Reducing Oil Dependence through Energy and Climate Policy

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 29 Apr 2010 19:00:00 GMT

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) invites you to a briefing to examine the potential effects of pending energy and climate legislation on the transportation sector and U.S. dependence on oil. Policies that create a sustained, stable, and predictable price on carbon for transportation fuels have the potential to promote fuel-efficient vehicles, low-carbon fuels, and more energy-efficient transportation decisions by businesses and consumers. However, how such a price is determined, how it is applied, and how generated revenues are used can greatly influence the benefits and costs of such a policy. This briefing will focus on the economic and environmental implications of alternative ways to reduce oil use and greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector and how key stakeholders are likely to respond. Speakers for this event include:
  • Dr. David Montgomery, Vice-President, Charles River Associates
  • Dr. Chad Stone, Chief Economist, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities
  • Dr. Adele Morris, Policy Director for Energy and Climate Economics, Brookings Institution
  • Dr. David Austin, Senior Economist, Congressional Budget Office
  • Jack Basso, Director of Program Finance and Management, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
  • James Corless, Director, Transportation for America
  • Patrick O’Connor, Legislative Counsel, NAFA Fleet Management Association

Fuel use in the transportation sector is widely regarded to be less sensitive to changes in price, relative to electricity and other sectors of the economy, due in part to limited availability of transportation options and substitutes for petroleum fuels. Recent swings in fuel prices, corresponding demand responses, and other research suggest, however, that modest price signals - especially sustained price signals - can spur investments in clean transportation and create significant benefits for the transportation sector. Options to create a carbon price through a fee on transportation fuels can be designed to be as effective and predictable as other policy options based on tradable allowances. Any revenues generated through such policies can be returned to consumers and businesses, reinvested in transportation infrastructure and advanced vehicle and fuel technology, or directed to a combination of public uses.

This briefing is free and open to the public. No RSVP required. For more information, please contact Jan Mueller at jmueller@eesi.org or (202) 662-1883.

Climate Change Policy and Transportation

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 22 Jul 2009 12:00:00 GMT

RSVP

Sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association.

Keynote Speakers:
  • Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, (D-Md.)
  • Sen. Thomas Carper, (D-Del.)
Panel:
  • Kevin Desmond, King County Metro Transit Division,Dept. of Transportation, Seattle
  • Deron Lovaas, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Caitlin Rayman, Maryland Department of Transportation
  • Daniel J. Weiss, Center for American Progress

Climate change is one of the most significant issues facing transportation today. Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation sources account for one-third of the emissions in the United States, and transportation accounts for 70 percent of U.S. oil consumption. With Congress debating the legislation this year, this event will take a 360-degree look at climate change proposals in the House and Senate and examine the impact they may have on our transportation system.

The Columbus Club at Union Station

50 Massachusetts Avenue

Washington, DC 20002

8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. – Breakfast and Conversation

8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. – Program

Climate 2030: A National Blueprint for a Clean Energy Economy

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 21 Apr 2009 15:00:00 GMT

On April 21, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) will release the results of a two-year study that found that the United States can significantly reduce carbon emissions and lower energy bills by implementing an emissions cap in conjunction with a suite of energy and transportation policies. UCS’s recommended approach is similar to the one proposed recently by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) in a draft discussion climate bill.

The UCS analysis, “Climate 2030: A National Blueprint for a Clean Energy Economy,” uses a modified version of the Department of Energy’s National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) and projects how UCS recommendations would reduce emissions and lower energy costs over the next 20 years. The analysis also provides projections of net business savings on energy and net consumer savings by household and region.

WHO
  • Kevin Knobloch, UCS president
  • Rachel Cleetus, UCS climate economist
  • Steve Clemmer, UCS Clean Energy Program research director
  • David Friedman, UCS Clean Vehicles Program research director

For the visual portion of UCS’s “webinar,” go to: cc.readytalk.com/r/i6a7q64a5vtw (please log in early to avoid any bottlenecks)

For the audio portion, call: 866-740-1260, access code: 3018025

An Overview of Transportation R&D: Priorities for Reauthorization

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 12 Feb 2009 15:00:00 GMT

On Thursday, February 12, 2009, the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation will convene a hearing to review the research, development, and deployment activities of the Department of Transportation. The hearing will focus on issues related to the funding, planning, and execution of current research initiatives and how these efforts fulfill the strategic goals of both Federal and State Departments of Transportation, metropolitan transportation organizations, and industry. With the expiration of SAFETEA-LU in FY2009, this hearing will also examine possible ways to improve the current Federal transportation effort.

Witnesses
  • Paul Brubaker, former Administrator of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • Dr. Elizabeth Deakin, Director of the University of California Transportation Center, University of California, Berkeley
  • Robert E. Skinner, Jr., Executive Director of the Transportation Research Board.
  • David Wise, Acting Director of Physical Infrastructure Issues, Government Accountability Office
  • Amadeo Saenz, Jr., Executive Director, Texas Department of Transportation

Overview

Signed in 2005, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) (P.L. 109-59) authorized a total of $2.227 billion through FY2009 for research and related programs under Title V of the bill. This Title authorizes surface transportation research by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), training and education programs, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the University Transportation Centers (UTCs), and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Research. The Science and Technology Committee’s jurisdiction over surface transportation research and development is based on House rules which grant the Committee jurisdiction over, “Scientific research, development, and demonstration, and projects therefore” and legislative precedent. Jurisdiction over these programs is shared with the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The Science and Technology Committee has a long referral history regarding surface transportation research and development (R&D) bills, including H.R. 860 in the 105th Congress and H.R. 242, and H.R. 243 in the 109th Congress. Elements of each of these bills were incorporated in the highway reauthorization bills for the respective Congresses.

Issues and Concerns

Planning, Coordination, and Evaluation of Research, Development, and Technology (RD&T)

Despite the creation of a specific RD&T coordinating agency within Department of Transportation (DOT) by the Mineta Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-426), and requirements in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) (P.L. 105-178) and SAFETEA-LU that DOT evaluate and coordinate its research programs, efforts in this regard continue to fall short. In 2003, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) evaluated the coordination and review efforts by the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA)1. RSPA had been created by the Secretary of Transportation to coordinate and review RD&T activity across the modal agencies. It was dissolved when the Mineta Act created the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) to fulfill largely the same functions. In the 2003 report, GAO found that efforts to locate duplicative programs and opportunities for cross-collaboration between the modal agencies were hampered by a lack of information on the RD&T activities being pursued across the modal agencies. GAO also found that DOT did not have a systematic method for measuring the results of federal transportation research activities, or a method to show how their research impacted the performance of surface transportation in the U.S. RSPA cited a lack of resources to perform these types of evaluations, and they also stated that each modal agency undertook its own evaluation of its research programs. GAO recommended that RSPA define metrics to evaluate the outcomes of its DOT-wide RD&T coordination efforts. In 2006, GAO did a follow-up evaluation of RD&T coordination and evaluation. They again offered similar recommendations, noting the continuing lack of common performance measures for DOT RD&T activities. However, at the time of that evaluation, RITA had just recently been established. GAO commended the initiative in RITA’s FY2007 budget request to devote $2.5 million to RD&T coordinating activities (an increase of nearly $2 million over the $536,000 spent by RSPA in FY06 on coordination).

In November of 2006, RITA submitted the Transportation Research, Development and Technology Strategic Plan for 2006-2010 to Congress. The Transportation Research Board (TRB), of the National Research Council, evaluated this plan and noted, “The strategic RD&T plan for 2006-2010 is a reasonable first effort. It offers useful descriptions of the many RD&T programs within the Department. At the same time, it is more a compendium of individual RD&T activities than a strategic plan that articulates department wide priorities and justifications for RD&T programs and budgets.” According to TRB, the plan lacked stakeholder input and also failed to identify how stakeholder input would be sought for strategic planning in research topic areas. It further failed to articulate the role and value of DOT’s RD&T activities; describe the process used for selecting research topics to ensure their relevance, quality, or performance; describe the expected outcomes from RD&T; and describe the process for monitoring performance. In TRB’s view, the plan, at a minimum should have explained the extent to which quantifiable goals, timetables, and performance measures would be part of RD&T programs.

The major surface transportation RD&T program of the FHWA has received similar criticisms regarding coordination and evaluation as DOT’s overall RD&T program. The program is highly decentralized, with research activities taking place in five out of the thirteen offices within the agency. In 2002, GAO reviewed FHWA’s R&D approach and urged that the agency “develop a systematic process for evaluating significant ongoing and completed research that incorporates peer-review or other best practices in use at Federal agencies that conduct research.” FHWA subsequently developed its Corporate Master Plan for Research and Deployment of Technology and Innovation, released in 2003. This document contains many overarching principles, such as measuring the performance of RD&T activities, but does not provide specific mechanisms through which FHWA will implement all of them. It is also unclear from FHWA’s RD&T Performance Plan for 2006/2007 if the many research projects listed have been evaluated for their use by the transportation community. Without such analysis, the information portrayed in these documents establishes outputs, but does not offer any outcomes.

Tech-Transfer

There is general agreement that the transfer of technology and new ideas from the R&D stage to deployment and adoption is slow. In testimony before this Committee in September of 2007, FHWA identified some of the contributing factors that slow the state and local adoption of new transportation technology, including insufficient information on the benefits versus the costs of new technologies; lack of confidence in new technologies or a lack of performance data; and a lack of incentive mechanisms to encourage the deployment of new technology. TRB Special Report 295, The Federal Investment in Highway Research, 2006-2009: Strengths and Weaknesses, notes the important role FHWA plays in educating state DOTs about new technologies and encouraging their adoption, noting such efforts as FHWA’s activities to identify, market, and track the deployment of market-ready technologies and incorporate a strategic plan for the deployment of pavement research activities. However, the funding for technology transfer activities at FHWA has suffered in recent years, falling from $100 million to $40 million after the passage of TEA-21. The report further notes, “The missing element among all of FHWA’s deployment activities appears to be the resources within the agency with explicit expertise in technology transfer and deployment that could provide guidance to the various efforts agency wide [sic].”

The Intelligent Transportation Systems program is a well studied example of transfer and deployment of R&D efforts. In 2005, GAO identified broad issues with DOT’s deployment goals for traffic management ITS, finding that the goals did not take into account the level of ITS needed to accomplish local objectives and priorities; did not reflect whether localities were operating the ITS as intended; and did not adequately capture the cost-effectiveness of ITS 7. Additional studies of ITS deployment have found that local officials are aware of ITS technologies but feel that the benefits are not adequately described.

Recommendations from TRB

With support from FHWA, TRB’s Research and Technology Coordinating Committee (RTCC) has periodically assessed the state of highway research and made recommendations to policy makers. In its recent report, TRB Special Report 295, The Federal Investment in Highway Research, 2006-2009: Strengths and Weaknesses, the RTCC evaluated the investments in highway R&D made under SAFETEA-LU. According to the report, transportation R&D is significantly under funded when compared with the R&D investments made in other industrial sectors. Also, the report recommended that the matching requirement for UTCs be adjusted from 50-percent to 20-percent. According to the RTCC, if UTCs relied less on state DOTs and others for matching funds, they would be free to pursue longer-term advanced research topics and move away from applied research that could be handled elsewhere. The RTCC recommended that FHWA’s Exploratory Advanced Research Program continue as well, and that a larger percentage of the agency’s research budget go toward advanced research. Additionally, the report states that all research grants, including those to UTCs, should be made on a competitive, merit-reviewed basis. The RTCC recommended that FHWA be given more resources to engage stakeholders and carry out technology transfer activities. FHWA should be given the resources to take the lead in establishing an ongoing process whereby the highway community can set these priorities. Finally, the RTCC noted that the Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP 2) was funded significantly less than stakeholders had requested, and recommended that it continue to receive funding for another two years. TRB states many recommendations but does not provide specific mechanisms to accomplish them.

Public Health, Climate Change, and Federal Transportation Policy

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 14 Jan 2009 18:30:00 GMT

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) invites you to a briefing to examine the public health impacts and costs associated with transportation in the United States. The briefing will address how federal transportation infrastructure policies can improve public health and mitigate climate change at the same time. Panelists will include:

  • Lawrence Frank, PhD, Professor, Sustainable Transportation Program, University of British Columbia
  • Patrick Kinney, ScD, Associate Professor, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
  • Thomas Gotschi, PhD, Director of Research, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
  • Jenelle Krishnamoorthy, PhD, Professional Staff, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
  • Susan Abramson, MHS, Director, Public Health Policy Center, American Public Health Association

The transportation sector is associated with multiple public health risk factors – adding billions of dollars to our national healthcare bill – while accounting for approximately 28 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. This briefing will explore an emerging body of research documenting local, regional and national health impacts from transportation and implications for addressing transportation-related impacts on climate change.

Exposure to air pollution from vehicles has been linked to premature deaths, cancer, asthma, and other lung ailments. Time spent driving and limited options to walk or bike have been shown to be significant risk factors for health problems associated with physical inactivity, such as stress and obesity, which have reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Many of these impacts, asthma and obesity in particular, disproportionately affect children. Recent studies suggest that climate change will exacerbate many of these impacts, however, transportation strategies to address these public health concerns have proven effective measures to help mitigate climate change.

Federal economic stimulus legislation as well as anticipated federal transportation, climate, and energy bills are all important opportunities to address the public health impacts and costs associated with transportation as well as energy security and climate protection goals. Key questions to be addressed include:

  • What are the public health impacts associated with transportation?
  • What are the opportunities to simultaneously address climate change and different public health impacts associated with transportation?
  • What transportation policy options would be most appropriate and effective to address both public health and climate change goals?

This briefing is free and open to the public. No RSVP required. For more information, contact Jan Lars Mueller at (202) 662-1883 or jmueller@eesi.org.

Energy independence implications of the auto bailout proposal

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 09 Dec 2008 15:00:00 GMT

As Congress considers a multi-billion dollar program of loans to America’s auto industry, many measures of success or failure exist for the industry and the government’s attempts to help the automakers. Chief among those measures of success is how effectively America’s auto industry, and the industry as a whole, is transformed to build cars for the future that reduce our dependence on oil. Will the auto industry meet the fuel economy rules passed by Congress and signed into law nearly a year ago, which could revitalize the industry? Should American taxpayers expect even higher fuel economy performance in return for their investment of additional billions in loans? Do the auto companies’ plans impair their ability to meet the current fuel economy regime?

A panel of auto industry and fuel economy experts will discuss these issues and other energy implications of the automotive industry loan program at a hearing tomorrow before Chairman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. Chairman Markey authored the House language that became the current fuel economy standards of at least 35 mile per gallon by 2020.

Today an analysis of the car companies’ own data revealed that General Motors and Ford are now positioned to comply with California’s landmark global warming standards if they are applied nationwide, which could represent a significant increase in fuel economy. According to the analysis of the companies’ data released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the two major automakers are in a position to meet the California global warming tailpipe standards. This analysis is important because some lawmakers in the House and Senate have proposed imposing a condition on the auto bailout that would grant the California waiver or prohibit the automakers from fighting the waiver in court or in state legislatures.

Witnesses
  • Joan Claybrook, President, Public Citizen
  • Reuben Munger, Chairman and Co-founder, Bright Automotive
  • Dr. Peter Morici, Professor of International Business, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland
  • Geoff Wardle, Director of Advanced Mobility Research, Art Center College of Design
  • Richard Curless, Chief Technical Officer, MAG Industrial Automation Systems

Moving Cooler: Leveraging Transportation to Fight Climate Change

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 21 Nov 2008 14:40:00 GMT

Day 1: Cooler Heads Prevailing

Background Briefings on Facts, Trends, Policy and Politics

9:40-10:00: U.S. Transportation Policy – Survey of ISTEA-SAFETEA-LU

  • Michael Replogle: Environmental Defense

10:00-10:10: Break

10:10-11:00 Where Are We Going? – Demographic, market and policy trends changing the context for transportation * Chris Leinberger: Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Center; University of Michigan; and
  • Rob Puentes: Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Center

11:00-12:15: Tools for Shaping a Low Carbon Transportation Future Panel Discussion and Q & A

Growing Cooler – smart growth and transit
  • Geoff Anderson: Smart Growth America; Transportation for America
Enhancing walking and biking
  • Kevin Mills: Rails to Trails Conservancy
Intelligent transportation systems and pricing
  • Leslie Barras: ITS America
Blueprint Plans
  • Mike McKeever: Sacramento Area Council of Governments

12:15-1:30: Lunch

Lunch speaker – New Vision for American Transportation (12:45-1:30)
  • Jannette Sadik-Kahn: New York City Department of Transportation

1:30-3:00: Politics and Policy: Transportation and Climate

1:30-1:50: Policy in Brief: A summary of action to date at the state and federal level
  • Marty Spitzer: Center for Clean Air Policy
1:50-2:30: Perspectives from the Hill
  • Amy Scarton, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
  • Susan Binder: Committee on Environment and Public Works
2:30-3:30: Perspectives from Off-the-Hill
  • Don Ross: Transportation for America
  • Art Guzzetti: American Public Transportation Association
  • Polly Trottenberg: Building America’s Future
  • Joshua Shank: Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Bill Ankner: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

3:30-3:45: Break

3:45-5:30: What’s the Vision: A Proposal for the Green Groups and CLEAN

3:45-4:45: Proposal for Platform, with Group Discussion
  • Colin Peppard: Friends of the Earth
4:45–5:00: Fundraising
  • David Burwell
5:00-5:30: Designing a Winning Green Campaign: Discussion of Goals and Overview of Next Meeting
  • Deron Lovaas: Natural Resources Defense Council

5:30-???: Happy Hour

The Pew Environment Group
1025 F Street NW, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20004

Telephone: (202) 552-2000

RSVP

House to Debate Several Energy Proposals

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 23 Jun 2008 19:41:00 GMT

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced that the lower chamber of Congress will consider several pieces of legislation targeted at oil companies, energy markets, and transportation.

  • Reducing Transit Fares (H.R. 6052) – Gives grants to mass transit authorities to lower fares for commuters pinched at the pump and expand transit services.
  • Cracking Down on Price Gouging – Gives enforcement authority to the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and punish those who artificially inflate fuel prices, similar to legislation passed last year.
  • Closing the Enron-like “London Loophole” for Petroleum Markets – Takes steps to curb excessive speculation in the energy futures markets, which experts have noted is driving up the price of a barrel of oil.
  • “Use It Or Lose It” for Oil Companies Holding Permits and Not Drilling – Compels the oil industry to start drilling or lose permits on the 68 million acres of undeveloped federal oil reserves which they are currently warehousing, keeping domestic supply lower and prices higher.

Federal Policies for Climate-Friendly Development and Transportation

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 25 Apr 2008 14:00:00 GMT

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI) invite you to a briefing that will examine the connection between transportation policy, urban development, land use planning, and the combined role they can play in reducing U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The briefing will address policy options to be considered as a component of any comprehensive GHG reduction strategy.

The briefing will focus, in particular, on trends in the distances and time that Americans spend driving each year due to changing land use patterns, limited alternatives, transportation policies, congestion, highway operations, and other factors. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects automobile and truck use (as measured by vehicle miles traveled or VMT) to increase 48 percent by 2030. Such trends would have major implications for traffic congestion and the capacity of the U.S. transportation system to efficiently move people and freight. Increases in GHG emissions due to these trends, if unaddressed, would outweigh GHG emission reductions expected from higher fuel-economy standards contained in the recently enacted Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (P.L.110-140). Goals to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign sources of oil would be more difficult to achieve under such trends.

ULI’s newly published book Growing Cooler: The Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change surveys the best available research on the link between urban development trends, land use patterns, transportation alternatives, and greenhouse gas emissions, and identifies policy alternatives to promote more compact and energy-efficient development patterns and expand transportation choices including rail, transit, cycling, and walking. Representatives of transportation, real estate development, and local government interests will provide important perspectives on the challenges and feasibility of implementing such policies. Panelists include:

  • Reid Ewing, Professor, University of Maryland, National Center for Smart Growth
  • Steve Winkelman, Transportation Program Director, Center for Clean Air Policy
  • Geoff Anderson, President, Smart Growth America
  • John Horsley, Executive Director, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
  • Chris Zimmerman, Chair, Northern Virginia Transportation Authority; Member, Arlington County Board
  • Tom Darden,CEO, Cherokee Investment Partners LLC

The briefing will address key questions such as:

  • What transportation and land use policy options would be most effective in reducing GHG emissions?
  • What role can and should each level of government play in advancing such policy options?
  • What are the trade-offs among policy options in terms of mobility, quality of life, and consumer choice?
  • What are the opportunities and barriers to diversifying transportation choices for individuals and businesses?

This briefing is free and open to the public. No RSVP required. Please forward this notice. For more information, contact Jan Mueller, 202-662-1883 or jmueller@eesi.org

NOTE: Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) will hold a companion briefing with some of the same panelists later the same day on the House side, 2:30-4:00 pm, 2253 Rayburn House Office Bldg. Contact Paul Schmid, 202-225-1880, for more information.

Transatlantic Conference on Climate Change and Energy

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 25 Apr 2008 13:00:00 GMT

The Washington Conference will take place over two days. The first day will be an intensive expert workshop focusing on emissions from transport and biofuels use; this reflects concerns over the lack of action to address emissions from transport, rising concerns about expanded use of biofuels and pressure from some to include aviation, marine transport and road transport within cap and trade systems.

Day two will be a larger event designed to inform civil society more broadly about the differences and similarities between action in the EU and US, discuss best practice domestic solutions, demystify key policies such as the EU ETS etc. Discussions will predominantly focus on cap and trade, and the differing perceptions of actors on both sides of the Atlantic.

IEEP will be taking experts from the EU over to Washington for the event. European experts would take part in the workshop on day one, and potentially present ideas and concepts from a European perspective on day two.

If you would like to find out more about the conference please contact Sirini Withana (IEEP) or Melanie Nakagawa (NRDC).

For more information and background papers from previous T-PAGE discussions, visit the T-PAGE project website.

Location: 1616 P Street, NW, 1st Floor Conference Room
Resources for the Future building
Washington, DC 20036

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