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Recent Developments

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This section describes recent developments related to transportation-related sustainability. If you would like to suggest a recent development on this topic, please submit a short description to AASHTO (including any pertinent links) on the Share Info with AASHTO form.

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Economic Potential of Low-Carbon Natural Gas Analyzed in New Report

The long-term economic potential of low-carbon natural gas (LCNG) within the transportation sector is explored in a report by the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis. The report addresses the use of LCNG, which includes methane from biomass and fossil gas mixed with hydrogen, in light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles. The report includes data concerning woody and herbaceous feedstocks to produce biogas to determine total resource potential for LCNG production and an analysis of projected transportation fuel demand. The report also analyzes emissions regarding a vehicle’s cumulative emissions on a per-mile-traveled basis and includes calculations for each LCNG pathway’s total cost. For more information, link to the report. (3-18-17) 

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EPA to Revisit Greenhouse Gas Standards for Light-Duty Vehicles

The U.S. Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency have announced that the EPA will reconsider a final determination regarding the midterm evaluation of greenhouse gas standards for light duty vehicles from model years 2022-2025. The previous determination found that automakers were well positioned to meet the standards at lower costs than previously estimated. The reconsideration will be coordinated with the parallel process to be undertaken by the DOT’s National Highway Transportation Administration regarding corporate average fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks for the same model years. EPA intends to make a new final determination regarding the appropriateness of the greenhouse gas standards by April 1, 2018. For more information, link to the EPA midterm evaluation website and to the notice. (3-15-17)

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Report Describes State of Global Electric Vehicle Markets

An analysis of global electric vehicle (EV) markets has been compiled by the International Council on Clean Transportation. The report highlights EV capitals in 14 metropolitan areas. It finds the top markets by electric vehicle share of new passenger vehicles are Oslo (27 percent), Utrecht (15 percent), Shanghai (11 percent), Shenzhen (10 percent), Amsterdam (10 percent ), and San Jose (9.4 percent). The report addresses financial and nonfinancial incentives, charging infrastructure, research and campaigns and transit and fleet as EV market drivers. The report also provides case studies with policy action and lifecycle emissions data tailored to each area. It indicates that future work must focus on increasing electric-powered car sharing, transit, and freight movement as technologies are advanced. For more information, link to the report. (3-11-17)

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Report Highlights Energy Needs of Changing Transportation Sector

The Department of Energy has issued a report concerning the changing transportation sector and its impact on energy consumption. The report focuses on the rise of the shared economy, increased urbanization, and pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and how these trends affect the need for energy-efficient, low carbon technologies for transportation. The report discusses incremental policy change, the prevalence of personal vehicle ownership and shared mobility vehicles in the future. The report also discusses the adoption of zero-emission vehicles; an increase in urban sprawl; increase in higher-occupancy vehicle trips; and a predominance of low-occupancy ridership. For more information, link to the report. (2-24-17)

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EPA Releases Draft of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks

The Environmental Protection Agency has released a draft of its annual inventory of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and sinks, which provides information by source, economic sector, and type of greenhouse gas. The report, which covers the period from 1990 to 2015, provides a comprehensive accounting of total greenhouse gas emissions for all man-made sources in the U.S. It is submitted to the United Nations in accordance with the Framework Convention on Climate Change. For more information, link to the draft report. (2-14-17)

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FHWA Extends Effective Date of Performance Measure Rules

The Federal Highway Administration has extended the effective dates of two final rules that established performance measures for the nation’s highway programs. The effective dates have been extended until March 21 to allow for review by the new administration. The delayed rules relate to assessing pavement and bridge conditions under the National Highway Performance Program, and assessing performance of freight movement and the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program.  The freight and CMAQ program rule also included the first-ever greenhouse gas measure for highways. For more information, link to the notice in the Feb. 13 Federal Register. (2-10-17)

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Study Evaluates Role of Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure to Grow Plug-In Market

A study on availability of public charging infrastructure for plug-in electric vehicles, including a forward-looking case study in Massachusetts, has been conducted by the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The study includes a literature review on PEV infrastructure, a case study focused on supporting 300,000 PEVs by 2025 in Massachusetts, and a discussion of a potential methodology for estimating economic impacts of PEV infrastructure growth. For more information, link to the study. (2-9-17)

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TRB Videos Describe Electric Vehicle Incentives

The Transportation Research Board has released a series of videos that highlight incentives to promote electric vehicle (EV) use. The videos provide a market update and address the need for EVs, the value of incentives and promotions and the importance of battery improvement to drive EV market growth. The videos include best practice examples of incentive programs in New York and Colorado and additional state policies and programs to provide policy recommendations for implementation. In addition, the videos describe incentives efforts in Sweden, focusing on the country’s fossil-fuel independent transport sector. For more information, link to the videos. (2-1-17)

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DOE Report Examines Possible Mobility Scenarios for Transportation

The Department of Energy has released a report that examines four possible mobility futures that could exist in 2050 and the positive and negative impacts these can have on energy consumption and the broader economy. The report, “The Transforming Mobility Ecosystem: Enabling an Energy-Efficient Future,” considers the two factors with the highest potential to transform the transportation sector: vehicle control (driver-only vs. fully automated self-driving) and vehicle ownership (personal ownership vs. fully shared). The report evaluates four possible futures emerging from the combination of these factors. For more information, link to the report. (1-27-17)

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National Academies Report on Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine has released a report on the social cost of climate change. The report includes several approaches to updating the current method of calculating the costs and benefits associated with changes in carbon dioxide emissions for its use in federal regulatory impact analysis. The report analyzes available science and how it would impact the choice of integrated assessment models and damage functions. The report also addresses the use of a socioeconomic module, climate module, damages module and a discounting module to calculate carbon costs. For more information, link to the report. (2-2-17)

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Final Programmatic Assessment of GHG Emissions from Transit Projects Issued

The Federal Transit Administration has released a final programmatic assessment for greenhouse gas emissions from transit projects. The assessment reports on whether certain types of proposed transit projects merit detailed analysis of their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the project level and provides a source of data and analysis for incorporation by reference in future environmental documents for projects. The assessment found that bus rapid transit and streetcar projects generally generate low levels of GHG emissions and that light rail projects and commuter rail projects with certain characteristics can reduce GHG emissions. For more information, link to the assessment. (11-17-16)

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FHWA Issues Report on National Alternative Fuel Corridors

The Federal Highway Administration has issued a report on the first round of designations for national alternative fuels corridors. The report, National Electric Vehicle Charging and Hydrogen, Propane, and Natural Gas Fueling Corridors, provides maps and narrative descriptions of the corridors—both “signage ready” and “signage pending” designations—for electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and vehicles that run on compressed natural gas, liquid natural gas, or propane. The report also describes the agency's goals for the corridors looking toward 2020, envisioning an alternative fueling network having the same consistency and convenience, reliability and performance, and coordination between the public and private sectors as the current system based on gasoline and diesel. For more information, link to the report. (1-13-17)

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EPA Updates State Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Projection Tools

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced an update to its state greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory and projection tools. The SIT is a spreadsheet designed to help states enter and update GHG inventories. The SIT is composed of 11 estimation modules with a top-down approach to GHG calculation and one module to provide aggregate estimates. The projection tool allows users to create a forecast of emissions through 2030 based on historical emissions and projections of future energy consumption, population and economic factors. A separate tool also is available to help project fossil fuel consumption. For more information, link to the tools. (1-13-17)

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FHWA Adopts GHG Performance Measure for Highways

The Federal Highway Administration has adopted a requirement for transportation agencies to measure greenhouse gas emissions for highways, including setting targets and reporting progress in achieving them. The rule establishes a requirement that state DOTs estimate the percent change in carbon dioxide emissions from 2017 levels on the National Highway System. The estimates will be based on annual fuel sales, emission conversion factors published by the Energy Information Agency, and the proportion of statewide vehicle miles traveled. Under the rule, all state DOTs and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) that have National Highway System roadways within their planning boundaries must establish carbon dioxide targets and report on progress toward attaining the goals. The agency included the greenhouse gas measure in its final rule assessing the performance and reliability of the National Highway System, the Interstate System, freight movement, and congestion-related air quality. For more information, link to the text of the rule. (1-10-17)

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NREL Details Consumer Views on Plug-In Electric Vehicles in Report

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has released a report detailing a survey of public sentiment toward issues related to plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). The report examines vehicle purchasing behavior independent of a particular vehicle technology, current consumer awareness and acceptance of PEV technologies, metrics associated with known barriers to PEV acceptance and segments of respondents in which PEV acceptance may be higher than the respondent group in total. Among other things, the study found that people aware of charging stations were more likely to view plug-in electric vehicles positively and be willing to consider purchasing them. For more information, link to the report. (12-30-17)

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Paper Estimates Cost for U.S. to Transition to Electric Vehicles by 2035

The UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies has published a paper estimating the cost for the United States to transition to electric drive vehicles by 2035. The paper finds that the new capital investments in chargers and refueling station infrastructure could total $300-$600 billion. The paper finds that these investments and subsidies will be a relatively small share of the total projected U.S. consumer spending on new vehicles and fuels and could be paid for with fees on new vehicle sales and a small increase in fuel taxes. For more information, link to the paper. (12-28-16)

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DOE Awards $18 Million for Propane, Plug-In Electric Vehicles

The Department of Energy has announced awards of $18 million for projects aimed to accelerate the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles and other alternative fuels. Projects  include the development of plug-in hybrid work trucks, plug-in electric school buses, and a propane direct injection engine and emission control system that will be demonstrated on a delivery vehicle. Projects also include the development of electric highway corridors along Interstates 15, 70, 80, and 84 in Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming, and multi-fuel stations (including electric, compressed natural gas, biofuel, and propane stations) along I-94 in Michigan. For more information, link to the DOE announcement. (12-21-2016)

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DOE Allocates $15 Million for Energy Efficient Transportation Technologies

The Department of Energy has announced the availability of $15 million for state and local governments and their private partners to accelerate the adoption of advanced and alternative fuel vehicles through Clean Cities or Smart Cities-type projects. Projects may include the increased deployment of alternative fuel vehicles, the enhancement of new mobility systems, and the planning for and construction of alternative fuel infrastructure such as charging stations. The funding also would be available for projects that demonstrate connected and/or automated vehicle technologies that reduce energy consumption. The projects will be used to collect and share best practices and lessons learned. A webinar for applicants is scheduled for Jan. 12, 2017. For more information, link to the DOE announcement. (12-21-2016)

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DOE to Use Nearly $20 Million to Fund Energy Efficient Transportation

The Department of Energy has announced $19.7 million to support the research and development of advanced vehicle technologies, including batteries, lightweight materials and advanced combustion engines, and innovative technologies for energy efficient mobility. The DOE seeks to fund projects in four areas of interest that apply to light, medium and heavy-duty on-road vehicles; energy efficient mobility; and transportation infrastructure systems. For more information, link to the press release. (12-14-16)

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FHWA Newsletter Highlights Air Quality and Climate Change News

The Federal Highway Administration has published the October/November 2016 newsletter highlighting air quality and climate change news. The newsletter includes information on the updated interim guidance on mobile source air toxics analysis in NEPA documents, the designation of alternative fuel corridors, the updated greenhouse gas emission reduction policy analysis tool, INVEST case studies, recordings and the congestion mitigation and air quality improvement program emission reductions calculator. The newsletter also lists upcoming meetings, conferences, workshops, training opportunities and deadlines. For more information, link to the newsletter. (11-29-16)

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FTA Releases Programmatic Assessment of GHG Emissions from Transit Projects

The Federal Transit Administration has released the Draft Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Transit Projects: Programmatic Assessment. The assessment reports on whether certain types of proposed transit projects merit detailed analysis of their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the project level and provides a source of data and analysis for reference in future environmental documents for projects. The assessment found that bus rapid transit and streetcar projects generally generate low levels of GHG emissions and that light rail projects and commuter rail projects with certain characteristics can result in a reduction in GHG emissions. For more information, link to the assessment. (11-17-16)

 

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TRB Releases Transportation Energy Data Book: Edition 35

The Transportation Research Board has released the Transportation Energy Data Book: Edition 35, which is a statistical compendium focused on information that characterizes transportation activity and factors that influence transportation energy use. The data book focuses on various aspects of the transportation industry, including petroleum, energy, various vehicle types including alternative fuel vehicles, nonhighway modes, greenhouse gas emissions and criteria pollutant emissions. For more information, link to the data book. (11/16/16)

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Energy Department Awards $32 Million For Connected, Automated Vehicle Efficiency

The Department of Energy, Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), has announced $32 million in funding for 10 projects as part of the Next-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Autonomous On-Road Vehicles (NEXTCAR) Program. The program enables technologies that use connectivity and automation to co-optimize vehicle dynamic controls and powertrain operation to reduce energy consumption of the vehicle. The selected projects build upon connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies to enhance vehicle safety, add driving convenience and ultimately reduce vehicle energy use. Projects were selected from states such as California, Indiana, and Michigan to develop mobile cloud computing centers, test vehicle-powertrain eco-operation system for natural-gas-fueled plug-in hybrid electric buses and improve various other aspects of CAV technologies. For more information, link to the press release. (11-2-16)

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Federal Guidance Released on Electric Vehicle Charging Stations for Federal Workers

The Office of Federal Sustainability has released guidance on the installation, operation and maintenance of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging stations for privately owned PEVs in parking areas used by federal employees and authorized users. The document, Guidance for Federal Agency Implementation of Workplace Charging Pursuant to the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act: Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment, also provides an approach for a uniform fee for the use of existing and new alternating current Level 1 charging receptacles. For more information, link to the guidance. (10-19-16)

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FHWA Announces Webinars on CEQ’s Climate Change Guidance

The Federal Highway Administration has announced two webinars to provide overviews of the Council on Environmental Quality’s Final Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Effects of Climate Change in National Environmental Policy Act Reviews. The guidance provides a framework for agencies to consider both the effects of a proposed action on climate change and the effects of climate change on a proposed action. The webinars are scheduled for Sept. 30 and Oct. 4, 2016. The webinars will cover the same material. For more information, link to FHWA's climate adaptation webpage. (9-20-16)

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Featured Case Study

  • Case Study Photo

    The Vermont Agency of Transportation is installing solar projects to offset its energy use, such as this solar array at the Rutland Airport.

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