Environmental News Highlights – December 15, 2021


AASHTO Re:source Podcast Examines the IIJA – AASHTO Journal

WH has new slogan on infrastructure, but message the same – AP

FACT SHEET: President Biden Signs Executive Order Catalyzing America’s Clean Energy Economy Through Federal Sustainability – White House (Media release)

MARAD Announces $12.6 Million in Grants for America’s Marine Highways – MARAD (Media release)

FACT SHEET: The Biden-⁠Harris Electric Vehicle Charging Action PlanThe White House (Media release)



US Supreme Court dismisses challenge to air travel mask mandate – Jurist

Near pre-pandemic travel volumes expected to continue through December holidays – TSA (Media release)


A Conversation With Connecticut DOT Commissioner Joe GuiliettiTaking Transportation blog

Oklahoma secretary of transportation tempers expectations for funding boost from bipartisan infrastructure deal – KWGS Radio

TikTok Influencer and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg Break Down Build Back Better AgendaTeen Vogue

Alaska Governor, DOT Commissioner Announce AMHS Infrastructure Plan – Alaska Governor’s Office (Media release)

UNH Research Finds Future Snowmelt Could Have Costly Consequences on Infrastructure – University of New Hampshire (Media release)


Union Pacific Railroad Works to Cut Its Carbon Emissions – AP

Whitmer Executive Directive: Electric Cars And Clean Energy Jobs – WBCK Radio

Skagway works to pioneer one of the first electric ferry programs in the country – KHNS Radio

Biden praises Kansas City’s free electric buses as the future of infrastructure – KCUR Radio

FAA research grants aim to tackle aviation’s massive deficit of greener fuel – CNBC

California truckers could soon have to worry about pollution tickets along with speeding tickets – KFSN-TV

Seattle, Tacoma Ports Plan to Phase Out Maritime Emissions – Maritime Logistics Professional

Oregon Joins Other Western States With Electric Truck Rules – Government Technology


The problem and potential of Oakland’s parks – Oaklandside

Better Ways for FTA to Measure Transit Equity – TransitCenter (Commentary)


Houston-based flood warning system to bring life-saving alerts to Southeast drivers during severe weather events – KBMT-TV

A northern extension of the Florida Turnpike is moving ahead, despite public opposition – WMFE Radio

Farmers Embrace State-Federal Partnerships to Protect Water Quality – American Farm Bureau Federation


Expansion of U.S. Bicycle Route System Continues – AASHTO Journal

FDOT focuses on pedestrian safety – West Volusia Beacon

Northwest Arkansas receives 9 grants for trails, sidewalks – KFSM

More cities are embracing scooters, e-bikes. This urban planner sees growth in shared mobility. – Washington Post

IDOT meeting will study pedestrian, bicycle accommodations on Bob Michel Bridge – WEEK-TV

CTDOT Announces Launch Of Vision Zero Council Website For Traffic Safety Information And An Invitation For Public Engagement – Connecticut DOT (Media release)


Resource Guide for Improving Diversity and Inclusion Programs for the Public Transportation Industry – TRB


Revised Definition of ‘‘Waters of the United States’’ – Corps of Engineers and EPA (Proposed rule)

Notice of Availability of a Final General Conformity Determination for the California High-Speed Rail System, Burbank to Los Angeles Section – FRA (Notice)

Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program – FRA (Notice)

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Committee Notice of Public Meetings National Park Service (Notice)

Request for Nominations for the National Park System Advisory Board – National Park Service (Notice)

Public Hearing for RFS Annual Rules – EPA (Notice)

AASHTO Comments on Proposed Migratory Bird Permit Rule

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials is “generally supportive” of a rule proposed in October by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to develop a national migratory bird “incidental take mechanism” that also provides “flexibility” to state departments of transportation as construction seasons and bird breeding seasons vary across the country.

[Above photo of migratory swans by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers]

The proposed rule regards the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which protects migratory bird species between the United States and Canada. That law makes it unlawful without a waiver from the USFWS to “pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, or sell” nearly 1,100 species of birds listed with the statute and does not discriminate between live or dead birds. It also grants full protection to any bird parts including feathers, eggs, and nests.

AASHTO stressed in a December 3 letter to the USFWS in a letter that it is desirable “to have a mechanism that allows state DOTs to propose bird management timeframes and best management practices” to limit migratory bird take.

AASHTO added that state DOTs do not support a general conservation fee as part of the transportation permitting process when migratory birds are involved. However, the organization noted that an “in-lieu fee approach” for individual transportation projects with unavoidable impacts could make sense depending on the details.

Utility Coalition Seeks to Build National EV Charging Network

The newly formed National Electric Highway Coalition – consisting of 51 investor-owned electric companies, an electric cooperative, and the Tennessee Valley Authority – seeks to build a national network of electric vehicle or EV fast-charging ports to allow the public to drive EVs with confidence along major U.S. travel corridors by the end of 2023.

[Above photo by USDOT]

That coalition, led by the Edison Electric Institute, estimates that the country will need more than 100,000 EV fast-charging ports to support some 22 million EVs expected to operate on U.S. roads in 2030. EEI added that its member companies have invested more than $3 billion in EV charging infrastructure projects and related customer programs to date.

“By merging and expanding the existing efforts underway to build fast-charging infrastructure along major travel corridors, we are building a foundational EV charging network that will help to encourage more customers to purchase an electric vehicle,” explained Tom Kuhn, EEI’s president, in a statement. “With the formation of the National Electric Highway Coalition, we are committed to investing in and providing the charging infrastructure necessary to facilitate electric vehicle growth and to helping alleviate any remaining customer range anxiety.”

“Addressing issues such as grid resiliency, energy demands for charging, and equitable rollout of charging infrastructure will be an integral part of a successful future for EVs in America,” added John Bozzella, president and CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation.

“The National Electric Highway Coalition will support the EV transition by facilitating electric power industry engagement in transportation electrification across the country,” he said. “Electric companies, which are regulated by state commissions, can help leverage all funding sources, help fill the infrastructure gaps, and help manage the deployment of these chargers with a long-term view.”

Several state departments of transportation are involved in similar EV recharging efforts.

For example, an initiative launched in September to develop the nation’s first electric vehicle or EV wireless charging infrastructure on a public road is gearing up in Michigan – and the Michigan Department of Transportation will play a critical role in this new project.

The Inductive Vehicle Charging Pilot is a partnership between the Michigan Department of Transportation and the state’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification that plans to deploy an electrified roadway system that would allow electric-powered buses, shuttles, and personal vehicles to recharge their battery systems while driving – enabling EVs to operate continuously without stopping to recharge.

In February, the California Department of Transportation finished installing 22 new “fast-charging” stations for EVs at nine locations along the state’s highway network.

The agency said the 22 Level 3 DC fast chargers deployed as part of this $4.5 million project provide an approximate 80 percent charge in 30 minutes to EVs with fast-charging capability. The units also feature “universal connectors” so they can re-charge all EVs on the market, including Teslas, with an adapter. Charging is free with no time limit, Caltrans added.