Transportation

TRANSPORTATION

The transportation sector —which includes all modes of travel through land, air, and sea to move people and goods—now accounts for a third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions*, negatively affecting the health and well-being of millions of Americans, particularly those in disadvantaged communities. Transportation costs are the second largest annual household expense in our country and for the poorest Americans, the financial burden of transportation is disproportionately and unsustainably high. Already in 2020, according to the EPA, transportation generated the largest share of greenhouse gases in the U.S.

In 2018, twelve states (and the District of Columbia) in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic responded, creating the Transportation and Climate Initiative to improve transportation, develop the clean energy economy and reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector. This initiative is still being facilitated by the Georgetown Climate Center.

On January 11, 2023,  The Biden-Harris Administration released the U.S. National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization. Developed by the Departments of Energy, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency, the Blueprint is a landmark strategy for cutting all greenhouse emissions from the transportation sector by 2050. There is a very effective graphic on page 5 of the Blueprint clarifying which of the different modes of travel offer the greatest long opportunities, as the administration works to meet the goal of net-zero GHG emissions economy-wide by 2050.

*Greenhouse gases trap heat and make the planet warmer. Human activities are responsible for almost all of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the last 150 years.1 The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in the United States is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation. EPA tracks total U.S. emissions by publishing the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks. This annual report estimates the total national greenhouse gas emissions and removals associated with human activities across the United States. 

CREDIT: EPA

CURRENT NEWS

Will America ever stop building more highways?

By Shannon Osaka 02/15/24
For decades, the United States has built and expanded a 220,000-mile network of state and interstate highways, easing cross-country travel while dividing cities and boosting suburban sprawl.
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Flush With Biden’s Infrastructure Cash, New York Is Choosing Highways Over Public Transit

By Sam Mellins 02/05/24
President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a centerpiece of his first term — and a huge windfall for New York. The state is expected to receive $36 billion from the law to upgrade its…
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The EV Revolution Isn’t Only Arriving on Four Wheels

By Akshat Rathi, Christine Driscoll, and Oscar Boyd 11/04/23
Cars make up only half the electric mobility picture. There are around 1.3 billion passenger cars on the road at the moment, the vast majority of which still need to be electrified. But there are…
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The Most Interesting EVs Are the Weird Ones

By Andrew Moseman 10/16/23
The Shogo’s front end shouts fast, and its steering yoke could’ve come off a race car — no surprise, since Honda motorsport engineers designed and hand-assembled it. Sure, the little electric vehicle tops out at…
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3 counties could power over 250,000 homes with clean energy with one change: ‘Imagine our entire state’s potential’

By Jane Donohue 10/14/23
Anew analysis demonstrates that three Southern California counties could power over 270,000 homes by lining their highways with solar energy infrastructure
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Startups with electric vans race to fill demand for zero-emissions delivery

By Nick Carey and Lisa Baertlein 09/18/23
A clutch of European and U.S. delivery company startups is racing to serve the growing market for offering zero-emission, electric last-mile deliveries in cities to retailers and consumers before giant shippers do the same.1
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The RVs of the future are here — and they use free, off-the-grid energy powered by a surprising piece of technology

By Mila Dyson 08/09/23
You’ve been dreaming of hitting the open road in your RV, but you’re worried about the cost of fuel to power the RV’s functions on arrival. You also might’ve heard that you could run your…
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Extreme heat is affecting oil refineries in Texas, pushing up gas prices

By Spectrum News 08/01/23
Multiple days of temperatures exceeding 100 degrees in the Southern states are affecting oil refineries in Texas and Louisiana, diminishing gas supplies and increasing prices.
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The Biden Administration Wants To Boost Fuel Efficiency To 58 MPG By 2032

By Alan Ohnsman 07/28/23
The U.S. Transportation Department on Friday unveiled a proposal that would require the fuel efficiency of the average new passenger vehicle to be at least 58 miles per gallon in less than a decade, building…
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How Biden’s climate law will — and won’t — transform America

By Maxine Joselow 07/20/23
Almost a year ago, President Biden signed into law the most ambitious climate bill in the nation’s history. Now, as a blistering heat wave bakes the southern United States, a timely new report illustrates how…
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Taking Stock 2023: US Emissions Projections after the Inflation Reduction Act

By Ben King, Hannah Kolus and Others 07/20/23
Every year, Rhodium Group provides an independent projection of future US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, under current policy and expectations for economic growth, future fossil fuel prices, and clean energy cost and performance trends. This…
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Jordan Calls For Unified Global Electric Grid To Streamline Green Energy Transportation

By Pooja Chandak 07/03/23
The Assistant Secretary-General of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources of Jordan, Hassan Hayari, emphasized the need for a unified global electric grid to facilitate the transport of green energy from countries with abundant…
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KEY RESOURCES

The Station

07/31/23
Welcome back to The Station, your central hub for all past, present and future means of moving people and packages from Point A to Point B.

The U.S. National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization: A Joint Strategy to Transform Transportation

01/12/23
In September of 2022, the leaders of the departments of Energy, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency signed a historic memorandum of understanding (MOU) to enable the four federal agencies to…

Vehicle Electrification Group

07/12/22
The Vehicle Electrification Group at Carnegie Mellon University was founded by Professor Jeremy Michalek and Professor Jay Whitacre in 2009 to study systems-level issues of hybrid and plug-in vehicles. Research areas include:

Vehicle-to-grid (V2g): Everything You Need To Know

06/17/22
V2G stands for “vehicle to grid” and is a technology that enables energy to be pushed back to the power grid from the battery of an electric car. With electric vehicle-to-grid technology—also known as car-to-grid—a…

Electric Vehicle Investments Provide Benefits Across the U.S.

06/13/22
This map compiles ZETA research to illustrate EV investments across the country. These private investments are creating tens of thousands of good-paying auto jobs that will reinvigorate communities, generating thousands of additional indirect jobs. And…

Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

05/23/22
Greenhouse gases trap heat and make the planet warmer. Human activities are responsible for almost all of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the last 150 years.1 The largest source of greenhouse…

What Is the Carbon Footprint of Transportation?

10/07/21
The statistician and engineer W. Edwards Deming once said “In God we trust. All others must bring data.” Some of the best data come from the Our World in Data team at Oxford University. Their…

Profitably Decarbonizing Heavy Transport and Industrial Heat

08/23/21
To avoid the worst risks of runaway climate change, the world must cut global greenhouse gas emissions— chiefly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels—in half by 2030 and to about zero by 2050. Of that…

A Low Carbon Fuel Standard: In Brief

08/16/21
As part of the congressional deliberations on addressing climate change, Congress may consider policy options for reducing greenhouse gas(GHG)emissions from the transportation sector. One of the leading contributors to the U.S. GHG emission profile in…

Climate Action Pathway

08/11/21
By 2050, passenger and freight transport will be completely decarbonized by shifting to a more sustainable, diverse and resilient range of modes and vehicle technologies. Although individual countries will need to identify their own pathway…

PRESIDENTIAL ACTIONS: Biden Administration Advances Expansion & Modernization of the Electric Grid

04/27/21
Departments of Energy and Transportation Announce New Actions to Upgrade America’s Power Infrastructure — Creating Jobs, Increasing Reliability, and Combating Climate Change

Biden unveils the first $2 trillion of his colossal 2-part infrastructure plan

04/01/21
Biden has unveiled the first part of his up to $4 trillion plan to overhaul the American economy.

Our Transportation Future

07/27/20
The Transportation and Climate Initiative is a collaboration of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia. In December 2018, nine TCI states and D.C. committed to design and create a market-based program over…

Building Resilient Transportation

06/10/20
State and regional transportation agencies across the country are facing extreme weather events that damage roads and bridges and cost large sums to repair, not to mention the cost to the economy from disrupted travel.

The Most Detailed Map of Auto Emissions in America

04/30/20
Transportation is the largest source of planet-warming greenhouse gases in the United States today and the bulk of those emissions come from driving in our cities and suburbs.

Solar carports: how do they work and how much do they cost?

04/25/20
While a typical carport or patio cover provides shading and is undoubtedly a value-add for a home or automobile owner, its one-dimensional simplicity is a missed opportunity. If you’re a PV fanatic following emerging technologies in the solar industry,…

Fuel Economy in Hot Weather

04/25/20
Hot weather can actually increase your fuel economy. Your engine warms up to an efficient temperature faster; summer grades of gasoline can have slightly more energy; and warm air causes less aerodynamic drag than cold…

Fueling a Clean Transportation Future

03/28/20
Smart Fuel Choices for a Warming World.

MacRebur: The Plastic Road Company

03/02/20
MacRebur’s mission is to help solve the waste plastic epidemic and the poor quality of roads we drive on around the world today. Our innovative solution involves processing waste plastics destined for landfill or incineration…

IMO 2020: The Big Shipping Shake-Up

01/31/20
Over 90% of all global trade takes place on our oceans. Unfortunately, the network of 59,000 vessels powering international commerce runs on sulfur-laden bunker fuel, and resulting emissions are causing problems on dry land.

The Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI)

01/07/20
The Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) is a regional collaboration of 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia that seeks to improve transportation, develop the clean energy economy and reduce carbon emissions from…

Carbon Pollution from Transportation

01/07/20
Burning fossil fuels like gasoline and diesel releases carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. The buildup of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases like methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) is…

Climate Collaborative – Transportation Resources

01/07/20
This page highlights case studies, videos, tools, and other resources from our partners. Adopting efficiencies in shipping cargo, logistics optimization, and intermodal transport can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the global movement of goods…

A brief introduction to climate change and transportation

09/22/19
How to reconcile people's love affair with their vehicles and society's need to reduce carbon emissions?

The Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT)

11/21/19
The Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) promotes the integration of sustainable transport in global policies on sustainable development and climate change and leveraging action in support of the implementation of the global policies.…

MORE NEWS

California Town Bans New Gas Stations to Curb Carbon Emissions

By Sami Grover   08/22/21  
When I wrote about Exxon’s efforts to drive up demand for plastics, I referenced its championing of recycling not as an example of corporate responsibility, but as a strategy for heading off more disruptive measures like…
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How Green Are Electric Vehicles?

By Hiroko Tabuchi and Brad Plumer   08/06/21  
Around the world, governments and automakers are promoting electric vehicles as a key technology to curb oil use and fight climate change. General Motors has said it aims to stop selling new gasoline-powered cars and…
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Biden calls for half of new cars to be electric or plug-in hybrids by 2030

By Dino Grandoni and Brady Dennis   08/05/21  
The executive order comes as part of a suite of new goals and mandates to cut climate-warming emissions from the auto sector
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Biden, in a Push to Phase Out Gas Cars, Tightens Pollution Rules

By Coral Davenport   08/05/21  
The president is restoring and strengthening tailpipe emissions regulations from the Obama era and has set a target that half of all vehicles sold in the United States be electric by 2030.
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Biden seeks to boost fuel economy to thwart Trump rollback

By AP   08/05/21  
The Biden administration wants automakers to raise gas mileage and cut tailpipe pollution between now and model year 2026, and it has won a voluntary commitment Thursday from the industry that electric vehicles comprise up…
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Nikola Founder Is Charged With Fraud in Rebuke to Wall Street

By Matthew Goldstein and Niraj Choksi   07/29/21  
In a warning shot to a thriving corner of Wall Street, federal authorities on Thursday filed criminal and civil securities fraud charges against the founder of Nikola — a start-up automaker that went public by merging with…
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Cleaner Vehicles Achieving a Resilient Technology Transition

07/22/21  
A common principle in technology policy is that of ‘technological neutrality’ – that is, setting a policy
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Our Irrational Love of Gas Cars Is Going to Bite Us in the Ass

By Alex Lauer   07/20/21  
We as a species need to stop burning fossil fuels as quickly as possible. Heat domes in the Pacific Northwest, historic floods in Germany, wildfires and drought in Napa Valley — these extreme weather events…
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Space tourism: rockets emit 100 times more CO₂ per passenger than flights – imagine a whole industry

By Eloise Marais   07/19/21  
The commercial race to get tourists to space is heating up between Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson and former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. On Sunday 11 July, Branson ascended 80 km to reach the…
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ICCT report finds US domestic EV production and investment continues to fall

06/21/21  
The United States is the third-largest electric vehicle (EV) producer behind China and Europe; a new study from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) finds that the gap has widened. The ICCT study finds…
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We can’t solve the climate crisis without getting out of our cars and onto buses and trains

By Michael E. Mann and Matt Casale   06/16/21  
As Americans receive vaccines and people feel safer leaving home, an unwelcome feature of pre-COVID life, headache-inducing traffic, is coming back in full force. More than an inconvenience, this rising tide of cars and trucks…
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Tasked to Fight Climate Change, a Secretive U.N. Agency Does the Opposite

By Matt Apuzzo and Sarah Hurtes   06/03/21  
During a contentious meeting over proposed climate regulations last fall, a Saudi diplomat to the obscure but powerful International Maritime Organization switched on his microphone to make an angry complaint: One of his colleagues was…
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Mineral constraints for transition overstated by IEA

By Kingsmill Bond   05/10/21  
The IEA looked into the amount of minerals needed to fuel the energy transition, and pretty quickly worked out ‘there is no shortage of resources’.  The world has plenty of lithium, nickel, rare earth metals…
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EPA to restore California’s power over car pollution rules, reversing Trump

By Anna M. Phillips   04/26/21  
California’s ambition to retake the lead on climate change policy in the United States received a major boost Monday as the Biden administration moved toward allowing the state to once more set its own car…
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Bipartisan Group Backs Gas-Tax Increase as Option to Fund Infrastructure

By Andrew Duehren   04/23/21  
A bipartisan group of House lawmakers endorsed a report that includes raising the gasoline tax as a possible way to pay for infrastructure spending, lending support to a measure that both Republican and Democratic proposals…
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Riders Are Abandoning Buses and Trains. That’s a Problem for Climate Change.

By Somini Sengupta   03/25/21  
On the London Underground, Piccadilly Circus station is nearly vacant on a weekday morning, while the Delhi Metro is ferrying fewer than half of the riders it used to. In Rio, unpaid bus drivers have…
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Duke, other utilities see dollar signs in becoming EV experts

By Matthew Bandyk   03/24/21  
As this year's Super Bowl viewers learned, parts of Europe are well-ahead of the U.S. in electric vehicle adoption. Energy providers there have developed an array of services to help business customers make the switch…
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The Weekly Planet: Why a Climate-Denial Coalition May Be Cracking Apart

By Robinson Meyer   03/17/21  
Last week, China released the draft summary of its next five-year plan, its comprehensive economic planning document for 2021 to 2025. It’s an important document, a kind of “plan of plans” for the country’s provinces and…
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VMT tax: Two states tax some drivers by the mile. More want to give it a try

By Ian Duncan   03/12/21  
Bruce Starr spotted the problem right away: The hydrogen-powered cars General Motors was showing off on the Oregon Capitol grounds wouldn’t need gas. And if they didn’t need gas, drivers wouldn’t be paying gas taxes…
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Pete Buttigieg Has Some Ideas for Overhauling How America Moves Around

By Ryan Bort   03/05/21  
Pete Buttigieg, the man now responsible for managing the means by which Americans travel trillions of miles per year, can’t leave his house. Just days after he was confirmed as secretary of transportation, a member…
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Petaluma bans new gas stations in effort to cut emissions

By Associated Press   03/04/21  
A Sonoma County city has banned new gas stations in an effort to cut carbon emissions. Petaluma is believed to be the first city in the country to take such action. The Petaluma City Council…
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More states follow California’s lead on vehicle emissions standards

By Rachel Frazin   02/28/21  
An increasing number of states are looking to follow the precedent set by California and adopt stricter vehicle emissions standards as the Biden administration appears poised to green light those efforts. The Virginia legislature this…
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Automakers Drop Efforts to Derail California Climate Rules

By Coral Davenport   02/02/21  
Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and several other major automakers said Tuesday they would no longer try to block California from setting its own strict fuel-economy standards, signaling that the auto industry is ready to work with…
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Skip Pruss on GM and Shift Away from Gasoline

By Peter Sinclair   01/29/21  
If you want a good read on where we are in the energy transition, you might want to speak to Stanley “Skip” Pruss, former Chief Energy Advisor to former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, who is…
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Electric Cars Are Coming, and Fast. Is the Nation’s Grid Up to It?

By Brad Plumer   01/29/21  
Major automakers are increasingly betting that millions of new cars and trucks over the next decade will be plugged into electrical outlets, not fueled up at gas stations. That raises a question: Is the nation’s…
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G.M. Announcement Shakes Up U.S. Automakers’ Transition to Electric Cars

By Neal E. Boudette and Coral Davenport   01/29/21  
A new president took office this month determined to fight climate change. Wall Street investors think Tesla is worth more than General Motors, Toyota, Volkswagen and Ford put together. And China, the world’s biggest car…
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Secretary Pete: Transportation Should Be a Climate Agency

By Ann Shikany   01/20/21  
President Joe Biden’s decision to nominate Pete Buttigieg to lead the Department of Transportation may be among the most consequential of his presidency. His experience as a mid-sized-city executive, combined with the experience of his…
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Toyota to Pay a Record Fine for a Decade of Clean Air Act Violations

By Hiroko Tabuchi   01/14/21  
Toyota Motor is set to pay a $180 million fine for longstanding violations of the Clean Air Act, the U.S. attorney’s Office in Manhattan announced on Thursday, the largest civil penalty ever levied for a…
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United Airlines aims to suck carbon dioxide from the friendly skies

By Steven Mufson   01/12/21  
United Airlines is investing in a venture that doesn’t make airplanes, transport passengers or ring up frequent-flier miles on the company’s credit cards. And even as it posts losses stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, United is providing…
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How the Department of Defense could help win the war on climate change

Eric Wolff   01/04/21  
The Pentagon has a huge appetite for clean energy — and a massive budget.
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Survey: Voters support bold actions on transportation, climate issues

By DJ Simmons   12/25/20  
A majority of eastern U.S. voters support the multi-state Transportation and Climate Initiative as a way to jump-start the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recently released scientific survey of…
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The District, three states sign agreement to curb transportation emissions

By Luz Lazo   12/22/20  
The group, which could be joined by other states, set a goal of reducing vehicle pollution by 26 percent in the next decade.
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EU urged to address aviation’s full climate impact, including non-CO2 emissions

By Chloé Farand   11/26/20  
The aviation sector’s climate impact is three times bigger than the effect of its carbon dioxide emissions alone, according to a study by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (Easa), the EU’s aviation regulator, commissioned by the…
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Scaling sustainable aviation fuel today for clean skies tomorrow

11/20/20  
The time to act is now. As travel and tourism ramp up, aviation will again produce about 3 percent of total carbon emissions, plus other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Hybrid-electric and hydrogen-powered…
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Electrifying Homes And Cars Could Save The Climate — And $2,500 Per U.S. Household

By Alexander C. Kaufman   10/22/20  
New research shows that the U.S. can rapidly decarbonize with existing technology and no real lifestyle changes.
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Governor bans post-2035 sales of new gas-fueled cars

By Anne C. Mulkern   09/23/20  
California will ban sales of new gas-fueled cars after 2035 under an executive order signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom today.
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Environmental and infrastructure policies to support communities in transition

09/15/20  
When a fossil fuel plant or mine shuts down, jobs and economic prosperity are lost — but often, the pollution stays. Communities across the U.S. reliant on fossil fuels — and those located near them…
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Guest commentary: Our future Aspen airport is a worthy vision

By John Bennett, Meg Haynes and Jackie Francis   09/15/20  
For many Vision Committee members, the main objectives of our plan were cleaning up our airport and keeping it safe, not worrying about the CRJ. Today’s airport is a major source of carbon and other…
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Text: Joe Biden on Climate Change, ‘a Global Crisis That Requires American Leadership’

09/14/20  
The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, that's cost tens of millions of American jobs and counting.
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A Reform Agenda for the U.S. Department of Transportation

By Kevin DeGood   09/09/20  
Unfortunately, federal infrastructure policy and programs have not modernized to meet the five major challenges facing the U.S. transportation system: major injuries and fatalities, climate change
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Centering Planning in the Federal Surface Transportation Debate

By Jason Jordan   09/03/20  
This month, the nation’s surface transportation law — which funds the implementation of so much of planners’ work — will expire.
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Drivers Tell Automakers to Side with Clean Air, Not Trump

By Luke Tonachel   09/01/20  
In an outpouring of frustration, disappointment, and anger, more than 285,000 drivers sent messages to Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Toyota, and other automakers demanding that they drop their support of the Trump administration’s dangerous rollback of…
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Move Over, Sustainable Travel. Regenerative Travel Has Arrived.

By Elaine Glusac   08/27/20  
Can a post-vaccine return to travel be smarter and greener than it was before March 2020? Some in the tourism industry are betting on it.
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Defying Trump, California locks in vehicle emission deals with major automakers

By David Shepardson   08/18/20  
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) and major automakers on Monday confirmed they had finalized binding agreements to cut vehicle emissions in the state, defying the Trump administration’s push for weaker curbs on tailpipe pollution.
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States Pushing Back On Trump’s Environmental Policy Changes With Updates To Trucking

By Emily Folk   08/13/20  
The Trump administration has reversed 68 environmental regulations over the past three years. There are more than 30 supplementary rollbacks that have yet to be finalized.
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A plunge in mass transit ridership deals a huge blow to climate change mitigation

By Kristoffer Tigue   07/19/20  
Transit agencies ask Congress for relief as commuters return to their cars and fare revenues tank. Meanwhile, driving direction requests—and carbon emissions—soar.
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House Climate Change Plan Tackles Heavy-Duty Equipment at Ports

By Eugene Mulero   07/01/20  
Congress should increase funding for programs at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy to reduce emissions from heavy-duty equipment at ports, according to a recent plan from House Democrats.
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Trump administration rolls back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards

By Rebecca Beitsch   03/31/20  
The Trump administration on Tuesday rolled back an Obama-era law that pushes automakers to produce more fuel efficient vehicles, severely limiting a rule designed to decrease pollution from transportation in the face of climate change.
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Trump Administration Finalizes Fuel Economy Standards Rollback, A Key Policy Goal

By Nathan Rott   03/31/20  
The Trump administration's deregulatory agenda continues. Today the Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rollback of Obama-era fuel economy standards. This substantially weakens one of the country's biggest efforts to fight climate change. NPR's Nathan Rott…
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How plastic can be recycled to build roads

03/02/20  
Engineer Toby McCartney has found a way to mix recycled plastic in with asphalt to make new roads.
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