Transporting people and goods accounts for 34 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and approximately 70 percent of all U.S. oil use, at 13.5 million barrels of oil per day. Optimizing the accessibility and operational efficiency of the nation’s transportation network can enable a 60 to 90 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2050, and at the same time increase the nation’s economic competitiveness, enhance its citizens’ living standards, and provide energy security. This can be accomplished by:
- improving communities so that walking, bicycling and public transportation are feasible, attractive options;
- building a highly inter-modal (water, rail, air, road, pipeline) transportation network enabling the most efficient mode(s) to be used for each trip and;
- using fuels and technologies that increase modal energy efficiency and reduce carbon intensity, such as vehicles powered by alternative fuels and electricity.
The world and the nation have changed since 1991. Energy security, rising fuel prices, climate change, and global economic competitiveness have become more urgent issues at a time when the U.S. transportation and infrastructure system has fallen into a state of disrepair. A 2013 Report Card by the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the United States an overall infrastructure grade of D+; roads received a D, bridges a C+, and transit a D. In order to improve the condition of U.S. surface transportation infrastructure to “Good,” the report estimates an annual funding gap of $94 billion needs to be addressed. A robust and well funded transportation and infrastructure reauthorization is necessary for the United States to maintain its competitive edge and propel economic growth.
The convergence or “perfect storm” of energy, climate, economic, and funding crises points to both the opportunity and the need for a new federal approach to meeting our transportation needs. EESI is working with business, labor, environmental, housing, energy, and other diverse interests to develop a federal transportation policy that meets the nation’s needs for the 21st century.