Nevada DOT to Play Role in Clean Cars Nevada Initiative

Governor Steve Sisolak (D) announced a new initiative in mid-June that crafts new regulations to spur the broader adoption of more low- and zero-emission electric-powered passenger cars and trucks across Nevada beginning in 2024.

[Above photo courtesy of the Nevada DOT]

“Transportation is the number one source of greenhouse gases in Nevada, and therefore a top priority for addressing climate change statewide,” explained Bradley Crowell, director of the Nevada department of conservation and natural resources, in a statement.

“To move Nevada’s climate future forward, we must reduce pollution from the cars and trucks we drive as well as modernize our urban planning efforts through transit-oriented development and electrification of our transportation infrastructure,” he added. “Establishing Clean Car Standards will help address the harmful impacts of climate change stemming from vehicle tailpipe pollution, while simultaneously advancing a stronger, more resilient economy for Nevada.”

The Nevada Department of Transportation is already playing a role in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the state and will help with public outreach efforts in regards to the new Clean Car effort, noted Meg Ragonese, the agency’s public information officer.

“The Nevada Department of Transportation is partnering with the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector,” she explained via email. “The Nevada DOT is also unveiling an internal working group to develop strategies and policies to reduce GHG emissions in our operations to meet state greenhouse gas reduction targets.”

The agency will also continue to develop further innovations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through its internal working group, Ragonese added. 

The Nevada DOT is already working to promote cleaner transportation throughout the state through several other initiatives as well.

For example, in both Las Vegas and Reno, the agency and utility provider NV Energy hosted guest drives of various electric vehicle brands to provide state residents an opportunity to get behind the wheel to learn more about electric vehicle technology and how it could make their personal transportation more sustainable and environmentally friendly. 

Nevada is also a part of the U.S. Climate Alliance and is therefore accelerating policies to reduce carbon and promote clean energy, with reducing transportation-related GHGs within the state a top priority. Consequently, the Nevada DOT said it is working closely with local government partners such as Washoe County to become one of the leading states pursuing a statewide Clean Cities designation through the U.S. Department of Energy. 

Concurrently, the agency is part of the Nevada Electric Highway effort that seeks to link the state with utility and private partners to expand Nevada’s electric vehicle infrastructure at strategic locations along state highways. The Nevada DOT noted it is working to reduce “range anxiety” among motorists by establishing more re-charging stations to ensure electric and hybrid vehicles have enough power to safely reach their destinations.

Ultimately, the Nevada DOT said those efforts are part of a statewide push to keep Nevada “at the forefront” of national policy development and coordination to ensure that all emerging transportation technologies, including reduction of GHGs via vehicles, can be integrated effectively and to the best advantage of the state.

House Climate Report Recommends Transit Expansion, Further VMT Study

The House of Representatives Select Committee on the Climate Crisis unveiled a broad 547-page plan on June 30 that includes among its recommendations that Congress fund a “massive expansion of public transit” and “further examine” switching to a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) or similarly styled fee in lieu of motor fuel taxes.

“One area that the majority staff for the Select Committee did not tackle but remains important for Congress to discuss is the issue of the viability and equity of current revenue streams for highway and transit, including the gasoline tax,” the report noted. “Congress should continue to explore and test options for alternatives that fund U.S. transportation infrastructure priorities while advancing environmental and climate priorities, such as a vehicle miles traveled fee.”

The committee’s plan also suggested “at least” doubling annual funding for new intercity passenger rail and bus rapid transit projects.

“Transit projects that reduce air pollution and improve mobility in environmental justice communities and underserved rural areas should receive additional funds and consideration,” the report said. “Federal support for projects should be conditioned on recipients meeting strong labor standards – including Buy America and Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements – complying with all labor, environmental, and civil rights statutes, and signing community benefit agreements and project labor agreements, where relevant.”

The overarching goals of the committee’s wide-ranging climate plan including reaching “net-zero” carbon dioxide or CO2 emissions before 2050, with interim steps including the reduction of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 37 percent below 2010 levels in 2030 and 88 percent below 2010 levels in 2050.

Every sector of the nation’s economy would be affected by the plan, from the energy industry – where “rapid deployment” of more wind, solar, and other “zero-carbon” power sources would occur – to the construction segment, which, among other mandates, would be required to develop and use more “direct capture” and low-carbon building materials.

The committee’s report describes the transportation sector as the “largest source” of energy-related CO2 emissions in the country – accounting for 37 percent of all emissions in 2019 – and targets it for major changes.

“Congress needs to take a multi-pronged approach to the transportation sector to drive down emissions and increase the sector’s resilience in the face of worsening climate impacts,” the report said. “Improving a vehicle’s efficiency, for example, will not be enough if that vehicle travels farther each year.”

To that end, it recommends enacting a “suite” of new federal transportation policies that could impact state departments of transportation, including:

  • Deploying “demand-pull” and “supply-push” policies that incorporate: a national zero-emission vehicle sales standard; federal procurement requirements; consumer tax incentives to defray upfront vehicle costs; and tax incentives, grants, and other financial tools to help cities, states, and other entities to install electric charging stations and other zero-emission fueling infrastructure.
  • Require states and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to include GHG emissions reductions in their long-range public transit and highway planning efforts.
  • Direct states and MPOs to evaluate how well the nation’s transportation system is “facilitating access” to housing, jobs, and critical services. With the counsel of outside experts, it recommends that the U.S. Department of Transportation “develop standards and criteria” for how to measure access, including a consideration for how access might differ for low-income communities and communities of color.
  • Require states to use “complete streets” and “context-sensitive principles” when designing and implementing transportation projects and provide grant funding to support associated infrastructure investment.
  • Increase funding for the Low-No Grant Program “by at least tenfold” and limit grants to zero-emission buses and associated equipment.
  • Increase funding for USDOT programs to support passenger ferry electrification and installation of necessary shore-side charging infrastructure.
  • Create a new formula and grant program managed by the USDOT to protect vulnerable transportation assets in advance of disasters, including investing in evacuation routes and increasing resilience to flooding, wildfire, erosion, and extreme weather.
  • Allow states to use funds apportioned under the National Highway Performance Program for projects to mitigate the risk of recurring damage from extreme weather, flooding, and other natural disasters on transportation infrastructure.

Environmental News Highlights – July 8, 2020

A roundup of headlines curated for state transportation environmental professionals


House Passes $1.5T Infrastructure Package – AASHTO Journal

House Climate Report Urges Transit Expansion, VMT Study – AASHTO Journal

GOP irked as $14 billion for water systems became $40 billion – Roll Call

Blumenauer’s bike-related bills move forward in $1.5 trillion House transportation bill – Bike Portland

Could the Coronavirus Kill the Gasoline Tax? – Pittsburgh Today

House Highway Bill Sets Up Showdown On Energy Tax Breaks – Law360


Lessons continue to be learned in TRB events on COVID-19 – TRB

Recycling stakeholders say years of turbulence helped prepare industry for pandemic – Waste Dive

EPA must consider COVID-19 when setting air pollutant standards – The Hill (Commentary)

CEOs Drop Climate Change Talk to Focus on Surviving Covid-19 – Bloomberg

Webinar Series: The Impacts of COVID-19 on Tele-Activities, Travel and Purchasing BehaviorsRensselaer Institute of Technology (Webinar announcement)


Column: For communities and climate, federal government should leave environmental protections alone – Columbus Dispatch (Opinion)


Developers cancel long-delayed, $8B Atlantic Coast Pipeline – AP

Judge orders Dakota Access pipeline shut down pending review – AP

In New York City, ‘Managed Retreat’ Has Become a Grim Reality – InsideClimate News


House Climate Change Plan Tackles Heavy-Duty Equipment at Ports – Transport Topics


‘The Wrong Complexion For Protection.’ How Race Shaped America’s Roadways And Cities – NPR

Video: Access to Nature and Outdoor Recreation are Critical, Underappreciated Environmental Justice Issues – InsideClimate News

Time for California communities to step up on environmental justice – Cal Matters (Commentary)


Mapping America’s Underwater Real Estate – Bloomberg Green

Understanding Wildlife Behavioral Responses to Traffic Noise and Light to Improve Mitigation Planning – UC Davis

ADOT, USGS partnership is a model for sustainable transportation solutions – Arizona DOT

Roadkill Reduced During Lockdowns, but Traffic Is Increasing Again – Smithsonian Magazine


As summer gets underway, a look at this year’s 10 best U.S. cities for parks – Washington Post (subscription)


Regional Plan Association Calls For Proposed 425-mile Connected and Protected Five Borough Bikeway – RPA (Press release)

He Coined The Word ‘Gridlock’ Now New York City’s Sam Schwartz Plans A Bicycle Bridge To Prevent It – Forbes

It’s Not Too Late to Turn the Electric Scooter Industry Around – Bloomberg Green


Guidebook for Managing Data from Emerging Technologies for TransportationTRB

Seeking principal investigators for FY2021 NCHRP Synthesis Projects: Letters of interest due August 27, 2020 – TRB

Guidelines to Incorporate the Costs and Benefits of Adaptation Measures in Preparation for Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change – TRB

Incorporating the Costs and Benefits of Adaptation Measures in Preparation for Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change – Guidebook – TRB

Advancing Demand Management in Resort Towns and Communities – FHWA (Office of Operations)


Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act Program (WIFIA) Criteria Pursuant to the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 – EPA (Notice)

Agency Information Collection Activities; Federal Fish and Wildlife Permit Applications and Reports— Native Endangered and Threatened SpeciesFish and Wildlife Service (Notice of information collection; request for comment)

Petition for Partial Reconsideration of Interstate Transport of Fine Particulate Matter: Revision of Federal Implementation Plan Requirements for Texas – EPA (Notice of action denying petition for reconsideration)

Hours of Service of Drivers; Exemption Applications: U.S. Department of Energy – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (Notice of final disposition; grant of application for exemption)