DOT Announces Infrastructure Emissions Program
Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration announced a $6.4 billion Carbon Reduction Program, created under the bipartisan infrastructure law. The formula funding will help states develop carbon reduction strategies and address the climate crisis, as well as expand transportation options to save money on gas.
“As the sector generating the most carbon emissions in the U.S. economy, transportation must play a leading role in solving the climate crisis,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “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.”
The CRP will reportedly apply to a wide range of projects designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from on-road highway sources, including installing infrastructure to support the electrification of freight vehicles or personal cars, to construction bus corridors or facilitating micro-mobility and biking.
According to the FHWA’s press release, under the CRP, states must also develop carbon reduction strategies in consultation with Metropolitan Planning Organizations to identify projects and strategies tailored to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in their states. However, localities can begin using these funds even before plans are developed and reviewed.
“This new program provides states and local agencies in both urban and rural areas the flexibility and funding needed to reduce emissions and build a more sustainable transportation network that will benefit all travelers,” said Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes transformative investments in our nation’s transportation infrastructure, and this is one of the key programs that will help address the climate crisis.”
According to the fact sheet, eligible projects include, but are not limited to:
Funding was announced by state in the Fiscal Year 2022 Federal-aid Highway Program apportionments, determined by a formula set by Congress. $52.5 billion will go to states for this fiscal year, with $6.4 billion in total being distributed over five years.
Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
With the goal of rebuilding the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges, as well as funding new climate resilience and broadband initiatives, the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act reportedly serves to deliver a key component in President Joe Biden’s agenda.
Projects approved in the legislation in November, according to the White House’s Fact Sheet, will include:
The White House also reports that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, alongside the Build Back Framework, will add on average 1.5 million jobs per year for the next ten years.
As potential effects of climate change woe the world, the legislation has recognized that nearly 75% of the nation’s electricity can be accounted for in both its residential and commercial structures, such as housing, stores and offices.
To mitigate the high usage, the Build Better Plan has dedicated roughly $5 billion to various programs aimed at reducing electricity use in buildings, improving building materials and training on design, construction and maintenance for energy-efficient structures.
The bill will also fund a series of problem-solving programs, for issues varying from drafty windows in affordable housing complexes to aged air ducts and outdated building codes.
According to reports, the largest chunk of the $5 billion will be utilized for the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, which aids structures owned or occupied by people with low incomes. The legislation is expected to provide a $3.5 billion infusion for the program, which will be used to fund upgrades such as insulation, windows, roofing, and heating and cooling devices.
Though seemingly minor, the upgrades are expected to result in sizable energy savings.
Later in November, the White House announced that President Biden named former New Orleans Mayor Landrieu as senior advisor responsible for the implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
At the beginning of the year, Landrieu reached out to state leaders at the beginning of the month encouraging them to appoint their own infrastructure coordinators to implement the $1.2 trillion law.
The three-page letter, sent to all the nation’s governors on Jan. 4, he requested that they appoint a “high-level” representative to serve as the state’s own Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator. Landrieu also reportedly suggested that governors create task forces modeled after the Infrastructure Implementation Task Force created by President Biden in November.
The role of these positions will help integrate aspects of the bill, including funding, alongside departments responsible for transportation, water, broadband and energy investments for projects.
In February, the White House released the first edition of its Bipartisan Infrastructure Law guidebook that contains a comprehensive list of the more than 375 programs and available funding included in the law.
Acting as a “roadmap” for the funding available under the law, as well as an explanatory document that shows direct federal spending at the program level, the 465-page guidebook outlines 12 chapters grouping the programs by area
Of the 375 programs, 125 are new, with 60% of the funds are available through formula and 40% are through competitive applications. Future phases of the guidebook are expected to update dates and timelines for program implementation, best practices, case studies and links to key resources.
Climate Crisis Plan
Prior to the passing of the infrastructure law, in 2020 following the announcement of Joe Biden as the President-elect, the Biden-Harris Administration released its plan regarding climate change, highlighting the administration’s early priorities.
At the time, the Biden-Harris transition team looked at one form of technology it believes will be welcomed by a normally divided Congress: carbon capture and storage (CCS). While the technology isn’t specifically outlined in the transition document, CCS and other forms of negative emission technology has been long promoted by Biden throughout his time as presidential candidate and was noted in his campaign climate plan.
Earlier forms of the plan also mentioned various reforestation, agricultural practices, and also plans to look at battery storage, renewable hydrogen, advanced nuclear and building materials.
Overall, Biden intended to dedicate $1.7 trillion to overhaul energy, transportation, agriculture and other sectors. According to the transition document, the team planned to go beyond just recommitting the nation to the Paris Agreement on climate change, and aims to build a more resilient, sustainable economy through the creation of union jobs within these new investments.
Biden’s planned investments included infrastructure, the auto industry, transit, the power sector, buildings, housing, innovation, agriculture and conservation and environmental justice.