Transportation

 

Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers
Transportation & Air Quality Program - 2012
 
Introduction and Background
 
In June 2007, governors and premiers adopted recommendations from the Ministerial Forum on Energy and the Environment (Québec City, February 2007), which included transportation policy recommendations. Recognizing that there are significant air quality issues associated with the transportation sector, the NEG/ECP formed the Transportation and Air Quality Committee (TAQC).   The first charge of the TAQC was to develop a regional action plan that was adopted at the 32nd NEG/ECP Conference in Bar Harbor, Maine on September 16, 2008.
 
The governors and premiers directed the TAQC to examine policies that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and achieve air quality goals while enhancing the effectiveness of our transportation systems. To achieve these goals, the membership of the TAQC was balanced between transportation and environmental officials. 
 
The basis for working together to reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sectors is provided by the commonly held principles that all governments must work to reduce GHG emissions and that while the transportation system is a significant contributor to the problem, it is also a key determinant of the region’s prosperity. 
 
The Transportation and Air Quality Action Plan (TAQAP) lists 34 action recommendations for and is organized around six major areas.
1.      Transportation Planning
2.      Land Use
3.      Low/No-Carbon Fuels
4.      Pricing and Incentive Mechanisms
5.      Clean Car Programs
6.      Regional Freight Policy
 
The action plan includes opportunities to coordinate efforts toward substantial emissions reduction. Not all actions will be implemented in exactly the same manner in all jurisdictions; however, it is clear that the sum of the efforts of all participating states and provinces will result in improved air quality. 
 
The regional goals of the TAQAP are to reduce GHG emissions and other associated air pollutants from the transportation sector to a degree consistent with the GHG reduction goals as specified in the NEG/ECP Climate Change Action Plan (2001). To reiterate, these goals are:
 
reduce overall GHG emissions regionally to 1990 levels by 2010;
reduce overall GHG emissions regionally to 10% below 1990 levels by 2020; and
reduce overall GHG emissions regionally by 75-85% by 2050, relative to 2001 levels.
 
 
 

Summary 2010-2011 Work Items
The primary focus of the TAQC during 2010-11 was to continue implementation of the TAQAP. The work plan for this coming year will consist of priority actions identified by the committee. 
 
The TAQC met in May 2011 following US mid-term elections and the organization of new state administrations. The principal discussions focused on alternative fuel vehicles, vehicle emission standards, expansion of high-speed rail connections and extension of interstate weight exemptions, the efficient transportation of freight, low carbon fuels, and engagement with federal transportation and environment officials.
 
Discussions between jurisdictions since the adoption of the TAQ action plan highlight the fact that all states and provinces support the principles of reduced transportation emissions by reducing vehicle miles travelled (VMT) and more efficient movement of people and goods.
 
Components of the Action Plan
 
Transportation Planning
The objective of this section of the action plan is to improve the efficiency of the region's transportation system components in an effort to reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled while contributing to the economic prosperity of the region. 
 
At the regional level, states and provinces are addressing forward-looking issues such as increased weight allowances for trucks, planning for the introduction of electric vehicles, and coordinating improvements to the region's key corridors.
 
At the jurisdictional level, states, provinces, and local governments have undertaken numerous initiatives that provide consumers access to low-emission alternative modes of transportation. Examples of measures adopted by many states and provinces include:
  • public transportation strategies;
  • sustainable transportation strategies;
  • public transit incentives;
  • commuting alternatives such as park-and-ride programs and rideshare programs; and
  • intelligent transportation systems.
 
 
Land-Use Planning
By adopting compact residential and commercial development practices, states and provinces can drastically reduce the need for vehicle use and allow citizens to access jobs and services using alternative transportation modes.
 
The impact of this type of planning can have long-lasting impacts on emissions from transportation. Within and outside the region, various sub-national governments are experimenting with programs that reward efforts to develop compact mixed-use communities. The TAQC continues to examine such programs as they assess how best to influence housing choices in support of VMT reduction objectives.
  
Low Carbon Fuels
As the economy and population of the region continue to grow, the total amount of fuel consumed within the region grows proportionately. The TAQC is committed to reducing the emission intensity of the fuels used in transportation within the region in order to achieve a reduction in emissions without impairing economic growth.
 
Improvements in this area require advances in technology and there are several pilot projects underway in the region that potential to reduce emissions:
  • Hybrid-diesel and hydrogen fueled public transit;
  • bio-diesel for government vehicles; and
  • hybrid school bus trials.
 
All NEG/ECP jurisdictions are participating as active members or observers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Low Carbon Fuel Standard Study. The objective of this study is to create a market-based mechanism that will reduce the carbon intensity and resulting GHG emissions from transportation fuels in the region. 
 
Pricing and Incentives
Programs in this area provide consumers with information, and incentives that will assist them in making environmentally conscious transportation decisions. The desired result is that demand for and availability of fuel efficient vehicles will increase. 
 
Governments across the region have assumed a leadership role in demonstrating environmental responsibility by:
  • requiring that fuel efficiency be evaluated in public purchasing decisions;
  • employing hybrid and other electric vehicle technology;
  • consumer rebates for purchase of hybrid or electric vehicles;
  • graduated licensing fees based on vehicle weight or engine size; and
  • public information campaigns aimed at vehicle operation, smart driving habits and engine maintenance. 
Low Emission Vehicles
NEG/ECP jurisdictions have been active in requesting that stringent federal fuel efficiency standards be adopted. In the region, the majority of states and provinces have adopted or committed to adopt CaLEV standards. Recent announcements by US and Canadian governments have established aggressive standards for fuel efficient vehicles starting with the 2011 model year. 
 
Governments in the region have also adopted programs that influence driving behaviors aimed at reducing the emissions from vehicle operation including:
  • anti-idling regulations and education campaigns;
  • smart driving campaigns;
  • vehicle emission labeling;
  • private and commercial vehicle emission testing; and
  • enforcing green vehicle procurement policies.
Freight Policy
The objective in addressing freight policy is to reduce the emissions from the transportation of goods by improving the efficiency of road transportation and increasing the share of more efficient alternatives such as marine and rail transportation.
 
States and provinces are already implementing a variety of measures that will reduce the carbon footprint of commercial transportation, such as:
  • partnerships with the trucking industry to promote fuel efficient technology;
  • reduced speed limits for commercial vehicles;
  • pilot studies on increased vehicle weight limits on interstate highways;
  • investments in intermodal studies and infrastructure; and
 
The measures noted above demonstrate that the NEG/ECP region is committed to reducing GHG emissions and other associated pollutants from the transportation sector. However it is clear that the challenge of achieving a significant reduction in emissions will require a concerted and coordinated effort by all partners over the coming decade.
 
 
Work Plan for 2011-2012
The priorities for the TAQC during 2011-2012 are primarily consideration of opportunities to reduce the carbon intensity of the region’s transportation fuel mix and preparing for the introduction and use of electric and natural gas vehicles. In the area of reducing vehicle miles travelled, the committee will focus on increasing access to efficient alternative travel modes.
 
During the coming year the committee intends to:
 
  1. Collect baseline data on public transportation ridership and monitor improvements in public participation in support of the action plan goal of doubling ridership by 2020.
  2. Evaluate the findings of the Low Carbon Fuel economic study and make recommendations regarding investments in transportation infrastructure.
  3. Work to identify regional GHG emission reduction opportunities in the context of changing federal transportation and climate change legislation;
  4. Coordinate and share information on the states’ and provinces’ respective transportation planning processes to identify opportunities to reduce GHG emissions;
  5. Explore zero-emission mobility such as electric vehicle partnerships with the public and private sectors, municipalities, and energy producers to plan the necessary infrastructure.
 
Some Transportation-related reports and Documents:
 
NEG/ECP Transportation & Air Quality Action Plan (2008)