Climate Change and NEPA - A State DOT Impact Assessment

Focus Area

NEPA Process


Environmental Process




Under $99k


1-2 years

Research Idea Scope

State DOTs have measurably increased their participation
in the climate change, transportation asset, and environmental planning
linkage.  There is currently a national
policy movement to address these linkages and how they can be incorporated into
state DOT functions.  At the same time,
The Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ), Federal Highway Administration
(FHWA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
(AASHTO), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are developing guidance
that would contribute to modernizing the National Environmental Policy Act
(NEPA) process.  A natural next step in
this national conversation would be to also consider how climate change would
impact the NEPA process at the state DOT level.  


Some key research that is currently under development;


Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Carbon,
United States Government.  Technical
Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis, Under
Executive Order 12866, (May 2013).


Government Accountability Office (GAO).  Climate Change: Future Federal Adaptation
Efforts Could Better Support Local Infrastructure Decision Makers, (April


Preliminary Study of Climate Adaptation for the Statewide
Transportation System in Arizona.  ADOT
Research Center – Report 696, (March 2013).


SHRP2 C09 – Incorporating Greenhouse Gas Emissions Into
the Collaborative Decision-Making Process, (Feb 2011).


White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)
Guidance. Steps to Modernize and Reinvigorate NEPA, (2010).


White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)
Guidance. Draft Guidance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change
Impacts, (2010).


STEP 2010 Environmental Streamlining/Stewardship emphasis
area – Guidance on Considering Adaptation to Climate Change in Project
Development and Environmental Review, (still active).


FHWA/AASHTO Climate Change Adaptation Peer Exchange. ICF
International, Federal Highway Administration, (2009).


NCHRP 20-83(05): Climate Change and the Highway System:
Impacts and Adaptation Approaches, (still active).


Tasks – Four (4):


Task 1: Inventory state DOTs relevant guidance.


Task 2: Identify the climate change characteristics that
link to the NEPA process within the state DOT long term planning and project
development practices. 


Task 3: Identify the NEPA decision making framework
elements that would incorporate climate change – Purpose and Need,
Alternatives, Impacts, Mitigation, Public Involvement, Interagency
Coordination, Documentation.


Task 4: Develop and recommend approaches to formulating a
climate change / NEPA assessment into a state DOT process.

Urgency and Payoff

Contributes to building a qualitative compendium of individual state DOT NEPA process needs, impacts, and lessons learned. 

Suggested By

Steven Olmsted ADOT 602-712-6421

[email protected]