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72 CHAPTER 6 Conclusion Information on the impacts of various policies on the freight much broader segment of the transportation sector than just system is ultimately useful only if it improves future policy freight (e.g., all motor vehicles or all aircraft), then the analysis decisions. The previous chapters offer examples of how pub- may not consider those impacts that are freight-specific. Alter- lic policy decisions have affected the freight transportation natively, if the regulation is enacted at the state or local level or system and the extent to which those impacts were unexpected. imposed by Congress, there may be no requirement for any It is also useful to consider the context in which policy decisions analysis of industry impacts. Finally, freight system impacts may are made in order to understand how better information on not be analyzed simply because they are not recognized or are impacts might improve policy decisions. considered negligible or too difficult to quantify. For our purposes, decision context has two significant ele- Then there are all the policies that do not involve regula- ments: (1) the information about, and understanding of, tions directly applicable to freight carriers. Most decisions the freight system impacts that is available to the decision- about infrastructure investment, pricing, trade, land use, and makers; and (2) the constituency to which the decision- energy/climate change fall in this category, as do some envi- makers must answer and what that constituency expects of ronmental, safety, and security regulations. Although these the decisionmakers. types of policy decisions rarely benefit from a forward-looking analysis of freight system impacts, these decisions may have the greatest and most far-reaching impacts on the freight system. Availability of Information Table 6-1 shows these three categories of policies with on Impacts of Policies examples of each. These categories are necessarily generaliza- As illustrated in Chapters 4 and 5, there is great variation tions and numerous exceptions exist. For example, although in the quality and depth of analysis of freight system impacts most states and local governments do not perform a system- done in advance of a policy decision and the degree to which atic analysis of the industry impacts of truck idling regula- results are available to decisionmakers. Many of the policy tions, California did undertake such an analysis. examples reviewed in this study involve rules and regulations established by Federal agencies that apply directly to freight Decisionmaker Constituencies carriers. Most of the safety, security, and environmental poli- cies fall in this category. The Federal rulemaking process The other element of the decision context concerns the typically requires that freight industry impacts be analyzed in institutional and political setting in which decisions adverse to these instances. These analyses may not be perfect. For exam- the freight system are made. In some cases, good information ple, they often estimate only cost to an industry segment on freight-system impacts would make little difference in a and do not extend the analysis to impacts on systemwide per- policy decision because the decisionmakers are responding to formance, modal competition, and so forth. Nonetheless, other imperatives. One example of this would be restrictions such analyses provide an opportunity for (1) decisionmakers on truck traffic on local roads imposed by local or state gov- to consider freight system impacts and (2) stakeholders to ernments. From the point of view of a city council or county comment on the analyses. board, by far the dominant issue may be quality of life in the Other regulations apply directly to freight carriers for which affected area. Concerns about the efficiency of freight move- an analysis of freight system impacts is generally not performed, ment will likely carry little weight in such decisions. An excep- for various reasons. For example, if the regulation applies to a tion might occur if a significant local employer were damaged