Washington, D.C. — The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) May 19 decision to suspend a controversial Obama Administration proposal requiring the tracking of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation improvements will help save taxpayer dollars and prevent those projects from additional unnecessary delays, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) says.
The proposal was part of larger performance measures required under the July 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) surface transportation law. ARTBA had previously argued the measure exceeded “both the authority of the FHWA and the intent of MAP-21.”
The association first raised objections to the measure back in August 2016 comments, noting that neither Congress nor the administration sought emission measurements in the MAP-21 performance management process, and that such a proposal was subsequently not included in the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation” (FAST) Act reauthorization law passed in December 2015.
ARTBA then followed up the comments by meeting with House and Senate staff, as well as Office of Management and Budget (OMB) officials, to express its concerns. The association also convened a group of nearly 40 trade associations on a letter to FHWA stating, “The simple fact is that MAP-21 was approved with broad bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate and the inclusion of an unrelated GHG proposal violates this bipartisan spirit. It is hard to see this proposal as anything other than a maneuver to achieve a policy objective the prior administration failed to advance in the appropriate legislative arena.”
On a related note, ARTBA also warned the agency not to exceed its authority three years ago, when it urged the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) not to jeopardize the broad bipartisan congressional support for MAP-21 by including extraneous issues — such as climate change — in the law’s implementation. Specifically, a 2013 ARTBA task force cautioned:
“Focus on the goals enumerated in the law. The authors of MAP-21 had the opportunity to include a host of external goals such as livability, reduction of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, reduction of reliance on foreign oil, adaptation to the effects of climate change, public health, housing, land-use patterns and air quality in the planning and performance process….the U.S. Department of Transportation should focus on implementing the goals and standards as spelled out in MAP-21.”