Decarbonization Sessions at Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, and FHWA Climate Change & Air Quality Highlights

Schedule of TRB Decarbonization Sessions at the TRB Annual Meeting 9-12 January, 2017

Pre-2020 steps toward transportation sector decarbonization are needed and there are a number of practical steps agencies and our organizations can take now.  Implementing a full-blown transformation will require scaling up “no-regrets” actions without delay, with some of the ensuing benefits arriving pre-2020 and others post-2020.

Decarbonization: Charting a Path Forward (Mon. 3:45-5:30, Conv. Center 146A)

What’s the urgency?  And what are some of the solutions uniquely enabling us to respond now?  What are some significant wedges to enable us to take some large bites out of this problem?  How do we chart a path forward for the US and Canada?  Will be chaired by Dan Sperling, TRB Exec. Committee

Transition platforms in the Transport sector, an international perspective (M 8-9:45, Conv. Ctr. 149)

Transportation agencies in North America and the US need support in making the transition off of fossil fuels, as a rapid shift in the coming decade or two.  What can we learn from other countries that have put platforms in place, such as Sweden and Germany, to support agencies in answering questions, exploring best practices, and tracking progress?  Chair: Neil Pedersen, Exec. Dir., TRB.

Learning from Shifts to Electric Vehicles in Fleets: WSDOT, NYC, Austin, Chicago (M 8-9:45, Conv. Ctr. 209B)

Transition to electric vehicles is a primary way to achieve climate resilience and health goals.  State and local authorities have purchasing power that can be used to learn and create the path for the larger public, with substantial savings over combustion vehicles over the course of a vehicle lifetime, according to fleet managers. NYCDOT is shifting half of their fleet to EVs by 2025 and the Netherlands has worked with both public and private sector at all levels to find a way to shift all buses to EVs in the next 8 years.  Now Austin (TX) Energy and the city fleet operations department are planning on adding 330 EVs by 2020, Denver is adding 200 and other agencies are getting underway.  Chair: John Hildreth, Fleets.

Next Steps toward “Zero Deaths” from Traffic: Incorporating Health in Safety & Resilience (Mon. 10:15-noon, Conv. Ctr. 140B)

Air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk and combustion motor vehicles are a significant cause.  The last few years have been full of discoveries about mechanisms and impacts of fossil fuels on physical and mental health and cognition, and DOTs are likely to begin to hear more about air quality effects on a much wider array of cancers and diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkison’s autism, and depression and mental health.  Meanwhile, the mechanism for impacts in the diseases counted and linked to air quality for years (heart attacks, strokes, lung disease) has now been documented even in healthy people and young adults, e.g., higher cell death and circulating dead cells, instigating inflammatory processes in arteries and organs.  The “right to life and health” is an emerging theme among the public, doctors, and health advocates that will increasingly affect DOTs.

Spotlight Session: Managing the Transition to Shared Automated Vehicles (Tues. 8 am, CC Salon C)

Fleets of automated vehicles, electric and shared (FAVES) are set to disrupt the ways in which we travel.   FAVES will affect road safety, congestion levels, vehicle ownership, destination choices, long-distance trip-making frequencies, mode choices, and home and business locations.   They can provide a wide array of benefits, from crash savings, driving burden reductions, fuel economy, and parking cost reductions are on the order of $2,000 per year per vehicle, rising to nearly $5,000 when comprehensive crash costs are reflected. However, vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) could rise with AVs traveling empty, longer-distance trip-making, and access for those currently unable to drive, such as those with disabilities. New policies and practices are needed, to avoid CAV pitfalls while garnering potential benefits.  What are the policy levers transportation agencies have and can employ? Chair: Marie Venner

Tracking progress in DOTs’ Rapid Shift Areas: Sustainability Indicators (Tues. 8 am, Conv Ctr 140B)

What are the indicators we need or that are working for governments making the decarbonization, health, access for all, EV, AV, CV and shared vehicle transitions that are occurring in the transportation sector?  What are being used by the lead governments/agencies?  How are they working and what can we learn for the US?  Starter sets of indicators will be presented and distributed and a process of consideration of what may be most useful in the US will be started.

Planning for Data Needs for Clean, Smart Cities and the Electric Vehicle-Autonomous Vehicle-Shared Vehicle Transition (Tues. 8 am, Conv. Center 152A)

New digital technology offers new opportunities for smart and emission-free mobility that saves energy, emissions, space, time and money.  DOTs must evolve into a platform for transportation innovation that focuses on three primary customer service delivery goals: data, mobility and infrastructure, creating more efficient and pollution free flows of people and goods.  In order for cities and supporting state and federal entities, such as the DOE labs, to support and analyze the smart and clean cities pilots underway that are incorporating new technology and increasing city resilience and health, a key question is what data should be collected, how it should be stored, and who has what responsibility.   This discussion will help other cities and DOTs prepare for the future and navigate the deluge of data opportunities and vendors approaching transportation agencies with “smart devices”, so they can think of how transportation agencies will be involved in compiling this into learning and actionable data, in turn dependent on a high degree of data analysis, data aggregation and data science knowledge.  Currently, the technology is developing faster than any standards so no two devices return the same data in the same format making the data aggregation step that much more difficult.  We need to find specific challenges multiple cities or data users are facing and then solve that problem in a fashion that is reusable and standardized, allowing cities and DOTs to work together to solve data challenges, allow experts to be shared across data problems, and eventually enable less wealthy agencies to reuse assets developed for the cities at the forefront of the smart city movement.

Climate Change & Energy Special Task Force Meeting, Tues 10:15 AM-noon, Marriott Marquis, Independence B (M4)

We Know There Is a Climate Problem; Why Aren’t We Doing Something? (Tues. 3:45, CC, 151B)  This discussion is hosted by the Strategic Management Committee and will feature Joe Romm.

Climate Change, Energy and Sustainability (AF0003) Meeting (Wed. 8-9:45 AM, Marriott Silver Linden – Mezz), Marie Venner, Chair.

Lessons Learned for Incorporating Climate Change into Transportation Engineering: Synthesis, (Wed., 8-9:45 AM Conv. Center, 151B) Chaired by Rob Hyman, FHWA

Changing Demand and Maintenance Needs (with EV, AV, Shared Vehicles and Energy Transition): Grappling with the Uncertainty (Wed, 10:15, Conv. Center, 207A)

Closing Workshop – Strategic Planning for Decarbonization Pathways for US Transportation Sector (Thursday, 8-noon, Conv. Center, Salon A) – Tim Sexton, MnDOT & Steve Cliff, CA Chairs.

FHWA Climate Change and Air Quality Highlights – December 2016

FHWA Designates Alternative Fuel Corridors

On November 3, FHWA announced 55 routes as alternative fuel corridors. The fuel designations include electric, hydrogen, propane, and natural gas, as directed in the FAST Act. Corridors were designated as either “signage-ready” (there are sufficient facilities to warrant signage along the corridor) or “signage-pending” (currently there are insufficient facilities available to warrant signage). The designations follow a July 22 Federal Register Notice seeking corridor nominations and will serve as the basis for a national network that can grow in the future.

FHWA Releases Updated Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Policy Analysis Tool

The FHWA recently released an updated version of EERPAT, the Energy and Emissions Reduction Policy Analysis Tool. EERPAT is an integrated, state-level modeling system designed specifically to evaluate strategies for reducing surface transportation greenhouse gas emissions. The new version of the tool (v3.0) has an improved graphical user interface that provides a simplified method for interacting with the tool for those users who are not proficient in the R software language. The redesigned EERPAT website now includes example applications of the tool from three state DOTs: Maryland, Vermont, and Washington.

Recording Available: FHWA Webinar on CEQ Climate Change Guidance

The FHWA has posted a recording of the agency’s October 4, 2016, webinar on the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)’s Final Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Effects of Climate Change in National Environmental Policy Act Reviews. The webinar provided an overview of the CEQ’s climate change guidance and presented suggestions for approaches to address the guidance during NEPA reviews.

Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program Emission Reductions Calculator

The FHWA Office of Natural Environment has developed a series of tools to provide technical support and resources for the implementation of the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program. CMAQ project justifications, as well as annual reporting, require the development of reliable air quality benefit estimates. Realizing that every potential project sponsor may not have the capacity for developing independent air quality benefit estimates, the FHWA has undertaken the initiative of developing a series of spreadsheet-based tools to facilitate the calculation of representative air quality benefit data. This CMAQ Emission Reductions Calculator is only offered as an additional resource to assist DOTs, MPOs and project sponsors in the project justification process. Agencies and individuals using an existing methodology to generate emissions benefit information are welcome to continue their current practice. For more information, please contact Mark Glaze.

New INVEST Case Studies Available

The FHWA recently published three case studies showcasing the how different transportation agencies from across the United States used INVEST to evaluate and improve the sustainability of long-range planning efforts and operations and maintenance activities. These include:

U.S. Gasoline Consumption Breaks Record

U.S. DOT announced that the U.S. consumed 71.8 billion gallons of gasoline on roadways over the first six months of 2016, the highest amount on record. This was a three percent increase compared to the same period a year earlier and the sixth consecutive increase in January through June gasoline consumption.

White House Highlights Opportunities for Building Community Climate Resilience

On October 31, 2016, the Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience released its Resilience Opportunities report. It describes key Obama Administration accomplishments and highlights opportunities for Federal agencies and stakeholders to work together on a shared climate resilience agenda. The document describes opportunities developed to support science and research for building resilience to climate change impacts, ensure the resilience of Federal operations and facilities in a changing climate, protect critical infrastructure and public resources, and establish and implement policies that promote resilience and support community-based resilience planning and implementation.

U.S. EPA Reducing Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases at Ports Webinar

EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality would like to invite you to a webinar exploring the recently released National Port Strategy Assessment: Reducing Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases at U.S. Ports. The EPA assessment examines current and future emissions from a variety of diesel sources operating in port areas, and explores the potential of a range of available strategies to reduce emissions from port-related activities. This assessment supports the vision of EPA’s to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases through a collaboration of industry, government, and communities. The webinar will be offered on Thursday, December 15 from 1–2 p.m. EST. For questions, please contact Benjamin VanGessel.