Now, before we get carried away thinking about protecting our planet on this special day, let's please remember that we need to work toward sustaining the Earth every day.
And here at DOT, we are doing exactly that. From marine highways that promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from roadway congestion to new CAFE standards for better motor vehicle fuel-efficiency to the NextGen air traffic control system that promises to help lower aviation fuel consumption, sustainability is one of the watchwords of this agency.
Here is a brief survey of the activities your DOT is pursuing to help protect our planet.
Let's start with our agency-wide Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse, an excellent website that "includes information on greenhouse gas inventories, GHG emissions reduction strategies, potential impacts of climate change on transportation infrastructure, and approaches for integrating climate change considerations into transportation decision making."
Also, on this Earth Day, we have released a study, “Transportation’s Role in Reducing U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” that analyzes the full range of strategies available to reduce transportation’s greenhouse gas emissions, from more efficient vehicle technologies to better ways of operating our transportation system.
For instance, hybrid vehicles could reduce emissions 26 – 54% for 2030 and beyond, and more direct and efficient airline operations could reduce aviation emissions 10% by 2025. Livability initiatives also play a role, with improved public transportation, land use strategies, and greater opportunities for walking and biking bringing reductions of 5 to 17% by 2030.
Within our various operating agencies, there is even more good stuff going on.
At the Federal Transit Agency, just about everything we do works toward sustainability. Take, for example, our Transit Investment for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) program. $75 million was appropriated in December for FTA to providing direct funding to public transit agencies for "capital investments that will assist in reducing the energy consumption or greenhouse gas emissions of their public transportation systems." This is in addition to the 43 projects that received $100 million last year and that promote the use and development of energy efficient technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.
To complement TIGGER, FTA also will award approximately $81.2 million under the Clean Fuels Grant program. But that's not all. FTA will further our sustainability goals by allowing applicants not eligible under the Clean Fuels Grant program to apply for projects that promote clean fuels; we'll support those projects with additional Bus and Bus Facilities program funds.
FTA also has its own website on Public Transportation's Role in Responding to Climate Change. In addition to a fine report with the same name, the site also has a really cool Carbon Calculator. This tool lets you know how many pounds of greenhouse gas emissions you can keep out of our atmosphere every day by using public transit instead of driving.
They've also prepared a Climate Change flyer for easy reference and fast facts. For example, did you know that public transportation produces significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile than private vehicles? It's true. Heavy rail transit, such as subways, produce 76% less greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile than an average single-occupancy vehicle. Light rail produces 62% less, and bus transit produces 33% less. That's a much gentler carbon footprint for the planet.
Over at the Federal Highway Administration, they're also plenty busy this Earth Day.
Administrator Victor Mendez will hold a special agency-wide teleconference on Going Greener. Now, first of all, it's important to know that FHWA has field offices around the country, so holding this discussion as a video teleconference is itself a great way to save fuel and keep greenhouse gas emissions down.
Administrator Mendez will share the green initiatives of two FHWA offices and encourage all FHWA offices to finalize their own Green Plans. One example he'll discuss is the Kentucky office's decision to install carpeting made from recycled plastic bottles. I haven't seen the carpeting myself, but it sounds like a great innovation.
He'll also announce two new FHWA internal awards. One will go "to the individual who makes the most significant effort to help FHWA adance as a greener organization." The other will go "to the office within FHWA that demonstrates the greatest amount of green leadership."
By the way, FHWA is partnering with the Anacostia Watershed Society in an Anacostia River Clean-up and Earth Day Celebration this Saturday, April 24. Administrator Mendez will be there, and he'll be joined by many of the good people at FHWA.
And at the Federal Aviation Administration, they are anticipating greenhouse gas emissions savings from the NextGen air traffic control system, which promises more direct flight routes and fewer holding patterns.
But they're also excited about the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), which "seeks to enhance energy security and environmental sustainability for aviation through alternative jet fuels." This is a unique coalition of stakeholders, including FAA, the Air Transport Association of America, the Aerospace Industries Association, and the Airports Council International.
In truth, there is much more to talk about with regard to DOT efforts on behalf of a more sustainable American transportation system. Let's just say that I'm truly proud to be part of an agency that is working night and day to keep people and goods moving across the country while also enhancing sustainability.
As the good folks at earthday.org make clear: "While climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, it also presents the greatest opportunity--an unprecedented opportunity to build a healthy, prosperous, clean energy economy now and for the future."
I am proud of what DOT employees are doing to seize that opportunity, and I encourage all of you to do the same.