Federal Highway Administration’s Wrong Turn

New guidance from the Federal Highway Administration fails to live up to President Biden’s executive orders to advance equity and consider climate impacts in federal actions.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A broad group of 22 transportation, equity and environmental organizations sent a strongly worded letter to Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt today opposing the agency’s new guidance on infrastructure spending.

In a policy document from December 2021, the Federal Highway Administration said federal, state and local planning officials should focus on repair of roads and bridges instead of new highways, and consider the equity and climate impacts of their spending decisions.  

In an unfortunate retreat from that policy, the new guidance issued last month drops these basic, commonsense guideposts. As a result, it fails to live up to President Biden’s executive orders that the federal government must advance equity and consider climate impacts in its actions. 

“This tepid new policy is a serious failure of leadership,” Deron Lovaas, a senior advocate at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) said. “While President Biden promised to adopt a new course, the administration is trying to continue with business as usual. For the good of our health, the climate, and communities of color across the nation, this cannot stand."

“For far too long federal highway projects have bulldozed communities while ignoring the equity and climate impacts,” Lovaas said. “The Federal Highway Administration must fix this error and fix it fast to put us on the path to a transportation system that’s equitable, safe and truly efficient.”   

For a copy of the letter, please contact Mark Drajem. For background on the climate impacts of the bipartisan infrastructure law, please see this blog.

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.

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