles – TRB

TRB Webinar: Retrospective, Perspective, & Prospective of Transit-Oriented Development – TRB

TRB Webinar: Transportation Impacts in Managing Retreat from High-Risk Areas – TRB

New Report Charts Path to Net-Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050, Recommends Near-Term Policies to Ensure Fair and Equitable Economic Transition and Revitalization of Manufacturing Industry – National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Quality Water from Every Tap: Proceedings of a Workshop – in Brief – National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Recalibrate Reality: The Future of NY – Regional Plan Association & 92Y (Webinar series)

Planning and TDM (Part 2): Meaningful Design + Mobility Decisions: Elevating TDM’s Role in Reshaping Our Communities – Association for Commuter Transportation (Webinar)

Webinar Recording: Navigating the Muddy Waters of the Supreme Court’s Maui Decision – National Law Review


Forest Service Manual 2200, Chapters Zero, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 70; Forest Service Handbook 2209.13, Chapters 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 and 90; and Forest Service Handbook 2209.16, Chapter 10; Extension of Comment Period for Rangeland Management; Public Notice and Comment for Changes to Forest Service Directives – Forest Service (Issuance of proposed directives; notice of availability for public comment; extension of comment period)

Technical Mapping Advisory Council; Meeting – FEMA (Committee management; notice of Federal Advisory Committee meeting)

FTA Providing $180M in Low-No Emission Grants

The Federal Transit Administration is making up to $180 million in competitive grant funds through a notice of funding opportunity for its Low or No Emission or “Low-No” grant program.

[Photo courtesy of New Flyer.]

The FTA said its Low-No program helps eligible project sponsors purchase or lease low- or no-emission vehicles, while also supporting facilities that use advanced technologies to provide cleaner, more energy-efficient transit operations in communities across the country. This year’s NOFO will prioritize applications with an environmental justice component as well as those that will support workforce development activities to help America’s transit workers succeed, the agency said.

“The Biden Administration is committed to investing in clean transportation, and the Low or No Emission Program will put more American-made, energy-efficient buses into service across the country,” noted U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a statement. “This is an important step forward in ensuring that communities have access to high-quality, zero-emission transportation options.”

“Through the Low-No grant program, transit operators nationwide have the ability to replace aging buses near the end of their lifecycle with newer, cleaner models that are more efficient to operate and maintain,” added FTA Acting Administrator Nuria Fernandez.

In support of President Biden’s climate crisis executive order issued on January 20, FTA is placing a priority on projects that will help improve air quality in specific “non-attainment areas” around the country. 

FTA also said all capital procurements made via these funds must meet its Buy America requirements, which mandate that all iron, steel, and manufactured products be produced in the United States. It also requires that the cost of components and subcomponents of rolling stock produced in the United States must be more than 70 percent of the cost of all components.  Additionally, as part of FTA’s commitment to helping transit professionals keep up-to-date on technological advancements, the agency said Low-No recipients are permitted and encouraged to use up to 0.5 percent of these grant awards for workforce development activities, with an additional 0.5 percent available to cover costs associated with training at the National Transit Institute.

MassDOT Issues Shared Winter Streets & Spaces Funding

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is providing more than $3.2 million to support 21 municipal transportation projects – including new bike-share facilities, new sidewalks, and outdoor dining areas. That money comes from the third round of Baker-Polito Administration’s Shared Winter Streets and Spaces program.

[Photo courtesy of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.]

MassDOT noted in a statement that this program – launched in June 2020 – provides technical and funding assistance to help Massachusetts cities and towns conceive, design, and implement tactical changes to curbs, streets, and parking areas in support of public health, safe mobility, and renewed commerce, with a special focus on the particular challenges of winter.

The agency added that more than $10.2 million in state funding has been allocated for this program so far. MassDOT said its Shared Winter Streets and Spaces program provides grants as small as $5,000 and as large as $500,000 for municipalities to quickly launch changes for safer walking, biking, public transit, recreation, commerce, and civic activities. These improvements can be intentionally temporary or can be pilots of potentially permanent changes, with MassDOT particularly focused on projects that respond to the current public health crisis and provide safe mobility for children and senior citizens as well as public transportation, open spaces, and parks projects. Communities identified as at high risk for COVID-19 transmission are also given preference for winter street funding as well, the agency said.

SCDOT Adopts ‘Complete Streets’ Policy for State Highway System

The South Carolina Department of Transportation adopted on February 4 what it calls a “wide-ranging” Complete Streets policy for the state-owned highway system.

[Photo courtesy of the South Carolina Department of Transportation.]

That policy requires the South Carolina DOT to work with the state’s regional transportation planning partners and regional transit providers to identify and include walking, bicycling, and transit needs as part of their regional visioning plans. The agency will then tailor those plans to the “unique needs” of locales across the state, serving as a foundation for highway planning and design, construction, maintenance, and daily operations.

“The goal of this policy is to make our highway system safe and accessible to all users; drivers, passengers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit riders,” explained South Carolina DOT Secretary Christy Hall in a statement. “Proper planning is key to ensuring that the appropriate level of multimodal accommodations is provided in the right context, on the right project, and in the right manner to meet the needs of the community.”

Key components of the agency’s new Complete Streets policy include:

  • Funding for pedestrian, bicycling, and transit accommodations is to be included in the budget for each project if warranted on the individual project and in accordance with the regional plans.
  • Updating and modernizing agency design manuals to include multimodal accommodations.
  • Establishing a council to facilitate ongoing communication to seek continuous improvement opportunities and initiatives.

“I appreciate the time and effort the various advocacy groups put into the new policy,” added Hall. “They have worked side-by-side with us from the beginning and we count on their input as we begin to make South Carolina’s highways more efficient and safer for all of our citizens.”

E-BIKE Act Would Offer Tax Credit for Electric Bicycles

Congressional legislation introduced on February 9 by Reps. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., would create a consumer tax credit to spur sales of electric bicycles for commuting and recreational purposes.

[Photo courtesy Jason Vogel, via Wikimedia Commons.]

The Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment or E-BIKE Act would create a consumer tax credit that covers 30 percent of the cost of a new electric bicycle costing less than $8,000, up to a $1,500 credit.

“My legislation will make it easier for more people from all socio-economic levels to own e-bikes and contribute to cutting our carbon output,” explained Rep Panetta in a statement. “By incentivizing the use of electric bicycles to replace car trips through a consumer tax credit, we can not only encourage more Americans to transition to greener modes of transportation but also help fight the climate crisis.”

“Communities large and small are driving a bike boom [and] notably, electric bicycles are expanding the range of people who can participate and making bike commuting even easier,” noted Rep. Blumenauer, who is also the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Bike Caucus. “I look forward to working with Congressman Panetta on this important expansion of cycling opportunities.”

“The League knows life is better for everyone when more people ride bikes, and we know e-bikes make biking a more accessible and easier option for more Americans,” said Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists. “We’re encouraged by congressional leadership on the E-BIKE Act, a bill that if passed will enable Americans to fight climate change and improve public health through the simple act of bicycling.”

Separately, the League of American Bicyclists recently named Tampa, FL, the number one city in the country for bicycle-friendly businesses or BFBs – a program that requires businesses to support and promote cycling to their customers, employees, and the community by providing bike parking, safety education, and promotions for retail customers who arrive by bike.

Tampa currently has 66 certified BFBs such as Tampa International Airport and Tampa General Hospital, adding nine new businesses in 2021 with six others renewing and improving their level of certification. “It’s exciting to see more and more cities such as Tampa embracing and encouraging safe, efficient multimodal transportation options,” noted Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault in a statement. “[We] appreciate this recognition from the Bicycle Friendly Business program as well as their efforts to recognize businesses going the extra mile for their employees and communities.”