The climate bill introduced on September 30 by Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) includes numerous provisions for increasing transportation efficiency. The proposed legislation requires states and larger metropolitan areas to craft plans to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation, lays out incentives for the U.S. auto industry to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles, sets emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks, and invests in public transportation projects.

A related bill to reduce transportation emissions co-sponsored by Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Arlen Specter (D-PA) in the Senate and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and others in the House was introduced in March. The bill, known as Clean-TEA, would require “states and metropolitan planning organizations to develop targets and plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.”

The transportation sector is responsible for 70 percent of domestic oil consumption and nearly 30 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to climate change . Emissions from transportation are growing faster than other sectors, representing almost half of the increase in total GHG emissions between 1990 and 2006.

In July 2009, the Urban Land Institute and a broad coalition of environmental organizations, federal agencies, transportation experts, and trade associations released a report titled Moving Cooler: An Analysis of Transportation Strategies for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions . In the analysis, experts noted that reducing fuel consumption by transitioning to more efficient vehicles and fuel sources could save at least 110 million barrels of oil a year. At the same time, such actions could save consumers up to an estimated $112 billion annually in direct vehicle costs over a 40‐year timeframe.

The report also noted that implementing a combination of efficient transportation strategies, such as expanding transit options in tandem with land use changes, is significantly more effective than pursuing individual efforts to reduce emissions from transportation. According to the report, by coordinating and changing transportation systems and operations, travel behavior, land use patterns, as well as public policies and regulations, annual GHG emissions could be reduced by up to 24 percent below baseline levels in 2050.

On Wednesday, October 21, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) will host a Congressional briefing on strategies to reduce oil consumption and GHG emissions from the surface transportation sector. A panel of experts will address challenges to implementing proposed legislative strategies and discuss methods for overcoming these obstacles.

On Thursday, October 22, EESI will hold another briefing that will release information from a new report commissioned by the American Public Transportation Association that focuses on job creation and other economic impacts associated with investments in public transportation.