FHWA sketches transportation greenhouse gas emission reduction framework

The U.S. Department of Transportation has opened a public comment period for a Federal Highway Administration Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for states and municipalities to track and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act makes more than $27 billion available for state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations to meet a declining GHG emissions target.

The new rule: 1) establishes a national framework for tracking state-by-state progress by adding a new GHG performance management measure to the existing FHWA national performance metrics to help states track progress and make more informed investment decisions; and, 2) creates a system under which state DOTs and MPOs would set their own targets for on-road GHG emissions from roadway travel on the National Highway System. State DOTs and MPOs would be required to report biennially on their progress in meeting benchmarks they establish, FHWA assessing progress on both fronts. IIJA funding is available over five years through various programs:

• Carbon Reduction. Provides $6.4 billion in formula funding to states and local governments to develop carbon reduction strategies and support a wide range of projects designed to reduce carbon emissions from on-road highway sources.

• National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula. Provides $5 billion to states primarily through a statutory formula to build out a national electric vehicle charging network, an important step towards making electric vehicle charging accessible to all Americans.

• Discretionary Grants for Charging and Fueling Infrastructure. Provides $2.5 billion in competitive funding to states and local governments to deploy electric vehicle charging and hydrogen, propane, and natural gas fueling infrastructure along designated alternative fuel corridors and in communities.

• Congestion Relief. Provides $250 million in competitive funding to advance innovative, multimodal solutions to reduce congestion and related economic and environmental costs in the most congested U.S. metropolitan areas.

• Reduction of Truck Emissions at Port Facilities. Provides $400 million in competitive funding to reduce truck idling and emissions at ports, including through the advancement of port electrification.

• Low or No Emission Vehicles. A $5 billion Federal Transit Administration earmark, plus $7.2 billion for the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside program to help state and local governments carry out environmentally friendly pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure projects.

In addition to new funding sources that states can access from IIJA, FHWA officials contend, new and existing formula programs provide states and local governments critical access to funding to encourage public transportation and other integrated land use and transportation projects and strategies. Such efforts reduce air pollution by giving passengers more climate-friendly options for travel, the agency argues, and help state and local governments meet the emissions reduction targets the proposed rule would require them to set for themselves.

“Every state and local government in this country is seeing the impacts of climate change on their communities and infrastructure. States have a critical role to play as we work nationwide to bring down greenhouse gas emissions and slow those impacts,” says Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “State laws already require 24 states and the District of Columbia to set targets and track their greenhouse gas emissions and this proposed rule would bring this locally proven approach to scale nationwide.”

An Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation found that a temporary worker for Armorock LLC, Sulphur Springs, Texas-based polymer concrete producer, suffered serious injuries in January 2022 after being struck by a large mold. OSHA investigators determined that the employer failed to install machine guards that would have prevented the incident. They also learned that a similar injury had occurred in March 2021 on the same platform where employees fill molds with resin.

Agency inspectors likewise determined that poor housekeeping exposed workers to airborne concentrations of respirable crystalline silica, putting them at increased risk of serious silica-related diseases including silicosis. In addition to lack of machine guards and silica exposure, the underground structure producer was cited for:

• Failing to provide proper machine guarding on a rotating table used to pour polymer concrete into the molds;

• Exposing workers to slip and trip hazards in the production area;

• Failing to provide adequate energy control procedures or sufficient lockout/tagout devices;

• Failing to provide the correct respirators and not performing annual fit testing on employees;

• Not making eyewash stations available in some areas where they may be needed;

• Not implementing a process safety management program; and,

• Using slings compromised with polymer concrete build-up to lift large objects.

OSHA issued citations for one willful and 25 serious violations and proposed penalties of $400,902.