Environmental News Highlights – April 14, 2021


Rep. DeFazio: “We have to do a reauthorization by October 1.” – AASHTO Journal

House GOP Planning Climate Package to Counter Democrats – Bloomberg Green

Biden Plan Spurs Fight Over What ‘Infrastructure’ Really Means – New York Times

US Senators Introduce Carbon Capture, Sequestration Bill – Transport Topics

Retreat from coastlines? Politicians don’t want to talk about it. – Grist


Planners grapple with pandemic’s mystery impacts on population boom and traffic – Reporter Newspapers

More Cars on the Road as COVID Restrictions Lift Leads to Worsening Air Quality – KNBC-TV Video

What We Learned After Analyzing 5 Months of Active Mobility Responses to COVID-19 – TheCityFix (Commentary)


Managing the Transition to Electric Vehicles – AASHTO Journal

W.Va. congressional delegation, environmentalists at odds over Biden jobs and infrastructure plan – Herald-Dispatch

Ohio plans $2B in infrastructure investments; officials to discuss local projects today – Cincinnati Enquirer

Nevada bridges ranked among the country’s best by national survey – KVVU-TV

State’s new drone fleet to help with investigations, inspections – Jackson Hole News & Guide

How to move from a wish list to a national plan in adapting America’s infrastructure – Thomson Reuters Foundation (Opinion)


McKee under pressure over RI climate bill requiring net-zero emissions by 2050 – WPRI-TV

Decreasing Your Carbon Footprint Through Abandoned Farmland Restoration – Forbes

New Army of LG Robots Eye Air Pollution – CDOTrends


Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says ‘there is racism physically built’ into America’s infrastructure – The Hill

EPA reverses Trump stance in push to tackle environmental racism – The Guardian


ITD Shares Award for Eco-Friendly Bridge Work – AASHTO Journal

USDA and Partners Work to Identify Best Management Practices for Wildlife Repellents at Airports – State Aviation Journal

Bill to improve water quality for tribes passes committee – Curry Coastal Pilot

Investors worth $105 billion join the call for lasting protection for Bristol Bay from Pebble Mine – Earthworks (Blog)


Suggested changes to Reagan National Airport noise study to be released – WTOP Radio

Micromobility is thriving in the new safety economy – GreenBiz

City of Tyler starts installing 36 miles of bicycle lanes – Tyler Morning Telegraph

Transportation leaders: Pedestrian safety bills could have unintended consequences – WFTS-TV

Lower Saucon mapping walking, biking plan with input from residents – Morning Call


TRB Webinar: Navigating Environmental Compliance for Public-Private Partnerships – TRB

Progress, Challenges, and Opportunities for Sustainability Science: Proceedings of a Workshop – in Brief (2021)National Academies

Clearing the Skies with Research on Electric Vehicles – TRB

What can be done now to move us toward a more sustainable and prosperous future for all? – Nobel Prize Summit (Announcement)


National Environmental Education Advisory Council – EPA (Request for nominations)

Pipeline Safety: Pipeline Leak Detection, Leak Repair, and Methane Emission Reductions Public Meeting Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (Notice)

Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Dry Dock 1 Modification and Expansion – NOAA (Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request for comments on proposed authorization and possible renewal)

Meeting of the Regional Resource Stewardship Council – Tennessee Valley Authority (Notice)

Port Access Route Study: Northern New York Bight – Coast Guard (Supplemental notice of study, request for comments)

Louisiana DOTD Studying How to Tackle GHG Emissions

The Louisiana state government, which collects about $1.3 billion a year in taxes from the oil and gas industry, is studying whether alternative fuels and other environmental measures can help reduce greenhouse gas or GHG emissions.

[Photo by the Louisiana DOTD.]

Gov. John Bel Edwards has created a 23-member Climate Initiatives Task Force charged with creating a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050 – with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development poised to do the heavy lifting on transportation strategies within that plan to move towards the state’s GHG reduction goals.

“I think it’s a worthy effort to at least start a discussion about what needs to happen in Louisiana,” explained Louisiana DOTD Deputy Secretary Eric Kalivoda, co-chair of the task force’s transportation committee.

Devastating hurricanes, coastal subsidence, and rising sea levels – blamed on global warming – are eating away at Louisiana’s coastline. According to the governor’s office, if no significant action is taken, Louisiana could lose another 4,000 square miles of coast by 2050.

Kalivoda sees the transportation committee addressing four issues: demand management, conservation, alternative fuels, and “natural sequestration through reforestation.” The alternative fuel issue is the one that gets the most attention, and it usually focuses almost exclusively on electric vehicles, he said.

“A lot of people are going down the path of all-battery-powered electric, but I think a variety of fuel sources is the way to go,” including natural gas, hydrogen, biofuels, and traditional gasoline, he noted. “Gas and diesel engines are going to be part of the mix, certainly for the foreseeable future.”

Ann Vail, executive director of Louisiana Clean Fuels and a member of the task force, agreed.

“Oil and gas aren’t going to go away,” Vail said. “We’re looking at more of a buffet of fueling options. We have to look at biofuels, electric, and we already have a half-decent natural gas vehicle infrastructure here.”

Louisiana DOTD’s Kalivoda added that many of the 88,000 registered government vehicles in Louisiana could be converted to run on a variety of alternative fuels “as a demonstration project to the private sector. We can enter into contracts for fuel at facilities also open to the public and show the maintenance records and the problems we run into.”

Demand management simply means promoting telecommuting, compressed workweeks, remote learning, and virtual business meetings and conferences, actions that a majority of people now are familiar with, thanks to the pandemic. “The genie is out of the bottle, and I don’t think it’s going back in,” he noted.

Kalivoda said Louisiana DOTD can work on faster traffic incident management and better traffic signal coordination to lessen congestion-related emissions, but more carpooling could make an immediate impact if people would do it. “There will be a list of excuses from Miami to Anchorage as to why we can’t do that, but we can.”

He pointed out that, if people really don’t want to carpool, “maybe we can get them to plant a tree. You can absorb a lot of carbon dioxide through natural sequestration. Public properties can be re-forested. Government agencies and schools can add trees to parking lots. This could be mitigation for transportation.”

Because Louisiana has so many chemical plants and refineries, transportation emissions make up only 26 percent of GHG emissions – much less than other states, Kalivoda said. Industry is responsible for 49 percent, power production makes up 23 percent, and homes and other businesses account for the rest. The panel is expected to produce interim recommendations by the end of April, and a final report and recommendations by February 2022.

KYTC Treating for ‘Noxious Weeds’ Along State Roadways

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet crews began treating for noxious and nuisance weeds along state roadways in March, with those treatments designed to help control the spread of “undesirable plants” along state highway rights of way to improve driver safety and ensure efficient maintenance operations.

[Photo by the KYTC.]

In particular, KYTC crews are targeting Johnson grass, giant foxtail, Canada thistle, nodding thistle, common teasel, multiflora rose, Amur honeysuckle, poison hemlock, marestail, Japanese knotweed and kudzu.

The agency added that those noxious weeds often invade and destroy the roadside turf grass, leaving these areas vulnerable to erosion. They can also smother native plants through rapid reproduction and long-term persistence.

“Left uncontrolled, noxious weeds can grow so large that they interfere with a driver’s line of vision on highways,” Jim Gray, explained Jim Gray, KYTC secretary, in a statement.

“Weed maintenance is important in preventing potential damage to pavement and embankments, as well as clogged ditches and drainage problems,” he said.

State departments of transportation are also experimenting with other forms of weed control as well.

For example, the California Department of Transportation – known as Caltrans – began using goats in early 2020 as part of a pilot project to control weeds within a 20-acre site adjacent to Highway 1 just north of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse.

Instead of relying on herbicides, Caltrans is taking what it calls a “more sustainable approach” to revitalizing the native coastal prairie adjacent to a highway realignment project originally completed in 2017.

According to an agency statement, the project brought in 300 goats for nearly a month to help remove invasive non-native weeds such as bur clover, mustard, and thistle.