FHWA Issues Finalized GHG Performance Measurement Rule

The Federal Highway Administration recently issued a finalized performance measurement rule to provide state departments of transportation and Metropolitan Planning Organizations with a “national framework” for tracking transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions GHGs, along with the requirement to set their own targets for GHG reduction.

[Above image by FHWA]

Entitled “National Performance Management Measures; Assessing Performance of the National Highway System, Greenhouse Gas Emissions Measure,” FHWA’s final GHG performance rule – located in the Federal Register under docket number FHWA-2021-0004 – largely retains what the agency issued in its notice of proposed rulemaking in July 2022, which required state DOTs and MPOs to establish declining carbon dioxide (CO2) targets for the GHG measure on the 223,668-mile National Highway System (NHS) and report on progress toward the achievement of those targets.

The final rule defines the GHG measure to be the percent change in on-road tailpipe CO2 emissions on the NHS, relative to the reference year of 2022 instead of 2021 – a recommendation the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials submitted to FHWA in its commentary on the GHG performance measure.

As a result, state DOTs must establish targets no later than February 1, 2024, with MPOs required to establish targets no later than 180 days after the state DOT.

FHWA Administrator Shailen Bhatt emphasized that this new tool will play a key role in the Biden administration’s effort to cut U.S. carbon pollution in half by 2030.

“Transportation is the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. and reducing emissions from that sector while ensuring our economy works for everyday Americans is critical to addressing the climate crisis,” he noted in a statement. “We don’t expect state DOTs and MPOs to solve a problem this large on their own, which is why this performance measure does not impose penalties for those who miss their targets.”

AASHTO noted in its commentary on the proposed rule that state DOTs “recognize the urgency and need to address and mitigate climate change given its harmful impacts to both the natural and built environment” and thus “strongly support” FHWA’s overall goal and intent of reducing GHGs.

AASHTO further noted that, regardless of FHWA’s GHG measure, all state DOTs are “addressing extreme weather impacts” as part of their transportation asset management plans which serve to guide their investment decisions.

“In addition, many states are developing resilience improvement plans to holistically understand how they can make the transportation infrastructure more resilient to withstand the effects of extreme weather and climate change,” the organization added.

That being said, AASHTO also noted that not all state DOTs have the same ability to directly affect the reduction in GHG emissions, nor do they have control over certain strategies and tactics that may look promising for reducing GHG emissions.

“These strategies and actions will vary by state and, like other state and federal transportation goals, require different approaches appropriate to the specific state context,” the organization noted.

In addition, AASHTO had expressed in its 2022 comments that it does not agree FHWA was provided the necessary legal authority by Congress to establish this particular performance measure, as the approach to establishing the GHG rule could lead to the establishment of new and additional performance measures without explicit Congressional authorization in the future.

Beyond the development of FHWA’s regulation, several states have been engaging in their own carbon-reduction efforts.

For example, in August 2021, 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.

Known as the “Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Planning Standard,” that rule 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.

As part of that effort, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado Energy Office, and the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment developed a “Clean Truck Strategy” in March 2022 that seeks to lower greenhouse gas or GHG emissions from heavy- and medium-duty vehicles by at least 45 percent statewide by 2050.

Meanwhile, the Indiana Department of Transportation issued a Carbon Reduction Strategy document in December 2022. That plan recognizes that, while expected economic growth and heavy freight activity across the state are just some of the headwinds the agency will face in achieving its CO2 reduction objectives, technological advances and deepening partnerships with MPOs, logistics industry, transit agencies and other key stakeholders should help cut GHG emissions across Indiana’s transportation system.

Utah Aims to Double EV Fast Charging Capacity in 2024

The Utah Department of Transportation plans to double the state’s current fast charging capacity for electric vehicles by the end of 2024 with the addition of 15 new sites funded through the $5 billion National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure or NEVI Formula Program launched in 2022.

[Above image by Utah DOT]

Since 2015, the agency said the number of EVs in Utah has grown by an average of 48 percent year over year – and the rate of growth is climbing. To meet this increasing need, the Utah DOT – together with the Utah Office of Energy Development – identified 15 strategic sites for EV fast chargers on major state roads. In response, private entities submitted 75 applications to match their private fund with NEVI funding.

[Editor’s note: The Federal Highway Administration issued final approvals for EV infrastructure deployment plans submitted by all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico in September 2022; plans required in order to access NEVI funding. All of those plans were updated in 2023 to include details regarding ongoing transportation electrification projects.]

The agency – which awarded NEVI program grants for those 15 sites in mid-November – said that fast charging site expansion should allow EV owners to travel anywhere along Utah’s interstates, US-6, and US-191.

“The future is coming, and these 15 new fast charging sites will ensure Utah will be ready for it,” explained Utah DOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras in a statement. “Building out the statewide charging network really opens the door to let Utahns choose to travel where they want, when they want, in the way they want.”

He noted that creating a charging network of this magnitude requires a team effort between the federal government, the state of Utah and private businesses. Utah is receiving about $36 million in federal funding, and – when combined with a minimum 20 percent private match – the program is expected to invest a total of $43 million in the state’s EV charging network.

In this first phase of the program, about $17.5 million will be invested in providing the traveling public with access to fast EV charging every 50 miles along Utah’s interstate highways. No state taxpayer dollars are being used in this phase, as Utah DOT is entering into public-private partnerships to implement the project.

State departments of transportation across the country are engaged in a variety of efforts to support broader deployment of EVs.

For example, the Vermont Agency of Transportation is encouraging businesses, municipalities, and nonprofits to purchase or lease electric fleet vehicles by offering up to $5,000 in rebates for each plug-in EV that replaces an internal combustion engine-powered vehicle.

Concurrently, the North Carolina Department of Transportation is helping support the launch of the state’s first electric aircraft charging hub in early 2024 at Raleigh Executive Jetport in Sanford; a hub designed to be “multimodal” so it can charge not only electric aircraft but electric cars and trucks as well.

Meanwhile, Oregon residents living in multifamily homes as well as motorists near public parking areas may soon have better access to electric vehicle or EV charging stations, thanks to the new Community Charging Rebates Program being rolled out by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Environmental News Highlights – November 29, 2023


State DOTs Win Top Prizes in America’s Transportation Awards Competition -AASHTO Journal

Fifth National Climate Assessment -US Global Change Research Program

Biden administration proposes limiting environmental reviews to speed up renewables -The Hill

NYC Congestion Pricing Could Unleash a Transportation Revolution –CityLab

Most Americans still have to commute every day. Here’s how that experience has changed. -New York Times



How one city funds climate resilience, a dollar at a time -Route Fifty

Port of Seattle moves forward on electrification -National Fisherman

Retired Wind Turbine Blades Live on as Park Benches and Picnic Tables -Bloomberg Green

Minnesota’s Metro Transit Using Rainwater To Clean Buses At New Garage -KMSP-TV



So Thieves Nabbed Your Catalytic Converter. Here’s Where It Ended Up. -New York Times

Researchers Explore Hydrogen Power for Railways -Oak Ridge National Laboratory Review (pdf)


The best and worst states for green, equitable transportation -Route Fifty

L.A. Agencies Sign Equity in Infrastructure Project Pledge and Launch ‘California Plan’ -Los Angeles Sentinel

85% of Rural Residents Have Reasonable Access to Intercity Transportation; Lack of Reasonable Access Falls Disproportionately on Low-Income Households -Bureau of Transportation Statistics (media release)

FTA Announces Nearly $5 Million Funding Opportunity to Improve Transit Access for Older Adults, People with Disabilities, and Low-Income Individuals -FTA (media release)

EPA Announces $2 Billion to Fund Environmental and Climate Justice Community Change Grants as Part of Investing in America Agenda -EPA (media release)



Truck hits Pennsylvania covered bridge that dates back to 1800s -WBAL-TV


San Diego votes to advance rolling back scooter laws after Bird pulls from city –KSWB

Chattanooga is reducing traffic lanes and adding bike lanes to more city streets -Chattanooga Times Free Press

Fighting loneliness with free transportation in Saco, Maine -WCSH-TV

Interactive map shows crash data between motorists and pedestrians, cyclists in Providence -Providence Business Journal

Commuter Dividend: The Economic Value of Commuters for City and Suburbs in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut Region -Regional Plan Association


Methods to Manage Tree Growth Near Airports –ACRP

How New Corporate Environmental Standards Will Impact Airports –ACRP

TRB’s involvement in research on Resilience from 2021-2023 -TRB (pdf)

TRB Webinar: Sustainable and Low-Carbon Solutions for Asphalt Pavements –NCHRP

TRB Webinar: Accessible Floating Bus Stops –TRB

TRB Webinar: Advancing Equity in Travel Experience – The Role of Gender and Identity –TRB

TRB Webinar: Climate Resilient Design for Culverts and Pavements –TRB

Navigating the 4-day Commute: Redesigning Employee Shuttle Programs -Association for Commuter Transportation (webinar)

Should Cities Tax Uber and Lyft? –SSRN


Fiscal Year 2024 Competitive Funding Opportunity: Innovative Coordinated Access and Mobility (ICAM) Pilot Program -FTA (Notice)

Safety Advisory 2023–07; Review and Implement New Predictive Weather Modeling and Proactive Safety Processes Across the National Rail Network To Prevent Weather-Related Accidents and Incidents -FRA (Notice)

Notice of Intent To Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement To Reconsider a Highway Right-of-Way Application and Associated Amendment of an Incidental Take Permit, Washington County, Utah -Fish and Wildlife Service (Notice of intent)

Adoption and Submittal of State Plans for Designated Facilities: Implementing Regulations Under Clean Air Act Section 111(d) -EPA (Final rule)

Release of Achieving Health and Environmental Protection Through EPA’s Meaningful Involvement Policy -EPA (Draft policy; Notice of availability)

National Environmental Justice Advisory Council; Notification of Public Meeting -EPA (Notice)

White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council; Notification of Virtual Public Meeting -EPA (Notice)

National and Governmental Advisory Committees to the U.S. Representative to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) -EPA (Notice of meeting)

Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) and Small Communities Advisory Subcommittee (SCAS); Meeting -EPA (Notification of public meeting)

Environmental Justice Scorecard -Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) (Request for information)

Multi-Year Certificate of Documentation for Recreational Vessel Owners -Coast Guard (Final rule)

Recreational Boating Safety Projects, Programs, and Activities Funded Under Provisions of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act; Fiscal Year 2023 -Coast Guard (Notice)

National Boating Safety Advisory Committee; Vacancies -Coast Guard (Request for applications)

Black Hills National Forest Advisory Board -Forest Service (Notice of meeting)