Colorado DOT Preps for Greener Aircraft to Fill the Skies

The Colorado Department of Transportation’s Division of Aeronautics wants to get its 76 public use airports ready for alternatively powered aircraft and the fuels they use.

[Above photo by the Colorado DOT]

The agency is partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory or NREL to study which alternative fuel aircraft could use its airports and what changes would have to be made to accommodate the planes and their fuels. The Colorado Aeronautical Board is putting up $400,000 to support the NREL study, which will take about 18 months to complete.

Preparing the airports for alternative fuel aircraft “will make air transportation in Colorado more efficient, more equitable and accessible, with reduced environmental impacts,” Colorado Aeronautics Division Director David Ulane said in a statement.

U.S. air travel contributes about 2.7 percent of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s 2021 Aviation Climate Action Plan, which seeks to put the industry on a path toward net-zero emissions by 2050.

A recent report from global consultant McKinsey estimates that aircraft using hydrogen or electric power could comprise up to 38 percent of the global aircraft fleet by 2050. The report says airports will have to make significant financial and land investments to meet the fuel generation and storage demands of alternative fueled aircraft.

A major international airport such as Denver International Airport, which is one of the busiest in the world, could expect to invest about $3.9 billion in infrastructure to shift toward alternative propulsion by 2050, the report concluded.

Assessing those infrastructure needs is one of the goals of the Colorado study. Other objectives include:

  • Identifying new alternatively powered aircraft that could utilize Colorado’s airports.
  • Identifying at which airports battery-electric general aviation aircraft could be deployed.
  • Identifying government policy and regulatory considerations, financial impacts, and potential incentives to encourage and support new aviation technology.
  • Exploring opportunities to make travel faster and more efficient while broadening access to air travel and reducing environmental impacts.

“Colorado’s Division of Aeronautics is undertaking a first-of-its-kind statewide evaluation of next-generation aircraft, aviation fuels, and implications on necessary infrastructure,” NREL Strategic Partnerships Manager Brett Oakleaf added. “This leadership is critical for preparing and de-risking the aviation transition for Colorado and its airports.”

State departments of transportation play a critical role in the aviation sector, especially when it comes to airport infrastructure needs.

For example, several state DOT studies – including ones from IowaIllinoisGeorgiaWyoming, and Alaska – show that airports function as significant “economic engines” as well as key mobility hubs for many states.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials also recently published a new report analyzing the impact of general aviation on state and local economies across the country.

That report – officially entitled “The Impact of General Aviation on State and Local Economies: State Reports 2023” – is a joint effort between AASHTO, the Alliance for Aviation Across America, and the National Association of State Aviation Officials.

AASHTO said this report is envisioned as a communication resource to help illustrate the important role general aviation serves in state and local communities, as well as within the nation’s economy.

Video: Oregon DOT Tips for Culturally Modified Trees

A recent video produced by the Oregon Department of Transportation provides insights into the importance of “culturally modified trees” or CMTs and how states need to treat them, especially during post-wildfire recovery efforts.

[Above photo by the Oregon DOT]

For example, in September 2020, devastating wildfires burned nearly one million acres of forest across Oregon. During the removal of hazardous trees and debris following the fire, archeologists and tribal monitors recorded many archeological sites, including CMTs.

Several CMTs could not be avoided during tree removal so, as part of the mitigation effort for having to remove those CMTs, Oregon DOT created a training video with the assistance of Oregon tribes as well as other federal and state agencies.

That video – one of several produced by Oregon DOT in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Historical Research Associates, Inc., and consulting firm WSP USA – reinforces the importance of culturally-significant archeological sites and how transportation agencies and others should treat them.

Environmental News Highlights – June 20, 2023


USDOT To Help Rural, Tribal Communities Access Funding Opportunities -Daily Yonder

Amtrak Releases Annual Sustainability Report -Amtrak


The New War on Bad Air -New York Times


Supreme Court water ruling could transform NEPA, ESA -E&E News


Wisconsin GOP lawmakers vote to boost road funding, increase electric vehicle fee -Wisconsin Public Radio

Exploring the 15-Minute City Concept and Its Potential for Communities of All Sizes -National League of Cities

University Of Iowa Researching Use Of Automated Vehicles On Rural Roads -WOI-TV

Arlington, Va., transit station will support zero emissions bus fleet -Building Design and Construction


Q&A: Benefits of switching to zero-emission vehicles, ways to achieve health equity -Healio

EPA, green groups settle lawsuit over gas power plant smog limits -Reuters

35 vintage photos reveal what Los Angeles looked like before the US regulated pollution -Business Insider India

Why the EPA’s new carbon emissions rules will win in court -The Hill (opinion)


White House launches new environmental justice scorecard -U.S. Green Building Council

Federal Energy Regulators Must Prioritize Environmental Justice in Confronting the Climate Crisis -U.S. News and World Report (commentary)


Oregon law protects state’s wetlands over Supreme Court ruling -Oregon Public Broadcasting

Michigan law shields wetlands from Supreme Court decision impacts

Mixed feelings in Ohio about recent ruling on Clean Water Act -Radio

Pilot program in Raleigh area relies on volunteers to collect wetlands data -Coastal Review


Maine DOT Worker Writes About Roundabouts In New Children’s Book -WCSH-TV

Can historic preservation and green initiatives ever play nice?


Bike Buses: A Global Trend in Active School Transportation -Momentum

Too much noise can hurt your health and shorten your lifespan. Here’s how to know if you’re at risk, and tips for protecting yourself -Fortune

Getting to zero traffic fatalities will take more than infrastructure funds, experts say -Smart Cities Dive

How Do Airports Address Noise Management? -Simple Flying


Airport Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic -ACRP

Pollinator Habitat Conservation Along Roadways, Volume 9: Mid-Atlantic -NCHRP

Pollinator Habitat Conservation Along Roadways, Volume 10: Midwest -NCHRP

Pollinator Habitat Conservation Along Roadways, Volume 11: Northeast -NCHRP

Pollinator Habitat Conservation Along Roadways, Volume 12: Northern Plains -NCHRP

TRB Webinar: Community-Based and Equitable Transportation Response in Disaster -TRB

Homelessness and Climate Change: A Roundup of Resources for Communities Before, During, and After Disasters -U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness


New Source Performance Standards for Greenhouse Gas Emissions From New, Modified, and Reconstructed Fossil Fuel-Fired Electric Generating Units; Emission Guidelines for Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Existing Fossil Fuel-Fired Electric Generating Units; … -EPA (Proposed rule; extension of comment period)

Draft National Strategy To Prevent Plastic Pollution: Extension of Comment Period -EPA (Notice of availability; extension of comment period)

Notice of Public Meeting for the National Park System Advisory Board -National Park Service (Notice)

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement and Notice To Solicit Comments and Hold Public Scoping Meetings on the Development of Post-2026 Operational Guidelines and Strategies for Lake Powell and Lake Mead -Bureau of Reclamation (Notice)

Forest Service Handbook 5509.11, Chapter 10 Title Claims and EncroachmentsUSDA (Notice of availability for public comment)

Rights-of-Way, Leasing, and Operations for Renewable Energy -Bureau of Land Management (Proposed rule)

Notice of Availability of the Proposed Southeastern Oregon Resource Management Plan Amendment and Final Environmental Impact Statement -Bureau of Land Management (Notice)

Notice of Intent To Conduct Restoration Planning for Discharge of Oil From the Amplify Energy Corp Pipeline P00547 Into the Pacific Ocean Near Huntington Beach, Orange County, California -NOAA (Notice)

Application for Recertification of Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council -Coast Guard (Notice of availability; request for comments)

Request for Applicants for Appointment to the Surface Transportation Security Advisory Committee -TSA (Committee management; request for applicants)