Washington, D.C. – Many U.S. states’ transportation policies conflict with the goal of reducing carbon emissions and have huge potential for improvement, according to a report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Smart Growth America (SGA). The report found that while transportation is the country’s second-largest and second-fastest-growing source of carbon pollution after electricity generation, current policies do not recognize the connection.
“Most states’ transportation departments seem to be ignoring their important role in stopping climate change,” said Colin Peppard, deputy director of federal transportation policy at NRDC. “If states considered all their transportation policy options, they could tap into tremendous potential to reduce carbon emissions, even with limited resources.”
The report, Getting Back on Track: Climate Change and State Transportation Policy examined 17 key policy options and found that, for example, few states bother to adequately assess carbon emissions when deciding whether to allocate funds to build new highways or maintain existing ones, or how much money it should devote to transit, if any at all. The report found many states miss opportunities to reduce transportation emissions, and sometimes increase their emission rates.
“We know there are innovative approaches to transportation that are good for communities, address pollution and meet our transportation goals, but we now know states aren’t using them,” said Neha Bhatt, deputy policy director at SGA. “We can get a better transportation system and reduce carbon emissions per dollar invested, but we have to change transportation policies at the state and federal level to do that.”
The report gives high scores to California, New Jersey and Maryland for their support of policies to reduce carbon emissions and take steps to rebuild their economies through effective transportation decisions.