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As readers probably know, Wednesday was our 45th Earth Day celebration. Earth Day offers all of us us an opportunity to showcase our nation’s efforts to protect the planet. For those of us in transportation, it’s also a chance to celebrate the Earth-friendly transportation planning practices going on in all corners of the United States.

So we at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) used the occasion to announce our latest Environmental Excellence Awards, FHWA’s highest honor for those committed to protecting the environment through state-of-the-art transportation-related innovation.

This year’s winners have three things in common: creativity, passion, and imagination. And these qualities fueled their cutting-edge advances in environmental sensitivity and helped strengthen the balance between humans and nature without sacrificing mobility...

FHWA environmental award logo

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Earth Day offers all of us an opportunity to consider how the decisions we make today affect not only the quality of our air, land, and water, but also our quality of life. Our nation’s mix of transportation options, and how we keep them running, will help determine whether our nation can maintain that quality of life even as our population and our economy grow.

The essence of sustainability is making decisions today that will allow our nation to continue growing in the future while also preserving our quality of life.

And as “Beyond Traffic” makes clear, there are urgent reasons to make sustainability our byword and transit a key part of achieving that goal...

Non-diesel transit bus

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Through transportation, we can help ensure that the rungs on the ladder of opportunity aren’t so far apart —and that the American dream is still within reach for those who are willing to work for it.

I have seen the truth of this first-hand in my own family and as mayor of Charlotte, and I've been seeing it for the past two years as Secretary of Transportation.

Now, we can't give everyone a new car, of course. But we can help communities build projects that create ladders of opportunity.

Which means we can support them as they design and build projects in a way that connects people to job centers and to education, that revitalizes economically distressed neighborhoods, and that creates pathways to good jobs...

Secretary Foxx announces LadderStep in Indianapolis
Photo courtesy Sean Northup, Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization.
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If you've been reading the Fast Lane this week, then you already know about the Maritime Administration's work to reduce the emissions of waterborne shipping and NHTSA's continued effort to pursue rigorous CAFE standards for both light and heavy vehicles on America's roadways.

For me, Earth Day is a reminder of how proud I am to lead a Federal agency that has as part of its mission reducing the footprint of our transportation system even while we work to make it safer and more efficient...

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Forty-five years ago tomorrow, the world celebrated the very first Earth Day. Borne out of U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin’s call for a day of education about threats to our air, land, water, and public health, Earth Day helped ignite the global environmental movement.

Today, while the environmental challenges have changed, Earth Day is as relevant as ever, particularly in light of the threat of global climate change.

At NHTSA, we’ve taken up President Obama’s call to confront the climate crisis. Working with our partners at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we’ve set fuel efficiency standards for cars, light trucks, and heavy duty vehicles that will greatly reduce transportation-related carbon emissions that contribute to global climate change. We’ve also worked to make healthier and environmentally friendly transportation options, such as biking and walking, more attractive to more Americans by making them safer...

David Friedman addresses crowd at NHTSA Earth Day event

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Every year, car buyers and auto enthusiasts await the release of Detroit's new models. It's an exciting moment to see what some of America's most innovative design and engineering teams can produce. But unlike cars, new models of American-made shipping vessels don't roll out every year.

From idea to service, new ships are usually 20 years in the making. So you can imagine how excited the maritime community is to see what rolled off the NASSCO shipyard line in San Diego this past weekend: the world's first Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) powered container ship.

Isla Bella rolls into water

The launch of this next generation of American-made vessels, commissioned by TOTE Maritime, was financed in part by a $324.6 million Title XI Loan Guarantee from the Maritime Administration (MARAD).  The new 764-foot Isla Bella includes a number of innovative technological advances. The key feature, of course, is that by burning LNG instead of diesel, it will significantly reduce harmful emissions...

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Please note that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has also published a blog post today on their site: Crude Oil Transport: Working Together to Protect Public Health and Safety.

Since 2013, more than two dozen derailments of trains transporting large quantities of crude oil have occurred, including four this year alone. As DOT pursues a comprehensive rulemaking designed to strengthen tank cars, implement appropriate operational controls, and improve emergency response, we are also taking other actions today that will have an immediate impact on safety.

The boom in crude oil production, and transportation of that crude, poses a serious threat to public safety. The measures we are announcing today are a result of lessons learned from recent accidents and are steps we are able to take today to improve safety. 

Our efforts in partnership with agencies throughout this Administration show that this is more than a transportation issue, and we are not done yet...

Oil train

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This Sunday marks the 20th anniversary of the bombing in Oklahoma City.

While DOT men and women are often called upon to respond to the scene of tragedies that strike our Nation’s transportation system, until then they never expected to find tragedy in their offices. But that is what happened on April 19, 1995, when a terrorist’s bomb destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. 

Among the 168 victims that day were eight employees of the Federal Highway Administration and three from what is now known as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration...

Field of empty chairs at OKC National Memorial

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Each and every day, brave men and women are serving around the world in our Nation’s Armed Forces.  They work tirelessly to keep both us and our allies safe and secure while supporting democracy and defending human rights when and where needed.  As Maritime Administrator, I’m proud that the Maritime Administration (MARAD) plays a key role ensuring that waterborne sealift supports our capabilities to globally deploy and sustain our military forces. 

That is why I was so pleased to participate in the Navy League of the 50th Anniversary Navy League Sea-Air-Space Exposition this week.  This brings together leaders in the transportation, military, and defense industry sectors that support our sea services –U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine— and strengthen America’s ability to respond to crises overseas...

MSP vessel Green Lake

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Two weeks ago, we announced availability of our latest round of TIGER grants.  But our obligation does not end there.  We have a responsibility to ensure that America’s taxpayers get the best possible outcomes, and that means helping interested communities develop the best possible TIGER grant applications.

So today, DOT is gathering at our headquarters more than 250 grantees and potential applicants –with more than 500 viewing online.  At this TIGER Summit, we will discuss the features of successful TIGER applications and projects, guide recipients to better implement TIGER grants, and prepare applicants to navigate the competitive TIGER process.  Later today, we’ll also brief Congressional staff about the value of TIGER.

Transportation photo collage

The Department goes to great lengths to select and invest in the best projects.  But the best projects don’t automatically jump off the page in a grant application...

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