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Energy/Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Recent Developments Archive

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CEQ Issues Final Guidance on Considering Climate Change under NEPA

Potential impacts of federal actions on greenhouse gas emissions, or impacts from climate change on federal actions, should be taken into account under the National Environmental Policy Act, according to final guidance issued by the White House Council on Environmental Quality. The guidance urges agencies to quantify an action's projected direct and indirect GHG emissions, taking into account available data and suitable GHG quantification tools. It also recommends that agencies use projected GHG emissions as a proxy for assessing potential climate change effects when preparing a NEPA analysis for a proposed agency action. For more information, link to the final guidance. (8-2-16)

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FHWA Fact Sheet Addresses Climate Change Impacts on EJ Populations

The Federal Highway Administration has released a fact sheet that provides federal, state and local transportation agencies tools to address potential negative impacts of climate change on environmental justice populations. The fact sheet discusses mitigation strategies such as integrated land-use planning and improving the quantity and quality of public transit service. It also provides information on case studies, pilot projects and other resources to ensure that climate action strategies benefit environmental justice communities. For more information, link to the fact sheet. (7-6-16)

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ARTBA Releases Model Statutory Language for Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Fees

The American Road and Transportation Builders Association has developed model statutory language to raise state transportation revenues through registration fees on electric and hybrid electric vehicles. The language, developed by members of ARTBA’s Investment Advocacy Center™ Council, provides legislators and transportation advocates the ability to craft legislation to enact user fees for such vehicles. Ten states have enacted statutes to raise transportation revenue from electric vehicle registration fees, the report said. For more information, link to the report. (6-23-16) 

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National Laboratory Publishes Drive Electric Vermont Case Study

The Idaho National Laboratory has published a case study on Drive Electric Vermont. The study is part of an effort to examine existing barriers and opportunities for small and midsize communities attempting to take part in the plug-in vehicle (PEV) market and benefit from PEV’s economic and environmental advantages. The study determined what activities are most effective for encouraging the acquisition of PEVs and deployment of charging infrastructure in small to midsize communities. The study also evaluated the prioritizing and sequencing of implementation, identifying a means for extrapolation and applying this to other such communities. For more information, link to the case study. (5-18-16)

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FHWA Releases Report on Renewable Energy Projects on Highway Rights-of-Way

The Federal Highway Administration has released a report examining renewable energy projects on highway rights-of-way (ROW). The report specifies how highway ROW renewable energy projects can add value to ROW assets and create a revenue source for state department of transportation. Such efforts also can reduce emissions, promote energy security and foster a local green job market. The report also examines potential business models, funding sources and applicable federal and state regulatory requirements. For more information, see the report. (5-19-16)

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FHWA Seeks Input for Alternative Fuel Vehicle Corridors

The Federal Highway Administration is soliciting input on designation of alternative fuel corridors on major national highways, launching the effort with two national webinars. The FHWA must designate by December national transportation corridors that provide vehicle charging and fueling infrastructure to improve the mobility of passenger and freight vehicles that use electric, hydrogen fuel cell, propane and natural gas fuel technologies. For more information, access the May 2016 FHWA webinar recordings and presentations. (5-16-16)

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Tool Evaluates Costs, Benefits of Alternative Fuels

The Argonne Laboratory, in partnership with the Department of Energy, has announced a new release of the Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) Tool. The tool examines both environmental and economic costs and benefits of alternative fuel and advanced vehicles. The tool uses data from Argonne's Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation fuel-cycle model to generate necessary well-to-wheels petroleum use and GHG emission coefficients for key fuel production pathways and vehicle types. For more information, link to the article. (5-13-16)

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Energy Department Analyzes Emissions from Electric Vehicle Charging

The Department of Energy has released a report on emissions from electric vehicle charging. The report includes an analysis of the degree to which electricity grid profile, vehicle type and charging patterns impact carbon dioxide emissions from light-duty and plug-in electric vehicles. The analysis is based on four charging scenarios and five electricity grid profiles, indicating that restricting charging to off-peak hours results in higher total emissions for all vehicle types. For more information, link to the report (5-4-16)

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FTA Publishes Update to GHG and Energy Program Report

The Federal Transit Administration has issued an addendum to the second assessment report on the Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) Program. The TIGGER Program provides capital funds to transit agencies for projects that reduce agencies’ energy use and/or greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from their operations. The first assessment report provided a framework of the program and the status of the program’s implementation while the second assessment report focused on the current status and early results of energy and GHG emissions saving strategies. The addendum to the second assessment report describes the impacts of the completed projects toward meeting the overall programs goals using data collected through Dec. 2014. For more information, link to the report. (4-27-16)

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Caltrans Uses Technology to Capture Solar Energy in Transportation Infrastructure

The California DOT is exploring the use of SolaRoad, a Dutch technology that utilizes solar panels in roadway projects. SolaRoad uses sunlight falling on the road’s surface and converts this energy into electricity to power street lights, traffic systems, electric vehicles and households. Caltrans will apply the technology at a maintenance rest area in Lebec along Interstate 5 in Kern County. These efforts will help the state reach its established greenhouse gas reduction and sustainable energy goals for 2030. For more information, link to the announcement. (03-29-16)

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Hawaii DOT Announces Installation of LED Lighting in Highway Systems

Hawaii DOT, in partnership with Johnson Controls, is providing light emitting diode (LED) equipment for its highway systems in its Oahu and Maui districts. The state is replacing a total of 20,000 highway and tunnel fixtures and more than 5,200 interior and parking lot fixtures with LED lights. The project is estimated to reduce annual energy use by 43.4 percent and provide $126 million in energy cost savings. The initiative helps support the states commitment to the Department of Energy’s Performance Contracting Accelerator Program as well as its own Highways Energy Savings Program. Installation will be completed by June 30, 2017. For more information, link to the announcement. (3-29-16)

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Volpe Develops New Tool to Evaluate Alternative Fuel Transport Options

The Volpe National Transportation Systems Center has developed a tool to analyze the transportation needs and constraints associated with fuel and raw material collection, processing and distribution in the continental U.S. The tool is a flexible scenario-testing tool designed to analyze a variety of commodities, datasets and assumptions and uses a unique intermodal network constructed from private and public data sources on truck, rail, water and pipeline links. The tool will be provided to the Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies to test various fuel transportation scenarios and their impact on the nation’s transportation system. For more information, see Volpe's AFTO webpage. (3-23-16)


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Department of Energy Announces the Launch of the SuperTruck II Initiative

The Department of Energy has announced $80 million in funding for the SuperTruck II initiative to encourage research, development and demonstration of long-haul tractor-trailer truck technology. The initiative also includes an additional $12 million to finance three new projects focused on plug-in electric powertrain for medium- and heavy-duty vehicle technology research. SuperTruck II will provide affordable fuel-saving technologies for truck operators by achieving improvements in engine and drivetrain efficiency, aerodynamic drag, tire rolling resistance and vehicle weight for Class 8 trucks. For more information, link to the announcement and related INFOGRAPHIC (3-1-16)

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The International Transport Forum Announces Decarbonising Transport Project

The International Transport Forum is launching a new project to focus on the mitigation of CO2 emissions resulting from fuel combustion. The Decarbonising Transport Project includes the creation of a comprehensive model of global transport activity data, allowing policymakers to calibrate their emissions reduction actions and create a tool to understand the impact of individual actions. The project will aid in facilitating dialogue and learning among various stakeholders to ultimately design a roadmap towards carbon-neutral transport. For more information, link to Decarbonising Transport: ITF launches major new project (3-1-16)

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FHWA Data Shows Record Amount of Vehicle Miles Traveled in 2015

The Federal Highway Administration has released data showing that U.S. drivers drove for 3.148 trillion miles in 2015. This beats the previous record set in 2007, when U.S. drivers drove 3.003 trillion miles. The data also shows that the seasonally-adjusted vehicle miles traveled for December 2015 was a record 268.5 billion miles, suggesting that even when adjusting for holiday travel on both a year-to-year and month-to-month basis, road travel has achieved a new record level. The data were released in the December 2015 edition of the “Traffic Volume Trends” report, a monthly estimate of U.S. road travel. For more information, see the report (2-22-16)

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FHWA Updates Climate Mitigation Questions and Answers Fact Sheet

The Federal Highway Administration has updated its Questions and Answers fact sheet on Climate Mitigation.  It provides information on the primary greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, regulatory requirements for GHG emissions, how state transportation agencies and metropolitan planning organizations integrate climate change considerations into their transportation planning processes, and FHWA tools and resources that are available to analyze transportation GHG emissions and reduction strategies. It also includes examples of GHG analyses for transportation plans, projects and programs from California, New York, Massachusets, Washington, and Oregon. For more information, see the fact sheet. (2-8-16)

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Climate Change Adaptation Guide Developed for Systems Management, Operations, Maintenance

The Federal Highway Administration has issued a primer to help to help transportation systems management, operations and maintenance staff incorporate climate change into their planning and ongoing activities.  The goal of the guide is to increase understanding of the risks that climate change poses and increase resilience through actions that can help reduce those risks.  Contents include the context and rationale for adapting to climate change; what already is being done; how to integrate climate change adaptation into existing programs ; and steps to get started with the process. For more information, link to Climate Change Adaptation Guide for Transportation Systems Management, Operations, and Maintenance: A Primerand related technical staff briefing presentation, and executive briefing presentation.  (2-10-16)

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Energy Department Announces Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Funding

The Department of Energy has announced that $55 million of funding is available for projects using vehicle technologies like energy storage, electric drive systems, fuels and lubricants and advanced combustion. He cited two innovative projects – at CALSTART and the National Association of Regional Councils – that will receive $3 million to support their development of systems that enable companies to buy fuel-efficient vehicles in bulk and develop associated infrastructure. He also released a report highlighting the successes of DOE’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program. For more information, see the announcement. (1-21-16)

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Virginia DOT Issues Report, Specification Document on LED Lighting

The Virginia Department of Transportation has issued a report on highway lighting that uses light-emitting diode technology. The report details the testing of six types of roadway luminaires in the laboratory and in the field over a two-year period. The study found that the LED lighting has superior performance as compared to high-pressure sodium lights, with minimal average light loss and a positive return on investment due to savings on maintenance and energy costs. VDOT also has issued the VDOT LED Roadway Luminaire Specification. For more information, link to Assessment of the Performance of Light-Emitting Diode Roadway Lighting Technology. (1-9-16)

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EPA Reports on Light-duty Auto C02 Emissions, Fuel Economy Trends Since 1975

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a report on light-duty automotive technology, carbon dioxide emissions, and fuel economy trends from 1975 through 2015. The report includes final data from 2014 and preliminary data from 2015. For model year 2014, the fleetwide average CO2 emissions rate for new vehicles is 366 grams per mile, the same as in model year 2013. The model year 2014 fuel economy value is 24.3 mpg, also unchanged from model year 2013. Preliminary model year 2015 adjusted values are 360 grams per mile CO2 emissions and 24.7 mpg fuel economy, which, if achieved, will represent record levels and an improvement over model year 2014. EPA cautioned that final data for 2015 may change, particularly because of declining gasoline prices as well as adjustments that may be required because of Volkswagen’s alleged emissions reporting violations. For more information, link to the report. (1-4-16)

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Report Details Management of Batteries from Electric Vehicles in North America

A report from the Commission for Environmental Cooperation report describes the types, quantities, and composition of batteries used in electric vehicles in North America and outlines best practices and technologies to support their environmentally sound management at end of life. Although current infrastructure to handle end-of-life EV batteries is limited, it is expected to expand over time. A promising second-life use of such batteries as energy storage units is being explored. For more information, link to the report. (1-6-16)

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FHWA Releases Climate Change and Transportation Infographic

The Federal Highway Administration has posted an infographic showing the importance of taking action early to plan for infrastructure resilience and to cut transportation greenhouse gas emissions. The infographic summarizes actions that state and regional transportation agencies can take. It describes emissions mitigation strategies, including alternative fuels and vehicle efficiency, travel efficiency, and system efficiency, as well as climate adaptation strategies. Climate adaptation strategies include vulnerability assessment, transportation planning, incorporating climate risk in engineering design, and enhancing operations, maintenance, and emergency preparedness. For more information, link to the graphic. (12-31-15)

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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.

    Read Case Study >Photo: Vermont Agency of Transportation

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