Statement: New federal rule would help tackle country’s largest source of global warming pollution: transportation

Media Contacts
Lisa Frank

Executive Director, Environment America; Vice President and D.C. Director, The Public Interest Network

Taran Volckhausen

Former Communications Associate, The Public Interest Network

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s administration announced a notice of proposed rulemaking on Thursday to address the climate impact of the nation’s transportation system. The rule, proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), will require state transportation departments and ​​metropolitan planning organizations to report the carbon dioxide emissions of vehicles traveling on their respective sections of the federal highway system, and to set declining yearly emissions targets. The public will have 90 days to comment on the proposed rule.

The United States transportation sector is the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for around 27% of annual emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This rule aims to provide taxpayers, advocates, and decision-makers a clearer picture of how transportation investments impact pollution.

States will have access to $27 billion in funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to build institutional capacity for greenhouse gas measurement and to implement projects that will help them hit their emissions reductions goals. State transportation departments will report emissions through the same mechanism that they do for safety, roadway conditions and other metrics.

In response, Lisa Frank, executive director of Environment America’s Washington Legislative Office, issued the following statement:

“As Americans brace ourselves for another hotter-than-usual summer, it’s encouraging that the Biden administration is taking aim at our largest source of global warming pollution: transportation. We know what’s needed to reduce these emissions. States and municipalities can expand transit and make our streets safe for walking and biking. They can install electric vehicle charging and create incentives for consumers to buy electric vehicles, so that when we do need to drive, we aren’t driving climate change. And what’s more, states have unprecedented funding from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to make these changes to our transportation system. 

“Although these changes are necessary to tackle climate change, the improvements to our lives don’t stop there. From reducing deadly air pollution and traffic deaths to saving us money at the pump and helping us enjoy more time with family or outdoors, giving people more and cleaner travel options will make us healthier, happier and allow us to live our lives better.”

Sam Little, PIRG Transportation advocate, issued the following statement:

“While the transportation sector is the United States’ largest source of global warming pollution, it is also ripe for innovation and carbon emissions reduction. With the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to push for transportation emissions cuts, leading the country to a cleaner future and a more stable climate. 

“However, we won’t know how far we’ve come unless we have a national framework for measurement. The DOT’s proposed greenhouse gas emissions rule is a crucial step towards reeling in our transportation emissions and bringing transparency and accountability to state projects.

“In 2017, U.S. PIRG, together with NRDC and Southern Environmental Law Center sued the Federal Highway Administration to protect a similar greenhouse gas emissions rule. Five years of advocacy later, we are encouraged that this rule may soon be reinstated alongside declining emissions targets. We applaud Sec. Buttigieg and President Biden on their leadership and hope this encourages states to make forward-thinking transportation choices.”