March 15, 2009
Metropolitan Planning Organizations are required to develop Long Range Transportation Plans for their urban region every 4 or 5 years. As the vision for a region’s future transportation infrastructure, these plans provide a unique opportunity to analyze the potential green house gas emissions from vehicles in the region.
Until recently, the US has been the worlds biggest emitter of carbon dioxide emissions. Texas leads the nation with more than 10 percent of total US emissions. If Texas were a county, it would rank 7th in the world for emission levels.
Gas and diesel engines are a significant source of green house gas emissions, second only to energy generation nationally, creating the most prevalent US green house gas, carbon dioxide. In Texas, transportation emissions constitute 29 percent of emissions, falling in behind electricity generation at 34 percent and industrial uses at 33 percent.
The new Federal Administration has already taken actions to focus on green house gas emissions and at least one Member of Congress has already drafted language to require MPOs to do this analysis.
This year, the federal transportation bill expires and it is not farfetched to anticipate Congress may not only require this level of analysis, but even require Long Range Plans to result in reduced green house gas emissions over the life of the Long Range Plan.
MPOs already analyze the impact of Plans on various emissions levels. SB 1597 would put Texas ahead of the curve, expanding that analysis to specifically include green house gases.
The analysis for carbon dioxide must be quantitative using the best available methods as determined by TxDOT in consultation with the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, US EPA and TCEQ.
The analysis of other green house gases could be quantitative or qualitative.
The results of the analysis would be presented to an MPO board and the public in advance of adopting a new Long Range Plan.
To ensure MPOs have adequate notice to incorporate these analyses into their planning process, this requirement will apply only to those Plans scheduled for adoption after January 1, 2011.