The Environment team within the Office of Policy Development, Strategic Planning and Performance works across the spectrum of energy and environmental issues, coordinating across DOT’s modes and with other Federal agencies to ensure that the environmental impacts of transportation policies are considered at all levels. The team is responsible for developing and reviewing transportation legislation and regulations and coordinating national transportation policy initiatives relating to energy and the environment.
Policies the environmental team helps coordinate will:
- Save consumers and businesses money at the pump and reduce emissions through improved vehicles and aircraft, alternative fuels, and practical transportation alternatives.
- Provide more transportation choices to help connect people to opportunity.
- Move freight by the most efficient and convenient modes, offering substantial reductions in petroleum use.
- Reduce petroleum consumption and emissions by measures to improve transportation system efficiency across all modes, for example by modernizing the aviation system.
- Improve the resilience of U.S. transportation infrastructure.
Major Topics and Related Initiatives
The Environmental team helps to coordinate implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) across the Department, including in the BUILD and INFRA grant review processes. NEPA established a national environmental policy intentionally focused on Federal activities and the desire for a sustainable environment balanced with other essential needs of present and future generations of Americans. It established a supplemental mandate for Federal agencies to consider the potential environmental consequences of their proposals, document the analysis, and make this information available to the public for comment prior to implementation. NEPA requires, to the fullest extent possible, that the policies, regulations, and laws of the Federal Government be interpreted and administered in accordance with its environmental protection goals. NEPA also requires Federal agencies to use an interdisciplinary approach in planning and decision making for any action that adversely impacts the environment.
The team also works on issues of historic preservation, environmental stewardship, efficient project delivery, and environmental justice.
Energy and Energy Efficiency
The Environment team provides support and policy advice on all matters and initiatives related to energy and transportation, including energy conservation, energy efficiency, alternative fuels, and energy security. Some of the team’s work in this area includes:
- Implementation of E.O. 13783 on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth
- Environmental review of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards
- Designating alternative fuel and electric vehicle corridors
The Environment team formulates and recommends Departmental policies, plans, and guidelines related to the natural and human environment. These responsibilities include, but are not limited to, policy advice and activities on air quality, water quality, resilience, floodplain management, ecosystem management, noise, emissions, and bicycle and pedestrian transportation. The team consults on Departmental sustainability initiatives, including the sustainability and resilience of DOT operations.
Species and Habitats
DOT works with many other Federal agencies to promote the health of ecosystems, habitats, and native species. Some of the Environmental team’s initiatives in this area include working with the Pollinator Health Task Force and the National Invasive Species Council.
Environmental Place-Based Initiatives
In order to emphasize local and regional challenges, DOT has joined several place-based initiatives, several of which focus on environmental sustainability. For example, DOT is a member of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership.