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Chapter 6 Environmental Stewardship

Chapter 6 Environmental Stewardship

Environmental Stewardship Strategic Goal

Promote transportation solutions that enhance communities and protect the natural and built environment.

Outcomes

  1. Reduction in pollution and other adverse environmental effects from transportation and transportation facilities.
  2. Streamlined environmental review of transportation infrastructure projects.

Transportation exerts pressure on environmental resources worldwide. The Department must balance environmental challenges with the need for a safe and efficient transportation network. The following RD&T strategies represent the primary research topics in support of environmental stewardship:

  1. Conduct and support research to understand the various impacts of transportation activities on the natural and built environment and communities and to advance technologies and concepts to mitigate those impacts. Supports outcomes 1 and 2.
  2. Conduct and support research on ways to improve the environmental review process to achieve the timely delivery of transportation projects. Supports outcome 2.

The following sections summarize the research areas, emerging research priority, and primary RD&T activities that will advance these strategies. Appendix C shows anticipated funding levels for FY 2006 through 2010.

Understand and Mitigate Transportation Impacts

Environmental Stewardship

  • Understand and Mitigate Transportation Impacts
  • Improve the Environmental Review Process

Current trends in transportation are exerting pressure on environmental resources worldwide. In the United States, commercial and personal travel has grown substantially in recent years and will continue to increase in the future. Increased travel boosts transportation’s share of energy consumption and continues to challenge efforts to reduce air pollutant emissions. This Departmental RD&T strategy has two critical concerns: more fully understanding transportation’s impact on the environment, and advancing technologies, plans, and methods to manage these impacts.

Understanding Transportation Impacts

Research in this critical area develops improved understanding of the broad environmental impacts of aviation, highway, and hazardous materials transportation activities. The primary RD&T programs that will support this area are described below. Table 6-1 shows program milestones.

FAA

Environment and Energy. Develops and validates methodologies, models, metrics, and tools to assess and mitigate the effects of aircraft noise and emissions in a manner that balances the interrelationships between emissions and noise and includes economic consequences. Among other efforts, research will develop a better science-based understanding of the impacts of aircraft noise and emissions on air quality and climate change. This program will also support the RD&T Strategy for Global Connectivity.

FHWA

Center for Environmental Excellence (Planning and Environment). Assists States in planning and delivering environmentally sound surface transportation projects. The center will contribute to understanding and mitigating transportation impacts through the documentation and sharing of best practices. This program will also support Environmental RD&T Strategy 2 and Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategies 4 and 6.

Exploratory Advanced Research (Corporate Activities). Addresses longer term, higher risk research with potentially dramatic breakthroughs for assessing the effects of transportation decisions on human health and the environment. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 1 and Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategies 2, 3, and 4.

Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (Planning and Environment). Focuses on improving understanding of the complex relationship between surface transportation and the environment. Environmental research will improve the state of the practice regarding research that addresses the impact of transportation on the environment. This program will also support Environmental RD&T Strategy 2; Safety RD&T Strategy 1; Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategies 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6; and the RD&T Strategy for Global Connectivity.

OST

Safety, Energy, and Environment. Conducts policy research to support the formulation and recommendation of Departmental policies, plans, and guidelines related to environmental enhancement and communities, public health, and safety. In this area, research will address the issues and environmental implications related to new energy and emissions reduction technologies, particularly alternative fuels. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 1 and Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategies 1 and 5.

PHMSA

Hazardous Materials Safety R&D. Provides the foundation for PHMSA’s hazardous material regulatory, enforcement, and emergency response actions. Although PHMSA has focused on safety, such efforts have a secondary positive impact on the environment. In this research area, PHMSA will seek better ways to consider and evaluate these environmental effects. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 1, the RD&T Strategy for Global Connectivity, and Security RD&T Strategy 2.

Advancing Technologies, Plans, and Methods to Manage Impacts

Applying the knowledge gained through the research described above, RD&T in this area seeks to mitigate transportation’s negative impacts through improved environmental standards, planning tools, and technologies. The RD&T activities that will address this area are described below. Program milestones are shown in Table 6-2.

FAA

Environment and Energy. Develops and validates methodologies, models, metrics, and tools to assess and mitigate the effects of aircraft noise and emissions in a manner that balances the interrelationships between emissions and noise and includes economic consequences. Research will address improved certification standards, operational procedures, and other actions to reduce aircraft noise and seek to minimize the impact of aviation emissions. This program will also support the RD&T Strategy for Global Connectivity.

FHWA

Center for Environmental Excellence (Planning and Environment). Assists States in planning and delivering environmentally sound surface transportation projects. In this research area, the center will promote and document best practices, technology, and geospatial innovations. This program will also support Environmental RD&T Strategy 2 and Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategies 4 and 6.

Renewable Transportation Systems (Planning and Environment). Focuses on research, development, and field testing of hydrogen fuel cell and biofuel transportation technologies. The program will be carried out through an FHWA grant to the University of Vermont. (This program will be completed in FY 2006.)

Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (Planning and Environment). Focuses on improving understanding of the complex relationship between surface transportation and the environment. The program will advance technologies, plans, and methods to manage the impact of transportation on the environment. This program will also support Environmental RD&T Strategy 2; Safety RD&T Strategy 1; Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategies 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6; and the RD&T Strategy for Global Connectivity.

Emerging Research Priority: Energy Efficiency and Alternative Fuels

RD&T in this area will increase the awareness and understanding of decisionmakers, both inside and beyond the Government, as to the impact of fuel prices and fuel efficiency on the capability of the transportation system to move people and goods, the availability of opportunities to improve fuel efficiency, the transportation requirements associated with alternative fuel infrastructures, and the impact of alternative-fuel-equipped vehicles on safety. Potential initiatives include analysis of the influence of both fuel price and fuel efficiency on the demand for travel and shipments; development and analysis of fuel production, distribution, and delivery scenarios; and the safety impacts of weight reductions and alternative fuel use.

Key Supporting RD&T Programs:

  • National Fuel-Cell-Bus Technology Development
  • Protect the Environment and Promote Energy Independence
  • Hydrogen Initiative
  • Safety, Energy, and Environment
  • Advanced Vehicle Technology
  • Bio-Based Transportation
  • Hydrogen R&D
FRA

Hazardous Materials Transportation. Conducts research in hazardous materials transportation safety, damage assessment and inspection, and tank car safety. The program’s safety-related activities in tank car thermal protection, gasket materials, and operating environments will also yield benefits for environmental stewardship. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 1.

FTA

National Fuel Cell Bus Technology Development Program. Facilitates the development of commercially viable fuel cell bus technology and related infrastructure. Research will further fuel cell technology as it relates to transit bus operations, including hydrogen production, energy storage, fuel cell technologies, vehicle–system integration, and power electronics technologies.

Protect the Environment and Promote Energy Independence. Seeks to identify and overcome barriers to the adoption of technologies that will improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions from transit vehicles. A key activity will be an FTA program to encourage the deployment of new low-emission technology, including hybrid transit buses. This program will also support Environmental RD&T Strategy 2.

NHTSA

Hydrogen Initiative. Seeks to ensure that hydrogen internal-combustion-engine and fuel-cell-powered vehicles attain a level of safety comparable to other vehicles. In support of the President’s Hydrogen Initiative, NHTSA will conduct risk assessments of hydrogen-fueled vehicles to quantify potential failures that could indicate unsafe conditions. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 3.

OST

Safety, Energy, and Environment. Conducts policy research to support the formulation and recommendation of Departmental policies, plans, and guidelines related to environmental stewardship, public health, and safety. The program will identify technologies and policies that encourage sustainability; examine potential marketbased mechanisms for increasing fuel economy; analyze incentives for partnerships to support transportation needs, especially freight, while reducing community impacts; conduct research to reduce transportation emissions, including greenhouse gases, and increase transportation energy security; and research non-chemical methods of preventing the entry of potential disease-carrying insects onto aircraft. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 1 and Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategies 1 and 5.

PHMSA

Pipeline Safety R&D. Improves pipeline inspection and analysis tools and strengthens the industry’s ability to effectively manage pipeline integrity. Research will address improvements in corrosion detection technology and direct assessment techniques; tools for preventing and detecting damage and leaks; and materials that can better withstand third-party damage, corrosion, and cracking. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 1.

RITA

Advanced Vehicle Technology. Supports research and development of advanced vehicle technology concepts at the University of Kansas Transportation Research Institute. Research will focus on technologies related to vehicle emissions, fuel cells and catalytic processes, and intelligent transportation systems.

Bio-Based Transportation. Supports bio-based transportation research of national importance at the National Biodiesel Board and at various research centers identified in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. This RITA-managed grant will be funded by FHWA.

Hydrogen R&D. Supports the President’s Hydrogen Initiative through work with other agencies to evaluate hydrogen delivery infrastructure concepts, transportation and vehicle fuel system containers and components, and in-service inspection technologies. The program will support the development of appropriate consensus codes and standards. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 3.

Improve the Environmental Review Process

Environmental Stewardship

  • Understand and Mitigate Transportation Impacts
  • Improve the Environmental Review Process

A key element of the Department’s environmental stewardship goal is to balance the importance of preserving environmental quality with the need for a safe and efficient transportation network. Through this RD&T strategy, the Department is emphasizing its commitment to implementing Executive Order 13274, “Environmental Stewardship and Transportation Infrastructure Project Reviews,” signed by President Bush to speed up decisionmaking on vital airport, highway, transit, and intermodal transportation projects while safeguarding the environment. The focus of this RD&T strategy will be research in the area of environmental streamlining.

Environmental Streamlining

The objective of environmental streamlining is to balance the need for timely delivery of transportation projects with protection of the environment. The RD&T programs that will support this objective are listed below. Milestones for these programs are in Table 6-3.

FAA

Airport Cooperative Research Program. Carries out applied research on problems that are shared by airport operating agencies and that are not being adequately addressed by existing research programs. Mandated by the Vision 100—Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act, the program will be administered by the Transportation Research Board, with research projects selected by an independent governing board of airport managers and others appointed by the Secretary. This program will also support Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategy 6.

FHWA

Center for Environmental Excellence (Planning and Environment). Assists States in planning and delivering environmentally sound surface transportation projects. In this area, the center will conduct problem-solving sessions and workshops to support environmental stewardship and streamlining. This program will also support Environmental RD&T Strategy 1 and Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategies 4 and 6.

Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (Planning and Environment). Focuses on improving understanding of the complex relationship between surface transportation and the environment. The program will support research to promote environmental streamlining and stewardship. This program will also support Environmental RD&T Strategy 1; Safety RD&T Strategy 1; Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategies 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6; and the RD&T Strategy for Global Connectivity.

FTA

Protect the Environment and Promote Energy Independence. Seeks to identify and overcome barriers to the adoption of technologies that will improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions from transit vehicles. The program will respond to changes in environmental review requirements in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). This program will also support Environmental RD&T Strategy 1.