Environmental News Highlights – March 16, 2022


Public transit gets $3.7B to woo riders, adopt green fleets – AP

Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the $560 billion investment in America’s transportation infrastructure – CBS’s 60 Minutes


TSA extends the travel mask mandate through April 18 – NPR

Since border reopening, car crossings up to pre-pandemic levels, pedestrians lag at AZ ports – KJZZ Radio


Minnesota DOT ‘Rejuvenating’ Living Snow Fences – AASHTO Journal

Survey Paints Clear Picture of Tomorrow’s Infrastructure Needs – Government Technology

Proposed Ballot Measure Would Require L.A. To Enforce Own Mobility Plan – Planetizen


First digital tool to help reduce commuter carbon emissions – IT Brief New Zealand

Electrify diesel trucks serving the ports to build a cleaner supply chain – Seattle Times (Opinion)


N.Y. can’t squander this shot at environmental justice – NY Daily News (Opinion)


KYTC Prepares to do Battle with ‘Noxious Weeds’ – AASHTO’s Center for Environmental Excellence

Oregon bill allocates $7 million to curb collisions between cars, wildlife – Baker City Herald

New machine to pick up trash on I-90 this spring – Idaho Transportation Department

NCDOT Calls on Public to Help Decrease Litter on Local Highways – WWAY-TV


Six Things to Know About the Greater Hartford Mobility Study – Hartford Courant

Grand Junction to conduct new study for increasing mobility – KREX-TV

Key local road projects in The Heights, Montrose make way for bike lanes – KTRK-TV

City wants to make scooters permanent mode of transportation in downtown area – Lincoln Journal Star

NCDOT announces updates to state bike routes after calls for safer streets – Daily Tar Heel

Iowa City, Coralville, and Tiffin to connect existing bike trails to increase bike access – Daily Iowan


Workshop: Grid Integration of EV Charging NetworksAASHTO Journal

TRB Webinar: Creating Inclusive Mobility – TRB

Mobility21 Smart Mobility Seminar on March 18: Self-driving technology and “Trust” – Can a driving simulator help? – Carnegie Mellon University (link to registration)

Public Attitudes Tracker: Energy Infrastructure and Energy Sources Autumn 2021 – UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (Link to PDF)


Proposed 2022 Renewal of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Assigning Certain Federal Environmental Responsibilities to the State of California, Including National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Authority for Certain Categorical Exclusions (CEs) – FHWA (Notice)

California State Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Standards; Advanced Clean Car Program; Reconsideration of a Previous Withdrawal of a Waiver of Preemption; Notice of Decision – EPA (Notice of decision)

White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council; Notification of Virtual Public MeetingEPA (Notice)

Air Plan Approval; NC; Removal of Transportation Facilities Rules for Mecklenburg County EPA (Final rule)

Air Plan Approval; Kentucky; Fugitive Emissions Rule – EPA (Proposed rule)

Oregon: Authorization of State Hazardous Waste Management Program Revisions – EPA (Final authorization)

Request for Nominations of Candidates for the National Environmental Education Advisory Council – EPA (Notice)

Agency Information Collection Activity: Request for Comments: Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Airport Terminal and Tower Project Information – FAA (Notice)

National Boating Safety Advisory Committee; March 2022 Meeting Coast Guard (Notice)

City of River Falls Municipal Utilities; Notice of Application Accepted for Filing, Soliciting Motions To Intervene and Protests, Ready for Environmental Analysis, and Soliciting Comments, Preliminary Terms and Conditions, and Preliminary Fishway Prescriptions – Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Notice)

Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC; Notice of Availability of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Regional Energy Access Expansion – Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Notice)

Notice of Proposed Withdrawal and Opportunity for a Public Meeting, Arizona – Bureau of Land Management (Notice)

Notice of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain District Resource Advisory Council Public Meetings – Bureau of Land Management (Notice)

Onshore Oil and Gas Operations and Coal Trespass – Annual Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustments – Bureau of Land Management (Final rule)

Call for Nominations for the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Work Group Federal Advisory Committee – Bureau of Reclamation (Notice)

EPA Proposes New Emission Rules for Trucks, Engines

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to introduce stricter heavy-duty vehicle and engine emission rules starting in model year 2027.

[Above photo by the Missouri DOT]

The proposed standards would reduce emissions of smog- and soot-forming nitrogen oxides or NOx from heavy-duty gasoline and diesel engines, EPA said, while updating commercial vehicle greenhouse gas or GHG standards in certain categories. 

Those GHG revisions focus on “subsectors” of the transportation industry where “electrification is advancing at a more rapid pace,” the agency said, such as school buses, transit buses, commercial delivery trucks, and short-haul tractors.

[Editor’s note: The U.S. Department of Energy released a 69-page study on March 7 compiled by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory purportedly showing that, by 2030, nearly half of medium- and heavy-duty trucks will be cheaper to buy, operate, and maintain as zero-emissions models versus traditional diesel-powered units.]

In a separate action, EPA said it plans to establish new GHG emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles as soon as model year 2030 – and action it said would “more comprehensively address” the long-term trend towards zero-emissions vehicles across the heavy-duty vehicle sector.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan noted in a statement that the proposed rule would help “chart a path” to increase the use of zero-emission models while reducing the exposure of communities comprised of “low income” residents and “people of color” to the pollution that causes respiratory and cardiovascular problems, among other serious health effects.

Consistent with an executive order issued by President Biden in August 2021, the new proposed rule would reduce NOx emissions from trucks by as much as 60 percent in 2045, with benefits exceeding its costs by “billions of dollars,” the EPA said. Those potential benefits include:

  • Up to 2,100 fewer premature deaths.
  • Roughly 6,700 fewer hospital admissions and emergency department visits. 
  • Some 18,000 fewer cases of asthma onset in children.
  • About 3.1 million fewer cases of asthma symptoms and allergic rhinitis symptoms.
  • Some 78,000 fewer lost days of work.
  • About 1.1 million fewer lost school days for children.

The EPA added that this rulemaking effort is the “first step” in its longer-term “Clean Trucks Plan” – a series of clean air and climate regulations that the agency said it plans to develop over the next three years to reduce pollution from trucks and buses and to advance the transition to a zero-emissions transportation future. 

Several states are creating similar emission reduction plans for vehicles, with state departments of transportation taking an active role in such efforts.

For example, in August 2021, the Colorado Transportation Commission proposed new transportation pollution reduction planning standards to cut GHG emissions from the state’s transportation sector while improving statewide air quality and reducing smog.

That proposed rule would require the Colorado Department of Transportation and the state’s five Metropolitan Planning Organizations to determine total pollution and GHG emissions increase or decrease expected from future transportation projects while taking steps to ensure that total GHG emission levels do not exceed set reduction amounts.

Furthermore, the Colorado DOT – in partnership with the Colorado Energy Office and Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment – recently unveiled the daft of a “Clean Truck Strategy” that seeks to lower greenhouse gas or GHG emissions from heavy- and medium-duty vehicles by at least 45 percent statewide by 2050.

Meanwhile, in January, California introduced a $6.1 billion zero-emission vehicle or ZEV fiscal support package to accelerate the state’s transition to ZEVs and “fight climate change” in the process.

Combined with a $3.9 billion ZEV investment package signed into law in September 2021, California would ultimately outlay $10 billion to support broader ZEV deployment statewide. That spending also dovetails with an executive order issued by Governor Gavin Newsom (D) in September 2020 that requires that all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California by 2035 must be zero-emission vehicles.

Concurrently, the Maryland Transit Administration – a division of the Maryland Department of Transportation – is moving forward to implement the state’s new Zero-Emission Bus Transition Act, which mandates all new buses procured for Maryland’s transit fleet be emission-free beginning in 2023.

The agency said it has committed to converting 50 percent of its bus fleet to zero-emission by 2030 while “seamlessly providing reliable, efficient service throughout the transition and beyond.”

AASHTO Helps Launch EV States Clearinghouse

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials recently helped establish a free repository of information on electric vehicles available to state agencies. State agencies must create a free account in order to use the clearinghouse, accessed by clicking here.

[Above photo by the Ohio DOT]

Called the “EV States Clearinghouse,” it contains a variety of documents such as sample requests for proposals or RFPs, sample contracts, EV infrastructure siting and assessment tools, plus other resources. Those tools and documents can help state agencies deploy the funding for EVs created in the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA – signed into law in November 2021 – which created the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure or NEVI formula program. That program will allocate $5 billion to states through formula funds over the next five years to build out EV charging infrastructure.

Updates to the EV clearinghouse will continually occur, adding the most recent information on IIJA implementations as well as updates from states as they move through the various stages of EV deployment.

AASHTO helped develop this EV resource in partnership with the National Association of State Energy Officials, ICF, and Atlas Public Policy, with the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory providing support for this initiative.