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ICYMI: This Earth Day, U.S. Department of Transportation Highlights Key Climate Accomplishments Over Past Year

Friday, April 22, 2022

Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) celebrates Earth Day and recognizes the agency’s key accomplishments in the last year in support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to fight climate change and advance environmental justice.

The Department's actions to address climate change are supported by the historic investments made by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which contains the nation’s largest ever sustained investments in electric vehicle charging and public transit, as well as the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak. The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also makes significant investments in resilience essential to begin to retrofit our infrastructure to withstand the extreme weather that is already here today.  

Here are some of the key accomplishments of the Department over the past year: 

Accelerating the growth of a national electric vehicle (EV) charging network: Earlier this year DOT, along with the Department of Energy (DOE), announced a $5 billion investment over five years to allow states to build out the backbone of a national EV charging network along the nation’s highway system to help meet the administration’s goal for electric cars to represent 50% of all new car sales by 2030. DOT and DOE also created a new joint office to work together to accelerate the creation and deployment of infrastructures to support EVs and to ensure America wins the EV market for the future. 

Cleaner, More Convenient Public Transit: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law represents the single largest investment in public transportation in history. As part of the historic $5.5 billion expansion of the Low- and No-Emission Vehicle Program, DOT announced in March $1.1 billion in funding for 2022 and an additional $372 million under the Bus and Bus Facilities program available in 2022. The Low-No Program helps state and local governments purchase U.S.-built electric transit buses and other cleaner models to improve local air quality and expand affordable, accessible transportation options in communities across the country. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law increased Low-No program funding by ten times compared to the prior five years. Also, as a result of changes enacted in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the grants will dedicate funding to workforce training that helps protect and upskill transit workers – ensuring that those who work on transit vehicles today are ready to do so in the future. 

Keeping Transit on Track: To keep transit workers on the payroll and transit services running, DOT also announced this spring $2.2 billion in funding to 35 transit agencies across 18 states through the President’s American Rescue Plan.

Finalized strongest ever passenger vehicle fuel economy standards: In keeping with President Biden’s Executive Order 13990, DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finalized new fuel efficiency standards for model years 2024-2026. NHTSA projects the final standards will save consumers nearly $1,400 in total fuel expenses over the lifetimes of vehicles produced in these model years and reduce consumption of about 234 billion gallons of gas between model years 2030 to 2050. 

Earlier this year USDOT also rolled back the SAFE-1 rule, clearing a roadblock that prevented states from setting their own, more ambitious vehicle fuel efficiency standards.  

Cleaner Fuels for Airplanes: DOT’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) helped launch the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge, working across agencies and with aircraft manufacturers, airlines, fuel producers, airports, and non-governmental organizations to dramatically increase the production of sustainable aviation fuel to at least 3 billion gallons per year by 2030.

Reducing Emissions from Pipelines: DOT’s Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) took action on a final rule – updating a definition for the first time in more than 50 years –  to ensure nearly 400,000 miles of natural gas “gathering lines” receive proper safety oversight. A single rupture, on average, emits 1,000 metric tons of methane – which has a global warming impact that can be up to 80 times that of carbon dioxide. The rule not only makes sure pipeline operators address methane leaks, but it will also lead to new jobs for pipeline workers who will be upgrading pipeline safety equipment across the country.

Helping States Meet Climate Targets by Reducing CO2 Emissions on Roadways: Just this week, DOT announced a $6.4 billion investment in a new Carbon Reduction Program, made possible by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The program helps states develop strategies to reduce transportation-related carbon emissions. These include projects to support electric freight vehicles and personal vehicles, as well as Bus Rapid Transit corridors and on- and off-road trails for nonmotorized forms of transportation, like biking. It is estimated that currently, 24 states and the District of Columbia have established economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Making it Safer to Walk, Bike and Roll: This year the Department announced a comprehensive national strategy to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on our nation’s roadways. The National Roadway Safety Strategy provides concrete steps that the Department will take to prevent these tragic and avoidable deaths and serious injuries. Bolstered by historic funding included in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the NRSS is the first step in working toward an ambitious long-term goal of reaching zero roadway fatalities and making it possible for more Americans to choose walking and biking as part of how they move around their communities. 

Additionally, several of USDOT’s operating administrations have launched specific climate challenges. These challenges aim to inspire stakeholders to reduce emissions, leading to agency-wide advancements towards a more sustainable transportation system:

  • The Federal Highway Administration has challenged state and local DOTs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by shifting towards more sustainable pavement practices.
  • The Federal Transit Administration, backed with BIL funding, has challenged transit agencies to develop plans to advance fleet electrification and reduce their emissions, and celebrated the first transit agency in the U.S. to reach its goal of an all-electric fleet.
  • The Federal Railroad Administration has challenged owners and operators along the rail network and manufacturers of rail equipment to reach net zero emissions by 2050. 
  • The Federal Aviation Administration is partnering with Airports Council International-North America and Airport Consultants Council to challenge airports to reach net zero emissions by 2050.


Secretary Buttigieg also participated in two social media videos to highlight the Administration’s work on climate change along with White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and fellow cabinet members.