Environmental News Highlights – December 8, 2021


AASHTO Comments on CEQ’s Proposed NEPA ChangesAASHTO Journal

EPA Outlines $7.4B for Water Infrastructure Headed to States – AP

What’s Next for Biden’s Build Back Better Act? – Illuminem

Reconciliation bill: Transportation secretaries from rural states raise alarm over green energy provision – Fox Business

Federal Highway Administration Unveils Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act `One-Stop Shop’ Website, Publishing Request for Information – FHWA (Media Release)


New US travel rules: What you need to know about the changes prompted by OmicronCNN


Governors, State DOT CEOs Talk Infrastructure At Summit – AASHTO Journal

Illinois DOT Working to Develop Sustainable Pavements – AASHTO Journal

A changing climate is buckling concrete and flooding roads. States are moving slowly to guard the nation’s infrastructure. – Washington Post


Port slowdowns worsen air pollution in neighboring communities – Marketplace

Could Roads Recharge Electric Cars? The Technology May Be Close. – New York Times

Port of LA seeks proposals for zero-emission truck project – Container Management

Why doesn’t Indiana have a car emissions inspection program? – Indy Star

Researchers eye alternative energy to power North Carolina state ferries – Coastal Review

Autonomous trucks can drastically cut emissions (Here’s how) – ZDNet


A Conversation with Louisiana DOTD Secretary and AASHTO President Dr. Shawn WilsonAASHTO’s ETAP Podcast

Public Transit Pivots Toward Equity, Accessibility in 2021 – Government Technology


NCDOT is building highway bridges for wildlife as well as humans – News & Observer

Siesta Key residents hope mini reefs will help improve water quality, ecosystem in canals – WFLA


Highway Historical Sign Repair And Replacement Underway In Idaho – Idaho Transportation Department


Automating the War on Noise Pollution – CityLab

Golden Gate Bridge bicycling speed limit takes effect Jan. 1 – Marin Independent Journal

Bikes and pedestrians over cars envisioned for busy downtown Aspen corridor – Aspen Times

Cleveland Metroparks awarded $950,000 to advance transportation projects – Cleveland Jewish News

Signage Along Cleveland Bike Lanes Causing Frustrations For Cyclists, Confusion For Drivers – WJW-TV

Electric Bicycle Demo Program ‘EZBike Project’ Gets Underway In Santa Maria, California – Santa Barbara County Association of Governments

Why Are Cities Hostile to Strollers? – The New Republic

Abandoned rail line to be converted into 32-mile recreational trail through central MaineMorning Sentinel

LA Paves the Way to Closing Gap in 14-Mile Bicycle Network From Santa Monica to Exposition Park – KNBC-TV

Bike infrastructure will help prevent crashes and fatalities, advocates and researchers say – Capital News Service

Why Communities Should Adopt Vision Zero to Curb Traffic Fatalities – Route Fifty (Commentary)


TRB Webinar: The Mighty River – Inland Waterway Resilience Analysis – TRB

TRB Webinar: Examining Exclusions – What’s Missing in the Historic Review Process? – TRB

TRB’s Sustainability and Emerging Transportation Technology (SETT) Conference TRB

Address Climate Change and Breathe Easier with Research on Transportation Emissions – TRB


Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (CAAAC): Notice of Meeting – EPA (Notice)

National Environmental Justice Advisory Council; Notification for a Virtual Public MeetingEPA (Notice)

Air Plan Approval; FL, GA, NC, SC; Interstate Transport (Prongs 1 and 2) for the 2015 8-Hour Ozone Standard – EPA (Final rule)

Broadband Infrastructure Deployment – FHWA (Final rule)

Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act Request for InformationFHWA (Notice)

National Forest System Land Management Planning; CorrectionUSDA (Technical correction)

Development of Guidance for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure DeploymentFHWA (Notice)

Buy America Request for InformationUSDOT and EPA (Notice)

PennDOT to Help Spearhead State’s First-Ever Litter Action Plan

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will play a key role in executing the state’s first-ever ‘Litter Action Plan’ unveiled by Governor Tom Wolf (D) on November 22.

[Above photo by PennDOT]

“Pennsylvania is a great place to live, work, and raise a family. It’s a beautiful state with stunning landscapes and bountiful natural resources. But, we’ve got a litter problem,” said Gov. Wolf in a statement.

“Litter is bad for the environment and our communities, it’s a drain on taxpayer dollars,” he added. “I’m excited to unveil a solution that all 13 million Pennsylvanians can be a part of. It’s a blueprint for a cleaner commonwealth.”

Demonstrating the cost of litter to communities and the commonwealth, PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian noted that the agency’s annual $14 million cost to clean up litter makes litter prevention especially important.

“We recognize we need to change behavior, not just clean up the mess,” she said. “With this commonwealth Litter Action Plan, we’ve provided examples, resources, and calls to action so we can make some transformative change here in Pennsylvania.”

The plan outlines 16 recommendations for Pennsylvania, while also detailing efforts by several state agencies in supporting the “higher-level” recommendations in the plan. Those include:

  • PennDOT, the Department of Community and Economic Development, and Department of Environmental Protection collaboration on an anti-litter campaign anticipated for spring 2022.
  • PennDOT analysis of where and how to ensure it has the right litter-reducing tools in place in its public-facing facilities.
  • DEP’s work on a new rulemaking to provide convenient and affordable access to waste disposal and recycling services in rural areas of Pennsylvania where trash collection and recycling services are currently not economically feasible. 
  • Updates to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources “Leave No Trace” program with working to update their concessionaire agreements to include language aimed at combatting litter, such as requiring food providers to minimize paper straw and disposable utensil use.
  • When onsite composting is available at a state park, concessionaires will be required to work with DCNR to convert as many of their food service products to compostable, paper-based forest product alternatives and then compost them with the food waste.
  • The Pennsylvania State Police “Operation Clean Sweep,” which launched this summer, reinforces a zero-tolerance mindset with litter enforcement. This complements their assistance with enforcing “Litter Enforcement Corridors” that state agencies and local governments can designate via a 2018 law to combat litter.

The plan’s workgroups included 17 participants from local governments and among the group’s recommendations for local governments is the suggestion to “get creative with public waste infrastructure maintenance.” It also recommends several proposals to the state’s General Assembly to change existing laws – as well as proposing three laws – to reduce littering.

Colorado DOT Helping Reduce Impact of Firefighting Foam

The Colorado Department of Transportation’s Division of Aeronautics recently wrapped up a two-year effort to help certified commercial service airports statewide acquire equipment to minimize the environmental impact of aircraft firefighting foam containing toxic chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS.

[Above photo by the Colorado DOT]

The Colorado Aeronautical Board, which oversees the Colorado DOT’s Division of Aeronautics, approved $400,000 in state aviation funding to assist with this equipment swap effort – only the second such program in the nation – in collaboration with state airports and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

This effort comes amid an increasing environmental focus on PFAS chemicals, which pose challenges to drinking water reserves.

For example, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing in October to assess ongoing and proposed responses to the presence of PFAS chemicals in the environment, particularly in U.S. waters, by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Radhika Fox, the EPA’s assistant administrator for water, noted in her testimony at that hearing that a “growing body of scientific evidence” shows that exposure at certain levels to specific PFAS can adversely affect human and ecological health. Studies indicate that two common

PFAS – perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate – can cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals. Both chemicals also caused tumors in animal studies, she said. Fox added that the most consistent findings from human epidemiology studies are increased cholesterol levels among exposed populations as well as some cases where that chemical family affected birth weights, the immune system, caused cancers, and thyroid hormone disruption.

Currently, commercial service airports certified under Federal Aviation Administration regulations are required to use PFAS-based foam and to annually test and certify aircraft rescue firefighting equipment and the foam utilized.

Under the provisions of this new statewide aviation initiative, however, the Colorado Division of Aeronautics said in a statement that it provided 100 percent funding for the acquisition of specialized testing and containment equipment designed to allow FAA-compliant firefighting foam testing to take place without the need for regular foam discharges. 

In total, 12 eligible airports participated in the division’s program, with the exception of Denver International Airport, as it already had the equipment, and Colorado Springs Airport, where the U.S. Air Force provides aircraft rescue and firefighting services.