NEW STRATEGIES FOR REDUCING TRANSPORTATION EMISSIONS AND PREPARING FOR CLIMATE IMPACTS.

Author:Arroyo, Vicki
 
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Introduction 920 I. Background 922 II. Federal and State Policies That Promote Zero-Emission Vehicles 930 A. Barriers to ZEV Deployment 931 B. Vehicle Standards Are Critical But Insufficient 934 C. Opportunities for Additional Policy Support 936 III. Incorporating GHG Planning Into Transportation and Land Use Decision-Making 941 A. The Importance of the Transportation Sector for Meeting Economy-Wide GHG Targets 941 B. Existing Transportation, Land Use, and Air Quality Planning Frameworks 945 C. Challenges for Transportation Sector GHG Planning 946 D. Four Potential Transportation GHG Planning Processes 950 IV. Mainstreaming Resilience Considerations Into Transportation Decision-Making 954 V. Integrating Emissions-Reduction and Transportation Funding Strategies 963 Conclusion 967 INTRODUCTION

The transportation sector is becoming the largest source of greenhouse gas ("GHG") emissions in the United States. (1) This is already the case in many states, including those along the East and West Coasts. (2) The Obama Administration put in place federal vehicle and fuel standards that are significantly reducing emissions. However, these regulations will be insufficient to put the United States on track to achieve needed reductions needed long-term, per scientific findings and the Paris Agreement, which call for significant medium-term reductions and a long-term goal of decarbonizing our energy system before the end of the century. (3) This is especially true if the 2025 standards announced by the Obama Administration are rolled back by the new Trump Administration. (4)

Because current federal standards alone will not attain ambitious climate goals and may be rolled back, state and local activity is essential to make progress towards meeting emissions reduction goals. For example, financial and other incentives for adoption of clean vehicles can encourage more consumers to purchase electric vehicles. (5) Electrification of the transportation system, combined with a move to lower-carbon sources of electricity, can bring about the transformative change needed to curb climate change. (6)

In addition, transportation infrastructure (including roads, bridges, transit, ports, airports, and rail) is already compromised by climate change impacts such as increased heat, and more extreme weather events such as floods, storms, and rising seas. (7) Investments in infrastructure are generally based on past, static conditions and do not take into account current and future projections of climate change impacts. As a result, trillions of dollars in assets are vulnerable to the changes the United States is already experiencing and anticipating. (8) The news is not all grim. This Article highlights efforts--some already underway and some still needed--to promote strategies for a more sustainable, low-carbon future that also accounts for impacts to transportation infrastructure.

This Article focuses on four underappreciated strategies that will be critical to catalyzing a shift to a low-carbon, resilient transportation sector in the United States. First, federal vehicle and fuel standards should be complemented by federal and state strategies to promote the adoption of lower-emission and zero-emission vehicles. Second, it will be critical to develop tools and practices that integrate GHG reduction planning into transportation decision-making. Third, resilience to climate impacts should be incorporated into transportation planning and investments. Finally, to achieve these goals and make the necessary investments, the broken transportation funding system should be replaced or complemented by new mechanisms that can sustainably fund our transportation system during this period of transition and beyond. This Article highlights existing models and emerging approaches for all of these strategies, but argues that broad implementation must accelerate to meet GHG emission reduction goals and prepare for climate impacts.

  1. BACKGROUND

    Existing federal fuel and vehicle standards--combined with efforts at the state level--will make a significant contribution to emissions reduction goals in the transportation sector, assuming that they are not weakened or repealed.

    Following years of legal challenges, the 2007 Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, and leadership by the California Air Resources Board ("CARB"), an agreement was reached in May 2009 between California, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA"), the U.S. Department of Transportation ("DOT") and automakers. (9) This agreement led to the adoption of nationwide standards for fuel economy and GHGs for light-duty vehicles such as automobiles, SUVs, and pickup trucks produced in model years ("MY") 2012-2016--achieving the first significant improvements in fuel efficiency and vehicle emissions in decades. (10) In 2012, this rule was followed by another, which further reduced GHGs and improved fuel economy for light-duty vehicles for MY 2017-2025. (11) These standards will achieve an average GHG emissions-per-mile for the light-duty vehicle fleet in MY 2025 that is equivalent to 54.5 miles per gallon--representing an annual fuel efficiency increase of between four and five percent from MY 2011. (12) Combined with MY 2012-2016 standards, this will result in MY 2025 vehicles emitting one half of the GHGs that MY 2010 vehicles emitted. (13)

    There have likewise been two rounds of standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks and other work vehicles. First, in 2011, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") released the Phase 1 standards for MY 2014-2018 medium- and heavy-duty vehicles--the first regulation of GHG emissions from these sources. (14) Then, in August 2016, the EPA and NHTSA promulgated Phase 2 standards for MY 2019-2027 vehicles. (15)

    Taken together, these federal vehicle standards will achieve significant GHG emission reductions. The MY 2012-2016 light duty vehicle standards are projected to reduce emissions by 960 million metric tons, (16) and the MY 2017-2025 standards are projected to reduce emissions by two billion metric tons over the life of the vehicles. (17) Similarly, the Phase 2 standards for trucks are projected to reduce emissions by approximately 1.1 billion metric tons over the life of the vehicles. (18)

    The election of President Donald Trump in 2016, along with Republican control of both houses of Congress, has brought uncertainty to these federal vehicle standards. Some auto manufacturers have called for weakening the light duty vehicle standards for MY 2022-2025. (19) Under the Clean Air Act, states are generally preempted from setting their own vehicle emission standards. (20) However, because of its historic leadership in this area, California has been given special authority to enact stricter standards via a waiver of this preemption by the EPA, and other states may choose to adopt California's standard. (21) On March 3, 2017, the Trump Administration was reported to be considering a rollback or change in timing of the review of the federal vehicle standards, as well as a potential withdrawal of California's waiver authority. (22) More generally, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has called for eliminating EPA's authority to regulate GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act, although it is not clear that such a measure could obtain the sixty votes required to break a filibuster in the Senate. (23) Should the EPA be stripped of this authority, or should the EPA roll back the federal standards or California's waiver, these would be major setbacks for efforts to reduce GHG emissions, including emissions from transportation. (24)

    In addition to informing the development of these federal standards, California and other states are supporting the development of, and the market for, low- and zero-emission vehicles such as electric and fuel cell cars. (25) California has implemented a zero-emission vehicle standard--under another waiver of Clean Air Act preemption--requiring automakers to produce and sell non-emitting vehicles within the state. (26) Nine states have joined California in enacting that standard, (27) and in 2013, the governors of California and seven of these states agreed to work together to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025. (28)

    Those same eight U.S. states--California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont--joined the International Zero-Emission Vehicle Alliance ("International ZEV Alliance") launched in August 2015 to promote awareness and increase adoption of zero-emission vehicles. (29) Along with Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Quebec, the International ZEV Alliance members made a commitment that all new passenger vehicles in their jurisdictions will be zero-emission vehicles by 2050. (30)

    As described in more detail in Part III, state and local jurisdictions are also providing incentives designed to boost purchases, including tax credits and rebates, access to high-occupancy lanes on highways, and preferential parking. (31) States and cities are also developing electric vehicle charging and natural gas and hydrogen fueling networks, and are working to remove regulatory barriers, such as complicated permitting processes for installing stations. (32) States and regions are also collaborating to promote seamless long-distance travel in electric vehicles by providing accessible and clearly marked charging stations. Existing collaborations include the Transportation and Climate Initiative ("TCI"), a regional collaboration of energy, environment, and transportation agencies from eleven northeast and mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia, (33) and the West Coast Electric Highway, an initiative of California, Oregon, and Washington. (34)

    In addition to policies to promote low- and zero-emission vehicles, states are crafting policies to support the...

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