February 10, 2021

Cardin, Blumenauer Call on Transportation Secretary to Reinstate Limits on Tailpipe Emissions

Bicameral letter highlights need to integrate climate change and environmental justice impacts into transportation decisions and investments

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.-3) and 45 of their colleagues, including Senate Environment and Public Works Chair Tom Carper (D-Del.) and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.-4), are urging U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to prioritize consideration of climate change in transportation policy. They urge the Secretary to implement a national performance measure on greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. Senator Cardin is a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee and Congressman Blumenauer is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

“We cannot effectively solve the climate crisis or its negative environmental justice outcomes without reducing emissions from transportation, and we cannot make progress toward emissions reductions without a program to measure and report on performance. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration took us in the wrong direction by repealing the GHG measure rule in 2018. We urge you to move quickly to reinstate the measure and empower State DOTs and MPOs to make well-informed decisions and plans,” the lawmakers wrote.

“In addition to reinstating the GHG measure for tailpipe emissions, we hope that some of your first steps on climate change as Secretary of Transportation will improve the methods and procedures for accounting for the climate and environmental justice impacts of our transportation decisions and investments,” they added. “For too long, our decision-making processes have failed to thoroughly or accurately consider infrastructure projects’ impacts on land use development and induced travel demand, leading to projects that create more congestion, induce more driving, increase overall pollution with higher concentrations in communities of color, and produce other adverse consequences. We urge you to use your leadership of the Department of Transportation to upgrade outdated approaches and refine our evaluations of infrastructure alternatives.

The letter follows and can be found at this link. In addition to Cardin, Blumenauer, Carper and DeFazio, the letter was signed by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), as well as Representatives Alma S. Adams  Ph.D., (D-N.C.-12),Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.-1), Julia Brownley (D-Calif.-26), André Carson (D-Ind.-7), Sean Casten (D-Ill.-6), Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-Mo.-5), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.-9), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.-5), Sharice L. Davids (D-Kan.-3), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.-11), Suzan K. DelBene (D-Wash.-1), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.-13), Bill Foster (D-Ill.-11), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.-3), Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.-20), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.-2), Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.-2), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.-47), Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.-8), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.-4), Gwen S. Moore (D-Wisc.-4), Marie Newman (D-Ill.-3), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Chellie Pingree (D-Maine-1), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.-7), Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.-1), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.-9), Albio Sires (D-N.J.-8), Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.-2), Mike Thompson (D-Calif.-5), Dina Titus (D-Nev.-1), Paul D. Tonko (D-N.Y.-20), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.-23), Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Judy Chu (D-Calif.-27).

 

February 9, 2021

The Honorable Pete Buttigieg

Secretary

U.S. Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Ave. SE

Washington, D.C. 20590

Dear Secretary Buttigieg:

Congratulations on your confirmation as Secretary of Transportation. We look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead to improve our nation’s transportation system toward multiple goals related to the climate crisis, safety, jobs, and economic opportunity.

We applaud President Biden’s emphasis on addressing climate change and the ability for federal transportation policies to create jobs while also reducing carbon pollution. We write to encourage this work and ask that you urgently restore the national performance measure on carbon pollution from tailpipe greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on the National Highway System (the “GHG measure”) that the Trump Administration repealed in 2018. Last Congress, the House demonstrated its support by including a requirement for a similar GHG performance measure in H.R. 2, the “Moving Forward Act”.

First promulgated in 2017 pursuant to MAP-21’s performance management requirements, the GHG measure would have required state and local officials to provide consistent information on the percent change in tailpipe carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the reference year 2017. Officials were then required to set performance-based targets and regionally appropriate solutions to achieve these targets.[1]

As you know, transportation is now the largest source of greenhouse gases in the United States, responsible for nearly 30% of our nation’s total emissions.[2] On-road vehicles account for over 80% of transportation emissions, a share that will continue to increase with low gas prices.[3] By 2045 our transportation system is expected to support 70 million more users and nearly 50% more freight volume.

We cannot effectively solve the climate crisis or its negative environmental justice outcomes without reducing emissions from transportation, and we cannot make progress toward emissions reductions without a program to measure and report on performance. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration took us in the wrong direction by repealing the GHG measure rule in 2018. We urge you to move quickly to reinstate the measure and empower State DOTs and MPOs to make well-informed decisions and plans.

In addition to reinstating the GHG measure for tailpipe emissions, we hope that some of your first steps on climate change as Secretary of Transportation will improve the methods and procedures for accounting for the climate and environmental justice impacts of our transportation decisions and investments. For too long, our decision-making processes have failed to thoroughly or accurately consider infrastructure projects’ impacts on land use development and induced travel demand, leading to projects that create more congestion, induce more driving, increase overall pollution with higher concentrations in communities of color, and produce other adverse consequences. We urge you to use your leadership of the Department of Transportation to upgrade outdated approaches and refine our evaluations of infrastructure alternatives.

Thank you for your attention to this request. We look forward to collaborating with you on this important issue.

Sincerely,

 

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