Volpe Center Supports Federal Interagency Group on Transportation, Land Use, and Climate Change
Both the nation and the Federal government face enormous challenges in confronting the issues of climate change (CC) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Responsibility for both the contributing factors to CC/GHG emissions and their impacts on our society is shared by a number of Federal agencies. The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Office of Planning, Environment and Realty sought the Volpe Center's assistance in strengthening coordination across government. Last summer, FHWA convened a meeting of agency representatives that led to the formation of the Federal Interagency Working Group on Transportation, Land Use, and Climate Change. The group seeks to align Federal programs and resources to support stakeholders in achieving GHG reductions through land use and transportation planning decisions resulting in the reduced growth of vehicle-miles traveled (VMTs) by car and truck. The Volpe Center's Multimodal Systems Research and Analysis Center of Innovation has been providing facilitation and analytical support to the Group.
Today, more than a dozen agencies from the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy,
Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Interior and Transportation (DOT), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) participate in the Working Group's
activities. Agency representatives meet monthly to develop and pursue cooperative activities that support improved land use planning, coordinated multimodal travel demand
management, and natural resource conservation practices. The Group also coordinates with new activities such as the DOT's
Livability Initiative and the joint HUD/DOT/ EPA Sustainable Communities Partnership, among others.
The Working Group has recently developed an action and strategies plan which was presented to the Working Group members' senior management at a June 2009 meeting in Washington DC. The plan, which will be further developed over the next several months, focuses on two key areas identified by the Working Group – integrated regional planning and development; and intermodal gateway mobility planning.
In the area of integrated regional planning and development, the Group recommends that Federal participants in the transportation, housing, land use, environmental, energy, and economic planning processes work together to develop regulations, incentives, and technical assistance that can aid state, regional, and local agencies in better decision-making resulting in reduced GHG emissions and reduced growth of VMT while supporting a variety of other public interest goals. The Group also recommends efforts to implement intermodal gateway regional planning by recognizing the key role that "gateway communities" play in facilitating access to National Parks and Forests, ports, and other important economic and recreational destinations. The Group recognizes the need for Federal agencies to support the development of more sustainable and climate-friendly travel and resource protection by encouraging intermodal transportation options and connectivity within and around these communities.
The Volpe Center supports several other FHWA climate change activities, including the development of a FHWA Adaptation Strategy, implementation of the Carbon Sequestration Pilot Program focused on highway right-of-way, and production of out-reach materials on climate change and transportation planning.