New report: State transportation decisions could save money and reduce carbon emissions

Download the ReportA new report released today by Smart Growth America and the Natural Resources Defense Council found that transportation policies in every state could save money and reduce carbon emissions by making smarter decisions with state funds.

In “Getting Back on Track: Climate Change and State Transportation Policy,” SGA and NRDC found that current transportation policies in almost all 50 states either fail to curb carbon emission rates or, in some cases, actually increase emissions. This contradiction between state policies and broader efforts to reduce carbon emissions means not only that many states are missing opportunities to protect clean air; it means they are missing economic opportunities as well.

In a press conference this morning, former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening remarked:

Transportation makes up an enormous proportion of our national economy and our environmental impact: it must be front and center as we think about how to get the most out of our public investments. The states that rose to the top in this report, California, Maryland and New Jersey, are there because they are meeting the challenge to innovate.

Transportation is the country’s second-largest and second-fastest growing source of carbon pollution (after electricity generation), yet transportation policies in most states fail to acknowledge their role this problem. Smarter transportation policy could save money, create jobs and help rebuild the economy while also curbing emissions.

“State departments of transportation are working at odds with carbon reduction efforts, and that means states are missing out environmentally AND economically,” said Neha Bhatt, deputy policy director for Smart Growth America. “We can get a better transportation system and reduce carbon emissions at the same time, but we have to change state and federal transportation policies to do that.”

According to the findings in the new report, fewer than half of states have complete streets laws or policies in place, and only 15 states provide incentives for clean transportation commuting. 15 states have implemented smart growth policies or policies that curb sprawl, but only seven states incentivize transit-oriented development. If more states adopted these kinds of policies, they could not only reduce emission rates but attract more businesses and create more jobs, too.

“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.”

In addition, changes to federal policy could also encourage states to use their transportation money more effectively, and without action at both the state and the federal levels, the United States will almost certainly fail to meet current carbon reduction goals. The overdue authorization of a federal transportation bill will be a key moment for leadership from both Congress and the Obama Administration to reduce carbon emissions and continue to rebuild our economy.

Click here to download “Getting Back on Track Climate Change and State Transportation Policy.” (PDF)

Share this post:
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Tumblr
    This entry was posted in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Blog, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Featured Content, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, States, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

    7 Responses to New report: State transportation decisions could save money and reduce carbon emissions

    1. Banning studded tires and requiring people to use Snow tires would reduce unncessary road maintenance, hence CO2 emissions. Here in Oregon it’s only 1% of driving conditions (3 or 4 days a year), yet people drive with studded tires for 5 1/2 months. Check out for the facts.

    2. Doraine Raichart says:

      One very compelling and overlooked reason for public transportation which should be addressed is the aging of our population. People shouldn’t have to give up their mobility and freedom as their eyesight dims, their reflexes slow down, and driving becomes more dangerous to themselves and others. With a strong public transportation infrastructure, the aging population would have a workable alternative that makes it much more palatable to give up their private vehicle and still actively participate in community life. I see this issue being a huge aspect of improving the economy and circumventing some real problems that are coming down the pike as the boomer generation continues to age.

    3. !2/15/10

      To: Geoff Anderson

      From David E. Blank, Ph.D.
      Louisville, KY

      Re: 1. A disconnect with reality?

      A. If you can look at recent news reports in the Louisville Courier-Journal, [once a prestigious regional news paper], or the local alternative news paper, LEO [ Louisville Eccentric Oberver – yes, founded by now Congressman John Yarmuth], the transportation news in Metro Louisville focuses on the issue of how to fund the Ohio River Bridge or Bridges Project, and the need for tolls.

      The sub-plot in the debate over tolls is whether there will be privatization or a public authority.

      For many smaller metroploitan areas such as Louisville’s, the alternative to over reliance on ones private car is buses. NOT light-rail.

      Why no mention in the study “Aligning State Transporation Policy with Climate Change Goals,” on propspect of electric cars [Nissan and GM] or Ford’s hydroge powered shuttle bus?

      B. The 2010 midterms and the rise of John L Mica, and the defeat of James Oberstar.

      While I sense that the report was in press prior to the diasaster of a midterm, perhaps your cover letter could have responded to this reality.

      C. Please forgive me, if my own growing dismay with and at President Obama, has jaded my views, but reading what Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels wants, I sense that fixing short term budget crises and not avoiding climate change, is what will be guiding states such as Indiana and Kentucky. John Kasich is also Governer-elect of Ohio. He has already forfeited Federal money for a disjointed and not very high-speed rail.

      His reason according to the New York Times, was “It was NOT transformative… would not get people out of their cars.” Ray LaHood, is on record saying we “need to coerce Americans to get out of their cars.” The only coercive measure I know is TOLLING.

      II. To understand Metro Louisville better, you might want to get to know a group called Visit its website,

      With respect, Smart Growth America needs to better relate to grass roots reality. I do enjoy reading your stuff, but wish that it was more helpful. We are in a super cold spell right now and the right-wing nuts, who deny climate change are having a field day .

      David Eugene Blank

    4. CandiceMunoz says:

      One remembers that humen’s life seems to be high priced, but we require cash for various things and not every person earns big sums money. Thus to receive fast mortgage loans and college loan should be a right solution.

    5. This is a very informative report. I completely agree with the author. That is a really terrific overview.

    6. kwinder says:

      Research agenda 21. Then revisit this website.

    7. KevinTran says:

      Nice post

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *