Environmental News Highlights – August 25, 2021


Pelosi sets Oct 1 target for infrastructure, Biden spending bill – Reuters

Biden’s pro-car, pro-gasoline moves leave green allies fuming – Politico

Bills Gates Promises $1.5 Billion for Green Infrastructure if Congress Passes Plan – ForConstructionPros.com

Federal program to cut bus emissions gets a Senate mandate: Some buses must pollute – Washington Post


As people took up cycling during pandemic, Seattle went on a bike-lane-building binge – Seattle Times


DOT Secretary: Infrastructure Bill Would Give Big Boost To State’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure – Wisconsin Public Radio

The Long, Slow Drowning of the New Jersey Shore – New York Times

5 Ways the Infrastructure Bill Would Improve America’s Flood Resilience – Pew

ExxonMobil’s Oil Trucking Plan Hits Environmental Roadblock in Santa Barbara – Santa Barbara Independent

Can The Private Sector Bring About The ‘Greening’ Of Infrastructure? – Forbes (Commentary)

BART releases Sustainability Report showing progress toward goals despite COVID-19 pandemic – Bay Area Rapid Transit District (Media release)


SC Ports given federal grant for emission-reducing trucks – WCIV-TV

How to Win the War on Car Idling – CityLab

Tennessee is ending vehicle emissions testing in these 5 counties – WTVF-TV

First US Hydrogen Fuel Cell Powered Passenger Ferry Launched – Maritime Executive

Colorado Developing New Pollution Reduction Planning Standards to Address Climate Change and Air Quality – Colorado DOT (Media release)


The Role of Microtransit for Better Equity and Inclusion – Mass Transit


Fracking linked to surface water quality for first time in new study – The Hill

A Playbook for Wildfire Mitigation – Utility Products

What does it mean when a community runs out of water? Many in California are finding out – SF Gate

“Pokey picker upper” makes cleaning up highway shoulders easier, reduces waste – Arizona DOT (Media release)


EPA agreement with Kennedy Center protects water quality of Potomac River, Chesapeake Bay – National Law Review

Two Struggling Icons – Route 66 and Monarch Butterflies – Make for Strange Bedfellows – WTTW-TV


Sarasota Police launch education patrols aimed at pedestrian, bicycle safety – WWSB-TV

Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision unveils training sidewalk – WSAV-TV


AASHTO Hosting Environmental Webinar Series – AASHTO Journal

Resilience Primer for Transportation Executives – TRB

From Shellfish to Sunny Day Flooding – Why a GRP Fellow Is Dissecting Water Quality in North Carolina – National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine


Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Washington; Low Emission Vehicle Program – EPA (Proposed rule)

Notice of Proposed Supplementary Rules for the Klondike Bluffs Area of Public Lands Managed by the Moab Field Office in Grand County, UTBureau of Land Management (Notice)

Temporary Restrictions of Specific Uses on Public Lands Within the Black Rock Desert – High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area (Black Rock Desert Playa) Humboldt County, Pershing County, and Washoe County, NV Bureau of Land Management, (Notice)

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Lava Ridge Wind Project in Jerome, Lincoln, and Minidoka Counties, Idaho – Bureau of Land Management (Notice)

Notice of Intent To Conduct a Review of the Federal Coal Leasing Program and To Seek Public Comment – Bureau of Land Management (Notice)

Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program; California High- Speed Rail Authority Audit ReportFRA (Notice)

Reopening of Solicitation of Nominations for the Marine Debris Foundation Board of Directors – NOAA (Notice)

Civil Penalties – NHSTA (Supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking)

Notice of Availability of a Final Environmental Impact Statement for South Fork Wind, LLC’s Proposed Wind Energy Facility Offshore Rhode Island Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (Notice)

Quarterly Status Report of Water Service, Repayment, and Other Water – Related Contract ActionsBureau of Reclamation (Notice of contract actions)

Colorado Proposes New Transportation Pollution Standards

The Colorado Transportation Commission proposed new transportation pollution reduction planning standards on August 16 that seek to cut greenhouse gas or GHG emissions from the state’s transportation sector while improving statewide air quality and reducing smog.

[Above photo by the Colorado DOT]

The proposed rule – known as the “Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Planning Standard” – aims to “shape” how state and local governments plan projects to ensure future transportation infrastructure supports cleaner air and fights climate change, all while providing more “travel options” to Colorado residents.

Publication of this draft standard begins a 60-day public review period – running from August 13 through October 15 – during which the Colorado Department of Transportation plans to host both in-person and virtual public hearings as well as accept written comments.

The proposed rule would require the Colorado DOT 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.

This commission added that this approach would also help “streamline” the planning and delivery of innovations for improving quality of life and air quality, such as: Adding sidewalks, improving downtowns for active transportation with “complete streets,” improving local and intercity transit, and first-and-last-mile connectivity to transit facilities, and adding bike-sharing facilities.

“Transportation is our largest source of air pollutants, and this standard will help ensure that Coloradans have every possible ability to make a difference,” said Governor Jared Polis (D) in a statement.

The proposed rule would also implement a key provision of the state’s SB21-260 transportation legislation, which requires a number of steps to embed air quality and equity analysis and goals into transportation planning.  

“What we build matters. It matters for safety, for our economy, for resiliency, and for our ability to reduce air pollution and improve the quality of places where Coloradans across the state live and thrive,” explained Shoshana Lew, Colorado DOT’s executive director.

“From smoke-filled air to a confluence of fire and 500-year flooding in Glenwood Canyon, we are reminded that we have no time to waste in fighting climate change in the transportation sector – and this policy will be an important step,” she added. “This draft standard wouldn’t be possible without the hundreds of hours of input we’ve received over the last few months, and I look forward to hearing from all stakeholders on this draft.”

New Mexico DOT Unveils Five-Year Pedestrian Safety Plan

The New Mexico Department of Transportation recently adopted a five-year pedestrian safety plan that focuses on reducing pedestrian fatalities statewide, making infrastructure improvements, launching informational pedestrian safety campaigns, plus change key policies and procedures.

[Above photo by the New Mexico DOT]

The agency said plan – formally known as the “New Mexico Pedestrian Safety Action Plan” – seeks to reverse a climb in the number of pedestrian fatalities statewide. New Mexico suffered 83 pedestrian fatalities in 2019, the highest per-capita pedestrian fatality rate in the country, with another 95 pedestrians suffering serious injuries that same year.

“We must take action and the department is committed to making pedestrians safer in New Mexico,” explained Transportation Secretary Mike Sandoval in a statement. “Comprehensive pedestrian safety isn’t just a governor’s priority, it isn’t just an NMDOT priority – it’s a country, state, county, and city priority.”

He noted that New Mexico DOT’s pedestrian safety project team developed its new five-year plan following two years of research and outreach, which included gathering internal, public, and external stakeholder input, as well as cataloging and adopting national best practices.

New Mexico DOT’s efforts reflect a larger push among state departments of transportation nationwide to reduce pedestrian fatalities and injuries.

For example, while a report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association showed pedestrian fatalities trended up in the first half of 2020, that same report also noted how several state-directed efforts are successfully improving pedestrian safety.

GHSA’s annual Spotlight on Highway Safety report found that the U.S. pedestrian fatality rate increased 20 percent in the first six months of 2020 as speeding, distracted, and impaired driving – as well as other dangerous driving behaviors – increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet that report also found that pedestrian fatalities during the first half of 2020 declined in 20 states and Washington D.C. compared with the same period in 2019. Meanwhile nine states – Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina – witnessed double-digit percentage and numeric declines in pedestrian fatalities in the first six months of 2020 compared to the same six-month period in 2019.