AGC and House Transportation Committee Tell FHWA That Greenhouse Gas Proposal Is Unauthorized

In comments filed on Aug. 19, AGC questioned the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) authority to measure greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as part of its proposal for performance measurements as directed by Congress in the MAP-21 and FAST Act legislation. House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and 30 members of the committee also sent a letter telling FHWA that the proposal exceeds its authority for this action.

Creation of national performance goals and measures to improve decision making and accountability of state departments of transportation and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) was a significant policy directive in both transportation authorization bills. AGC supported the inclusion of these requirements and believes that they will be helpful in not only making the best transportation investment decisions but in making the case with the American public that their user fee and general tax dollars are being used wisely. However, in a nod to the Obama Administration’s climate change agenda, FHWA went beyond measuring congestion and freight movement and suggested that it was also contemplating goals for CO2 as well, including emissions from off road construction vehicles, without detailing how it intended to do this.

In addition to questioning the legal basis of the proposal, AGC’s comments detailed the many reasons why this would not be a good idea. The comments pointed out that congestion relief significantly reduces GHG emissions because vehicle engines operate more efficiently and with less emissions when operated at a steady speed rather than stop and go or at reduced speeds. The proposed GHG measures would be used as part of the transportation planning process and could prevent significant congestion relief projects from moving forward. AGC also pointed out that states and MPOs are already dealing with significant new standards for other air pollutants that will be difficult for local areas to meet and the unauthorized addition of GHG emissions will further complicate compliance. AGC supported other measures in the proposal that are more in line with Congressional intent to measure the impact of transportation improvements on congestion, freight movement and other air quality standards.

For more information, please contact AGC’s Brian Deery at or (703) 837-5319.

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