Federal Plan Takes Aim at Transportation Emissions

The U.S. National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization is designed to guide federal investment and regulations, focusing on electrification with a nod to transit investment and walkability.

2 minute read

January 10, 2023, 12:00 PM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


View of cars in traffic from behind with visible tailpipe emissions

NadyGinzburg / Tailpipe emissions

A ‘first of its kind’ federal plan sets out goals for cutting carbon emissions in the transportation sector, but postpones the biggest reductions to the 2030s and 2040s, according to an article by Ian Duncan in the Washington Post. “The blueprint doesn’t set out new, enforceable targets, but serves as a long-term guide for federal agencies tasked with writing climate rules and spending environmental funds,” Duncan explains.

The plan is based on three concepts: ‘convenient,’ which includes promoting more walkable communities; ‘efficient,’ including modes of transportation like buses and trains; and ‘clean,’ for fuels like batteries and hydrogen.

The plan relies on the adoption of electric vehicles for most of the reductions. As Duncan notes, “The infrastructure law included $7.5 billion for charging infrastructure, split between a network along highways that officials hope will give drivers confidence to take electric vehicles on long road trips, and a program designed to ensure that disadvantaged communities have access to chargers.” The law also includes a $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit (though it notably excludes credits for electric bikes). However, Duncan points out that “Electric vehicles accounted for less than 1 percent of miles driven in 2021 in the United States,” and the growing popularity of large trucks and SUVs is slowing any gains in emissions reduction.

Meanwhile, “many environmental advocates have urged state transportation agencies to limit the construction of new highways that tend to encourage driving, and instead invest money in alternative infrastructure, such as bus lanes and bike paths.” According to a Georgetown Climate Center study, “if money from the infrastructure law were invested in such green projects, it could contribute a further percentage point cut to emissions over the course of the decade.”

For more information, also see a U.S. Department of Transportation press release announcing the U.S. National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization. The blueprint is also available online at the U.S. Department of Energy website.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023 in The Washington Post

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

May 21, 2024 - The Architect's Newspaper

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Ornate, tan stone capitol building with a gold dome roof and low-rise city buildings in the background.

States Are Banning Guaranteed Income Programs

Four states now have laws in place that prevent cities and counties from creating or continuing guaranteed income programs, and several more have tried or are trying.

May 23, 2024 - Bloomberg CityLab

California Governor Gavin Newsom announcing funding for tiny home shelter project in front of quick-build tiny home shelter unit.

California’s Tiny Home Pledge Still on Paper, One Year Later

A promise to fund 1,200 tiny homes for unhoused residents in four cities as a way to rapidly and cost-effectively provide shelter has yet to yield tangible results, but projects are moving ahead in some cities.

May 24 - CALmatters

Residential neighborhood in Colorado with fall foliage and snowy mountains in background.

Colorado Ends Non-Family Occupancy Limits

Local jurisdictions will no longer be able to limit how many unrelated adults can live in a household, a move that supporters say will help lower housing costs and help older adults supplement their incomes and stay in their homes.

May 24 - Strong Towns

A white crosswalk painted by Crosswalk Collective LA in Los Angeles, California.

Guerilla Urbanism Spurs Action From Cities

Rather than take a hostile approach to DIY urbanism, some cities are using guerilla efforts as an opportunity to understand critical infrastructure gaps.

May 24 - Smart Cities Dive

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.