More than 100,000 comments in support of the Department of Transportation’s proposed greenhouse gas rule were submitted during the comment period that ended yesterday.
The rule will unify a hodgepodge of incomplete data from across the country into a unified standard, so states, MPOs, and the federal government can make informed decisions about which transportation projects to invest taxpayer dollars in to reduce climate emissions. As the comments reflect, the proposal is overwhelmingly supported by the public.
Comments in favor of the rule outweighed those opposed by more than 3,000 to 1.
Comments in support of the rule came from:
- 16 Metropolitan Planning Organizations
- 18 states and the District of Columbia
- Over 80 national, state and local non-profit organizations
The transportation sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.–and with record amounts of federal funds already flowing to states thanks to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), there is no time to waste to ensure that the projects being built reduce harmful carbon emissions, rather than increase them.
The Georgetown Climate Center summed up the stakes in a recent issue brief: “IIJA could be an important part of the U.S. response to climate change. Or it could lead to more greenhouse gas pollution than the trajectory we are currently on. Where the actual outcome falls within that range will depend on the decisions made by state, federal, regional, and local governments about how to spend the money made available by IIJA.”
Federal funding is already available for states to implement the rule.
Leading transit and environmental groups released the following statements in response to the overwhelming number of comments.
“The climate crisis is not coming. It is here now. And given that urgency, we need the Administration to act quickly finalizing this rule to meet the moment and the crisis we are in,” said LeeAnn Hall, campaign director National Campaign for Transit Justice. “The huge number of comments show there is overwhelming public support for this rule. We can’t afford to wait any longer.”
“The wave of support for this rule is a clear sign. States and local communities want to make a positive impact on transportation emissions, and taxpayers want to see the results of their investments,” said Beth Osborne, director of Transportation and Thriving Communities at Smart Growth America. “Now that comments are closed, the Biden administration has the opportunity to act quickly to finalize this commonsense measure. A delay will only bring us further from our climate goals.”
“The majority of car trips in the U.S. are within a short walk or bike ride. Shifting these trips to walking and biking is fundamental to reducing emissions and avoiding the worst potential consequences of climate change,” said Patrick Wojahn, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Director of Government Relations. “Sustainable transportation infrastructure—including trails and active transportation networks—make it safer and more convenient for people to drive less, which is what it takes to make big changes in our lives and for the planet. The Greenhouse Gas Emissions rule will encourage municipalities to invest in the infrastructure we need to reach our climate goals.”
“This rule is a big-picture means of assessing how our taxpayer dollars are being invested,” said Deron Lovaas, a senior transportation advocate at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “So it’s no surprise that this proposal has attracted a record amount of public support. The administration should listen to the public and move quickly to put this strong measure in place.”
“The Biden administration must move urgently to finalize this popular regulation to track and reduce pollution from transportation projects across the country. Fossil fuel cars, trucks, and buses have left communities breathing toxic air and suffering from worsening climate disasters. This rule will help to ensure that states are held accountable for moving us away from the status quo and addressing our nation’s most polluting sector,” said Sierra Club’s Clean Transportation for All Director Katherine García.
“Every time we spend money on transportation infrastructure, we have an opportunity to re-envision the future,” said Matt Casale, U.S. PIRG Education Fund Environment Campaigns director. “The projects that we choose to invest in should be ones that are going to make American lives better and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to the devastating effects of climate change. This commonsense rule will help states make better, more informed decisions, and the comments on the docket clearly show the public support for the rule.”
“To be effective in fighting climate change, we need to know what works, and what doesn’t.” said Kate Fillin-Yeh, Director of Strategy for the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). “This measure will help government leaders make informed decisions that create a more sustainable, safe and equitable transportation system. State governments have the tools–from street redesigns to federal infrastructure funding–to meet the moment and ensure a livable future for all Americans.”
“The Environmental Law & Policy Center is encouraged to see strong public support for requiring states to measure and cut greenhouse gas pollution and we urge DOT to finalize the rule as quickly as possible,” said Kevin Brubaker, Deputy Director, the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “With transportation now our leading source of climate pollution, this performance measure is a much-needed step toward action. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”
“The overwhelming public support for the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposed rule makes it crystal clear that Americans understand the importance of cleaning up the most polluting sector of our economy—our transportation sector,” said Evergreen Action State Policy Director Justin Balik. “Now is the time for states to align their transportation spending with the realities of climate change. We can’t sit idly by as the status quo of gasoline powered vehicles and ever expanding highway networks inflict irrevocable harm on the planet and frontline communities plagued by toxic pollution. DOT and state leaders across the country have an enormous opportunity to help ensure federal funds are allocated towards a modern, equitable and sustainable transportation system. They must get to work.”
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.