SPECIAL REPORT 299
A Transportation Research Program for Mitigating and Adapting to Climate Change and Conserving Energy
Transportation Research Board
Transportation Research Board Special Report 299
IA planning and administration
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Copyright 2009 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.
NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance.
This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to the procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.
This study was sponsored by the Transportation Research Board.
Typesetting by Circle Graphics.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
National Research Council (U.S.). Committee for Study on Transportation Research Programs to Address Energy and Climate Change.
A transportation research program for mitigating and adapting to climate change and conserving energy / Committee for Study on Transportation Research Programs to Address Energy and Climate Change, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies.
p. cm.—(Transportation Research Board special report ; 299) 1. Transportation—Environmental aspects—United States. 2. Energy conservation—Government policy—United States. 3. Greenhouse gas mitigation—Government policy—United States. 4. Research—United States—Evaluation. 5. Transportation and state—United States. I. Title.
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. On the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.
The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, on its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.
The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both the Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.
The Transportation Research Board is one of six major divisions of the National Research Council. The mission of the Transportation Research Board is to provide leadership in transportation innovation and progress through research and information exchange, conducted within a setting that is objective, interdisciplinary, and multimodal. The Board’s varied activities annually engage about 7,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation. www.TRB.org
Committee for Study on Transportation Research Programs to Address Energy and Climate Change
Michael D. Meyer,
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta,
J. Barry Barker,
Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, Kentucky
Emil H. Frankel,
Bipartisan Policy Center, Washington, D.C.
Edward A. Helme,
Center for Clean Air Policy, Washington, D.C.
Adib K. Kanafani,
University of California, Berkeley
Debra L. Miller,
Kansas Department of Transportation, Topeka
Michael R. Morris,
North Central Texas Council of Governments, Arlington
Transportation Research Board Staff
Stephen R. Godwin, Director,
Studies and Special Programs
In mid-2008, the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Executive Committee recognized that major legislation might be enacted in 2009 that could have profound effects on future surface transportation policies at all levels of government. The congressional reauthorization of surface transportation legislation, then due by October 1, 2009, was being considered, and the United States Senate was debating proposals to address climate change through a system that would regulate the total amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that could be emitted annually. As the sector with the fastest-growing share of carbon dioxide emissions (the main transportation GHG), transportation was sure to be affected by such legislation.
The Executive Committee recognized that new research and policy analysis would be needed to inform decisions at all levels of government in responding to the challenges of reducing transportation energy consumption and GHG emissions. In reviewing proposals for transportation research programs as part of reauthorizing the federal surface transportation program, the Executive Committee also recognized a gap: no proposals explicitly addressed research to mitigate GHG emissions and energy consumption attributable to passenger and freight travel or to adapt to climate change. Also of concern was the lack of discussion and analysis concerning how proposals to change travel demand might interact with the system in place to raise revenues for surface transportation. Currently, about two-thirds of the revenues raised from users to help pay for the construction, maintenance, and operation of highway and transit systems—more than $100 billion annually—comes from motor fuel taxes on highway
users.1 In response to its concerns about gaps in proposed research programs, the Executive Committee recommended a study to suggest research programs to fill those gaps. This report is the product of that study.
STATEMENT OF TASK
The Executive Committee and the National Research Council (NRC) approved the following statement of task:
This project will develop research program proposals that would address major questions and technical issues regarding transportation strategies to mitigate energy consumption and GHG emissions, replace or supplement fuel taxes with an alternative user fee system, and adapt to expected climate changes. Given the relatively short time frame available for the project, the research program proposals will be conceptual in nature. Nonetheless, they will have enough detail to provide policy makers with information about the nature of the research programs that are needed, the approximate cost of these programs, and how they could be most effectively organized to deliver implementable results in a timely manner.
The Executive Committee’s intent was to identify research needs with regard to policies and strategies relating to the use of the transportation system and to assist infrastructure owners in adapting to climate change. Policies and governmental research programs concerning motor vehicle fuels and propulsion systems have been and are being addressed by other recent and ongoing NRC activities;2 thus, this report does not recommend research on motor vehicles or fuels. The report focuses on surface
For additional background on these issues, see Special Report 285: The Fuel Tax and Alternatives for Transportation Funding, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C., 2006.
In particular, see the reports released while this study was under way: America’s Energy Future: Technology and Transformation: Summary Edition, National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2009 (http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12710) and Liquid Transportation Fuels from Coal and Biomass: Technological Status, Costs, and Environmental Impacts, National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2009 (http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12620). Some recent examples of NRC studies evaluating federal research programs addressing transportation vehicles are cited in Chapter 2.
transportation infrastructure and operations, specifically on research programs that could provide guidance to officials at all levels responsible for policies that affect the use of such infrastructure and its operation, maintenance, and construction. The report also aims to help officials begin to adapt the infrastructure to climate changes that are already occurring or that are expected to occur in the next several decades.
Even this narrowing of the scope of the charge leaves the committee open to take stock of a vast literature in transportation economics, planning, land use policy, design, construction, maintenance, and operations and to consider insights that might be drawn from this material to develop transportation mitigation and adaptation strategies. Given the constraints of time and funding, the committee has addressed this task by applying its judgment to gaps in the literature and by recommending deeper inquiries into the existing knowledge base to inform public policy as an essential element of the research program it identifies.
NRC appointed a committee of experts to conduct this study under the chairmanship of Michael D. Meyer of the Georgia Institute of Technology. The members have expertise in transportation and environmental policy, administration of transportation programs, and research. The background and affiliations of the members are described at the end of this document. To carry out the study, the committee organized its work into three areas, two of which built on the prior work of NRC-appointed committees:
To inform its thinking about needed research on mitigation policies, the committee commissioned a paper by Cynthia Burbank of PB, Inc.
In the area of adaptation, the committee commissioned a paper by Sue McNeil of the University of Delaware to develop and expand on the research recommendations in TRB’s Special Report 290: Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation, which was published in 2008.
With regard to alternatives to the motor fuel tax for transportation finance and linkages to environmental policies, the committee com-
missioned a paper by James Whitty and John Svadlenak of the Oregon Department of Transportation, both of whom had been centrally involved in Oregon’s multiyear demonstration program of mileage charging concepts. These authors were asked to build on the recommendations made in Special Report 285: The Fuel Tax and Alternatives for Transportation Funding.
Initial drafts of these papers were presented and discussed at special sessions held during the 2009 TRB Annual Meeting [in a session of the TRB Executive Committee, in a joint meeting with a World Road Association (Permanent International Association of Road Congresses) committee on the environment and the TRB Special Task Force on Climate Change and Energy, and in a working meeting of the Special Task Force]. The authors responded to comments. The committee has drawn on the commissioned papers in the development of its report. Copies of the finished papers are available on the TRB website.
Since the initiation of this study, other major reports have recommended research and demonstration programs to test the concept of mileage taxes as a replacement or supplement to the motor fuel tax, which, along with other considerations, led the committee to give this topic less emphasis in its report. The recommendations of these other reports and the linkage of mileage tax proposals to potential transportation mitigation policies are referred to in Chapter 3 and summarized in more detail in Appendix A of this report.
The committee received briefings at its meetings from Jack Wells of the U.S. Department of Transportation; Ken Adler, Megan Susman, and John Thomas of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Charles Kooshian of the Center for Clean Air Policy; John Heywood of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Steven Plotkin of Argonne National Laboratory; and Joanne Potter of Cambridge Systematics. The committee thanks these individuals for their contributions. The committee also expresses its appreciation to Cynthia Burbank, Sue McNeil, James Whitty, and John Svadlenak, whose contributions and efforts in preparing their commissioned papers far exceed the compensation the committee was able to provide to them.
The report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise in accordance with procedures approved by NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that assist the authors and NRC in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The contents of the review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. The committee thanks the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: A. Ray Chamberlain, Fort Collins, Colorado; Randall D. Crane, University of California, Los Angeles; David L. Greene, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Knoxville, Tennessee; Maxine L. Savitz, Los Angeles, California; Henry G. (Gerry) Schwartz, Jr., St. Louis, Missouri; Martin Wachs, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California; and Richard N. Wright, Montgomery Village, Maryland.
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the committee’s conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Susan Hanson, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, and C. Michael Walton, University of Texas at Austin. Appointed by NRC, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of the report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
Stephen R. Godwin, TRB’s Director of Studies and Special Programs, managed the study and drafted the final report under the guidance of the committee. Suzanne Schneider, Associate Executive Director of TRB, managed the report review process. Special appreciation is expressed to Norman Solomon, who edited the report; Jennifer J. Weeks, who prepared and formatted the report for web posting; and Juanita Green, who managed the book design and production, all under the supervision of Javy Awan, Director of Publications. Amelia Mathis assisted with meeting arrangements and communications with committee members.
AASHTO American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
ACCRI Aviation Climate Change Research Initiative
BAA Broad Agency Announcement
BTS Bureau of Transportation Statistics
Btu British thermal unit
CAFE Corporate Average Fuel Economy
CBO Congressional Budget Office
CCAP Center for Clean Air Policy
CFS Commodity Flow Survey
DOE U.S. Department of Energy
EERE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
FAA Federal Aviation Administration
FHWA Federal Highway Administration
FRA Federal Railroad Administration
FTA Federal Transit Administration
GCRP Global Change Research Program
GDP gross domestic product
GHG greenhouse gas
GPS Global Positioning System
HFCV hydrogen fuel cell vehicle
ICT information and communication technology
ITS intelligent transportation systems
LDV light-duty vehicle
LED light-emitting diode
MPO metropolitan planning organization
NAS National Academy of Sciences
NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NGO nongovernmental organization
NHTS National Household Travel Survey
NOAA National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
NOx nitrogen oxides
NRC National Research Council
NSF National Science Foundation
PTC positive train control
RITA Research and Innovative Technology Administration
SAFETEA-LU Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users
STEP Surface Transportation Environment and Planning
SUV sport-utility vehicle
TCRP Transit Cooperative Research Program
TMIP Travel Model Improvement Program
TOD transit-oriented development
TRB Transportation Research Board
USDOT U.S. Department of Transportation
UTC University Transportation Centers
VMT vehicle miles traveled