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New Strategies for Reducing Transportation Emissions and Preparing for Climate Impacts

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Abstract: The transportation sector is becoming the largest source of greenhouse gas ( "GHG ") emissions in the United States. The Obama Administration put in place federal vehicle and fuel standards that are significantly reducing emissions. However, these regulations will be insufficient to put the United States on track to achieve needed reductions needed long-term. This is especially true if the 2025 standards announced by the Obama Administration are rolled back by the new Trump Administration. Because current federal standards alone will not attain ambitious climate goals and may be rolled back, state and local activity is essential to make progress towards meeting emissions reduction goals. This Article focuses on four underappreciated strategies that will be critical to catalyzing a shift to a low-carbon, resilient transportation sector in the United States. First, federal vehicle and fuel standards should be complemented by federal and state strategies to promote the adoption of lower-emission and zero-emission vehicles. Second, it will be critical to develop tools and practices that integrate GHG reduction planning into transportation decision-making. Third, resilience to climate impacts should be incorporated into transportation planning and investments. Finally, to achieve these goals and make the necessary investments, the broken transportation funding system should be replaced or complemented by new mechanisms that can sustainably fund our transportation system during this period of transition and beyond. This Article highlights existing models and emerging approaches for all of these strategies, but argues that broad implementation must accelerate to meet GHG emission reduction goals and prepare for climate impacts. Presented at colloquium: Getting There from Here: An Exploration of Regionalism and Transportation in the United States.

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