WASHINGTON —The Transportation Department today began seeking public comment on whether states and regional organizations receiving federal dollars should, for the first time, measure how planned projects such as roads and public transit systems would contribute to carbon pollution.
At this stage, DOT is only seeking comment, not proposing a rule, on whether transportation planners should factor in pollution. If it issues a final rule requiring them to do so, that could significantly improve public health and save money. Americans spend $53 billion a year on air pollution-related health care costs.
“Air pollution from transportation contributes to almost 30% of our country’s dangerous carbon emissions that fuel climate change,” said Deron Lovaas, senior policy advisor with the Urban Solutions Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We are pleased that Secretary Foxx has shown an interest in having transportation planners measure pollution. Expecting planners to think about air quality and health goes to the heart of what it means to plan, so this is a promising first step. If the final rule makes this a requirement, it could improve quality of life and help slow, stop and reverse climate change. We will advise the agency to establish standards that are strong, widely applied and consistent.”
Several states and cities—California, Oregon, Massachusetts, Seattle, the Twin Cities and Chicago—already take carbon pollution into account when developing transportation plans. The Department of Transportation gives transportation projects around the country about $50 billion a year.
Blog Post from NRDC's Pete Altman: A New Route to Protect our Health and Climate from Pollution