November 08, 2017

Cardin, Blumenauer Lead Over Four Dozen Colleagues Urging the Trump Administration to Reinstate Greenhouse Gas Reporting Requirements for State and Regional Highway Planners

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), with Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) led 49 colleagues Wednesday in sending a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao urging the Trump Administration to reinstate the greenhouse gas emissions rule allowing state and local transportation agencies to plan for the future by tracking this climate pollution from vehicles on certain roadways and setting goals for reducing them.

The Members of Congress voiced strong opposition to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s proposed rule repealing the national performance measure on carbon pollution from tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions on the National Highway System, also known as the “GHG measure.” “The GHG measure requires that state and local officials provide consistent information to measure carbon pollution from on-road mobile sources and set performance-based targets to find unique solutions that work for their regions,” the Members wrote in their letter.

“Public health demands that we continue down a path of reducing climate pollution rather than allowing for piecemeal regression across the country,” Senator Cardin said, expanding on the letter. “The transportation sector is now the largest source of climate pollution in the U.S.—surpassing the electricity sector for the first time.” On-road transportation constitutes 28% of the total GHG emissions in Maryland,[1] a state that has acted by adopting more stringent vehicle emissions standards.

“We can’t afford to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the transportation sector’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions” said Representative Blumenauer. “Secretary Chao should follow the spirit of the law and allow communities to understand the steps needed to reduce greenhouse gases on our roadways.”

National Resources Defense Council’s Senior Policy Advisor, Deron Lovaas, added: “This commonsense rule would deliver cleaner air at low cost while boosting transparency and accountability. It’s time for DOT to stop stalling, follow the law, and get to work.”

Both Cardin and Blumenauer represent states that are acting on climate change. In their letter, the Congress Members stressed that the bipartisan surface transportation bill, The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or MAP-21, established a national program for state departments of transportation (DOTs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to invest resources that will enable progress toward seven national performance goals. One of the goals established in MAP-21 is environmental sustainability. In their letter, the Members wrote, “Repealing the GHG measure inhibits the ability of decision-makers to properly make progress toward this national goal.”

The Members urged Secretary Chao to reconsider the proposed rulemaking, writing, “As we plan for the demands of a transportation system that is expected to have 70 million more people and nearly 50% more freight volume by 2045, a GHG performance measure is critical for State DOTs and MPOs to accurately determine the type of investments needed …We urge you to reconsider your proposed rulemaking and allow State DOTs and MPOs to fully understand and plan for the transportation challenges of the future,” the Members wrote.

Members of Congress joining Cardin and Blumenauer include: Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-Ore.), Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Albio Sires (D-N.J.), Daniel W. Lipinski (D-Ill.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), James R. Langevin (D-R.I.), and Salud O. Carbajal (D-Calif.).

The full text of the letter is below and at this link.

November 8, 2017

 

The Honorable Elaine Chao

Secretary

U.S. Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE

Washington, DC 20590

 

Dear Secretary Chao:

We write in strong opposition to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s proposed rule repealing the national performance measure on carbon pollution from tailpipe greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on the National Highway System (Docket No. FHWA-2017-0025), also known as the “GHG measure.” The GHG measure requires that state and local officials provide consistent information to measure carbon pollution from on-road mobile sources and set performance-based targets to find unique solutions that work for their regions.

One of the hallmarks of “The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (Pub. L. 112-41), or MAP-21, was the establishment of a national performance- and outcome-based program for State Departments of Transportation (State DOTs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to invest resources that will enable progress toward seven national performance goals. One of the goals established in MAP-21 is environmental sustainability, which seeks “to enhance the performance of the transportation system while protecting and enhancing the natural environment.” Repealing the GHG measure inhibits the ability of decision makers to properly make progress toward this national goal.

As you know, the transportation sector is one of the largest and fastest-growing sources of GHG emissions in the United States, responsible for nearly 30% of the United States’ total emissions. On-road vehicles account for over 80% of transportation emissions, a share that will continue to increase given that low gas prices are expected to prevail and vehicle miles traveled are expected to increase. As we plan for the demands of a transportation system that is expected to have 70 million more people and nearly 50% more freight volume by 2045, a GHG performance measure is critical for State DOTs and MPOs to accurately determine the type of investments needed. Without this measure, State DOTs and MPOs will be planning based on an incomplete picture of the system.

We urge you to reconsider your proposed rulemaking and allow State DOTs and MPOs to fully understand and plan for the transportation challenges of the future. Thank you and best regards.

Sincerely yours, 

###