4 Federal Departments Team Up to ‘Decarbonize’ America’s Roads

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  • The Departments of Energy, Transport, Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency will work together on the grand task of implementing President Biden’s previously set goals for a zero-emissions net economy by 2050.
  • The agency will present details of their decarbonization plan in the next 90 days, but we can already say that it will focus on getting more EVs onto the road as well as making other transportation options safer, cleaner and more accessible.
  • Two cities, Denver and Detroit, announced plans this week not to simply add more highways through their city center, but to rethink what could be done with that space.
president biden visits north america auto show in detroit

Bill Pugliano|Getty Images

It’s not just electric vehicles that will reduce the amount of carbon produced by the US transportation system. The Biden-Harris Administration announced today that four federal agencies—the Department of Energy, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency—have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector and “ensure resilient and accessible mobility options for all Americans.”

President Biden (pictured, above, at this week’s Detroit auto show) previously set an economically net zero emissions goal by 2050. Achieving that will require more than just getting lots of EVs and hydrogen semis on the road. The MOU said the four parties would work together “to achieve better integration of transportation, housing and community development investments in underserved or disadvantaged communities.”

Detailed Blueprint Coming Soon

The four agencies now have 90 days to release a “comprehensive blueprint for the decarbonization of the transport sector.” The plan will almost certainly include projects that increase access to what the government considers safe and clean transportation options, as well as updating the power grid for more EVs and reducing emissions from construction, the government said.

Some of this work has already started, thanks to billions of dollars in net transport investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act in 2021 and the Inflation Reduction Act last summer. The government announcement said the four agencies would increase access to “more efficient modes of transportation such as walking, cycling, transit and rail, while lowering the cost of electric vehicles and other zero-emissions vehicles and fuels to allow American families and businesses the opportunity to immediately enjoy the benefits.” of the affordable clean energy revolution.”

Downtown Change

Such a transition can be seen in some potentially tangentially related news. Two of America’s major cities announced plans this week to convert downtown highways into more livable urban spaces. Michigan will use a $104.6 million grant from the Department of Transportation to replace the I-375 freeway in Detroit with a lower-speed boulevard, Detroit News reported. In Denver, plans to expand I-25 Central were replaced by plans to spend more than $100 million to upgrade the region’s rapid transit system and improve road safety along the I-25 corridor.

This is the type of plan HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge might refer to in her statement of the four-agency MOU.

“Communities served by HUD deserve clean and affordable transportation options,” said the Regional Secretary in his remarks. “HUD is proud to join forces with our federal partners at Energy, DOT, and EPA to ensure that clean transportation investments are made fairly and include the communities and households most harmed by environmental injustices.”

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