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The leader of the transportation policy committee in the U.S. Senate endorsed the Biden administration’s latest initiative to curb emissions through a comprehensive funding program.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, promoted the Federal Highway Administration’s new $6.4 billion carbon reduction program. The multiyear federal initiative is designed to assist state agencies with their efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
Carper, a key proponent of the program, helped win over support from colleagues last year to eventually include its provisions in the recently enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, or IIJA. The $1 trillion infrastructure policy package, which President Joe Biden enacted in November, is often referred to as the bipartisan infrastructure law.
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“I am so proud of the work we did to make the bipartisan infrastructure law a reality, and I’m especially proud that we made sure our bill’s historic investment in our highways, roads, and bridges also included an unprecedented commitment to address climate in our transportation sector,” Carper (D-Del.), a longtime proponent of climate-centric measures, said. “The centerpiece of that climate focus is the carbon reduction program.”
Under the program, unveiled on April 21, state departments of transportation would be able to utilize such funds for various emissions mitigation projects. Potential projects for consideration include congestion pricing mechanisms, truck stop and parking areas, port electrification systems, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, biking or micro-mobility options and bus rapid transit.
“This program will enable the development of projects that will reduce emissions, create jobs, and help families save money at the pump. With Earth Day just around the corner, our announcement today takes a big step forward in making the investments we need to fight climate change and create a better planet for future generations,” Carper said earlier this month. “This is a win-win: good for our planet and good for our economy.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation is pointing to the program’s potential for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from on-road highway sources. “As the sector generating the most carbon emissions in the U.S. economy, transportation must play a leading role in solving the climate crisis,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “The carbon reduction program will help reduce pollution from transportation and move us closer to the president’s ambitious goal of cutting emissions in half by 2030.”
According to background FHWA provided, under the program the agency will “review the state’s process for developing its carbon reduction strategy and certify that the strategy meets statutory requirements.” Additionally, at the request of a state agency, FHWA will “provide technical assistance in the development of the strategy.”
Meanwhile, House Transportation and Infrastructure ranking member Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Highways and Transit Subcommittee ranking member Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) led a critique of the new program. Specifically, the senior Republicans argued the Biden administration would find itself discouraging state agencies from pursuing new road projects.
“The FHWA, Department of Transportation and Biden administration need to stop prioritizing their woke agenda over implementation of the infrastructure law as it was written,” Graves and Davis said.
The Biden administration and congressional Democratic leaders say they continue to seek the adoption of an environmental and energy framework that would reflect aspects of a nearly $2 trillion social infrastructure package. Consideration of that package, known as the Build Back Better Act, was halted in December.
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