Paula Hammond serves as Secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation and Chair of the AASHTO Climate Change Steering Committee. In an interview with AASHTO’s Climate Change Weekly Briefing (CCWB) on Oct. 12, 2010, Hammond discussed progress and challenges her state has faced in addressing climate change and urges state DOTs to ensure that transportation professionals take an active role in developing solutions to climate change challenges. This is the first in a series of interviews CCWB will conduct with state DOT officials on climate change issues.
CCWB: In your role as Chair of AASHTO’s Climate Change Steering Committee, what role do you see for AASHTO and state DOTs in climate change?
Paula Hammond: I think the role AASHTO is playing is the right role, and that is to raise states’ awareness of climate change issues and climate change research and legislation at a national level. That includes engaging state DOTs to share best practices and ensure that all states have access to information. Each state is at a pretty different place. States right now need to prepare themselves on strategies to address emission reduction, because very quickly the attention will fall to transportation agencies on what the best solutions are. We are in a much better position if we are helping shape that strategy list, rather than reacting to it, much like we had to do in Washington state. States should take advantage of what’s being offered here at AASHTO, use the resources that we are developing, and talk to one another about what’s working in each state. In this way, transportation professionals can have a voice in strategies for climate change solutions.
CCWB: On several occasions, you have emphasized a concern about the lack of dialogue with the public about climate change and transportation. Could you describe that concern?
Paula Hammond: My awakening was when I was at the 2009 Asilomar Conference on Transportation and Energy, in California. I was with a lot of very smart people who were talking about all of the things that we needed to do to reduce emissions in transportation. Some of the solutions being discussed were, as far as I was concerned, very radical and not where I believe the public to be.
To me, the technologies are emerging – the electric vehicles are emerging, discussion around green technology, cleaner fuels, reduction in reliance on foreign oil. Those are the things that are going to drive the huge change in emission reduction as opposed what was being discussed two or three years ago, when people were thinking about what I’d call social engineering – telling people you can’t drive any more. Well, that’s not reality in a world where you have an economic crisis and you’re trying to recover by getting businesses moving, getting people moving, and trying to make sure that your businesses are thriving. This need for dialog all started back where the public wasn’t even being considered about what their attitudes were. Policymakers were deciding, “here’s what we have to do to improve the climate and the environment, and by God, we’re just going to do it to them.”
We have a pretty stubborn citizenry and a pretty intelligent citizenry in the United States, and I don’t believe that’s the way that we are going to effect that change.
CCWB: What kind of dialogue do you think will be helpful and what role do AASHTO and state DOTs have?
Paula Hammond: I liken all of this to the health care debate that was going on back when we were at Asilomar. And the fact that nobody even knew what was in the health care bill, but everyone found something to hate about it because there was never good clarity. My first goal, from the national level, is whatever legislation moves forward, AASHTO and other partner groups should work to really define what is in the bill, and what it means, and what outcomes the bill might provide. If AASHTO might be advocating for something slightly different, we would need to be really clear about what we are advocating for. What is usually most effective is to write down what you are trying to accomplish – write down your strategy and what outcome you expect from that.
Whoever leads this effort, whether it comes from state and regional initiatives or whether it comes from federal legislation, the transportation advocacy groups and states can offer real world strategies, solutions, and outcomes – performance based strategies that can affect the bottom line of emission reduction. That’s what I think we should be focused on.
CCWB: In Washington state, what are the public’s views on climate change? Concerned? Skeptical? Split? Well-informed?
Paula Hammond: In Washington, we have a lot of entrepreneurial spirit. People don’t argue so much whether or not emissions are hurting the air or harming our world. But some people sometimes do more harm than good on the issue because they are so far in one direction – they don’t ever want to widen another road, they want to make all their functioning arterials smaller to actually force people to get out of their cars and onto a bicycle. To me, there is this radical part that doesn’t help the argument because that makes the public not trust us. And our downtown businesses in Seattle are having a fit right now and meeting with the mayor as he’s developing his budget saying, “no more road diets, you’re killing us.”
I honestly think we’re going to get there as a society, but I don’t think you can force it on people at this point in time. From our state’s standpoint, there are just as many people, if not more, who say, “you’ve got to fix our roads; you have got to help me get my airplane parts from Pierce County up to Snohomish County and this isn’t working very well because we have congestion.”
People are encouraging us to continue to improve the roadway system. In our state, we’ve developed the Moving Washington strategy to fight congestion, focusing on strategically adding road capacity, operating the system we have efficiently, and providing choices that help manage transportation demands.
Operating the system efficiently – everybody buys into that, people say that makes total sense. The more we’re pushing technology, traffic management, and all of those things that help us make the most efficient use of our system – people are very much encouraging that. They are interested in us trying new technologies like active traffic management, which we’ve begun. We are trying anything we can do to make the system work better.
We also are working with transit agencies. We have room here for growth. But how do we manage the demand and how do we offer a truly integrated set of solutions so that people do not to have to drive alone? Another strategy is to remove choke points and bottlenecks and make our system work better through building something. It’s really not a dirty word in our state to build something.
CCWB: Can you discuss what measures the Washington State Legislature or governor have enacted or issued to provide policy direction on climate change?
Paula Hammond: Two years ago, in 2008, we had legislation to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, by 2035 we would be 25 percent below 1990 levels, and by 2050 we would be 50 percent below 1990 levels. Since transportation is 47 percent of our state’s emissions – because we use clean energy with hydroelectric power – lawmakers established statewide benchmarks for reducing per capita vehicle miles traveled. This was the first such law in the nation (and I would add, done in the dark of the night). The law gives a baseline established by 2050, which was drawn from old revenue forecasts, and which ended up being really high. The baseline wasn’t right, and we were directed to reduce annual per capita VMT in a similar vein: reduce per capita VMT 18 percent by 2020, 30 percent by 2035, and 50 percent by 2050.
There was no recognition at that time of other strategies that would help reduce emissions, like low-carbon fuels, new technologies like electric vehicles, and they didn’t much care what we had to do to get to this number. Nor was there any direction around whether you weighted more heavily in urban areas and let the farmer off the hook or if you were expecting to apply this statewide. So this caused a lot of questions and forced many of us to sit up and take notice. The only good thing that came of it was that it really brought full engagement around this topic. The transit folks thought it was great without really knowing much what it meant. The trucking industry had a fit. Of course the legislature quickly pointed out that they were exempt from this legislation. Which then left us a huge question regarding, if you don’t include everybody, how do you reach your target on the emissions reduction? Now we are trying to figure out what that means. When you establish a benchmark it almost sounds like it’s not really a mandate, it’s a goal, an aspirational goal. The arguments really have been around that lately. Is it real or is it not? Many legislators tried to distance themselves from it after they passed it because they realized it was really just a shot in the dark and didn’t have any science or methodology behind it.
We also have a law, enacted in 2009, directing state agencies to pursue an electric vehicle infrastructure. The legislature also passed a law that wants us to achieve a 40 percent fuel usage using electricity or biofuels for publicly owned vessels (our ferry system), vehicles, and equipment by June of 2013, which is very problematic. In 2009, the legislature also directed state agencies, when distributing capital funds, to consider the greenhouse gas reduction policy of the applicant. That was the first time the legislature was really connecting their policies with local agencies and others on the direction and use of state-funded grants. Not a lot of structure has been put around that yet, but we are working very closely with grant funded agencies to talk out what that might mean.
Another state law directs WSDOT and other state agencies to prepare for adaptation, which we had already been working on. That part is very important to our infrastructure.
Then Governor Gregoire got involved and issued Executive Order 09-05, directing her agencies to do some things to reinforce the goals to reduce greenhouse gas emission, to increase clean energy jobs, and to reduce our expenditures on imported fuel.
As I said, the entrepreneurial spirit in Washington state is alive and well. When we come out of this recession, the governor wants us to have a much greener economy that emerges out of the darkness of the recession. There have been a lot of efforts to create green jobs. A lot of work is going on regarding fuel development and electric vehicle partnerships. So that has been a very positive move.
The governor also stressed that we need to continue to advance public outreach and awareness. Hitting people cold with these kinds of policies is not the kind of approach I believe we need. We need people to buy into it and understand – it’s just like recycling, when everybody taught their kids about recycling and the next thing you know their parents are recycling. The way that you get to people is to start showing people why it’s to their advantage or why they may be able to help Mother Earth. At least in Washington that is a very attractive notion for people, to do what they can to improve their environment.
CCWB: To follow up with VMT reduction - you have a benchmark although there is some uncertainty over whether it’s a hard target or mandate or a benchmark?
Paula Hammond: That’s right.
CCWB: The legislation also asked WSDOT to report back to the legislature on how it could be achieved, is that correct?
Paula Hammond: As a result of the laws that were passed in the last two legislative sessions and the executive order, WSDOT is in the process of finishing our research and analysis on a number of climate change and sustainable transportation issues. We are due to report back to the governor and the legislature in December of this year on our analysis of VMT as a measurement tool, the potential to meet the VMT and greenhouse gas mandated emission reductions, and strategies for moving forward.
Regarding the VMT reduction mandate, we’ve worked for the last couple of years trying to make some sense and some positive changes to it. The level of the benchmark of VMT for 2050 basically was wrong – it was so high that it would not have been difficult for anyone to achieve the 50 percent reduction.
You have to have the technology to measure your current VMT, and your measuring stick goes from there forward. We’ve been working on developing that and have really pushed the “four legs of the stool” notion, as opposed to just VMT reduction. So we’re talking about vehicle technology, and the partnership we have for West Coast Green Highway with our Department of Commerce– Washington, Oregon, and California and we’ve invited British Columbia. This effort is focused on developing electric charging stations using our rest area facilities to kick start the market and help provide that freeway charging opportunity for folks who are on a trip. Many of our cities are developing charging stations which help for the inner city drive around town, but we are trying to give people the comfort to know that if they get on the freeway to go to Portland from Seattle they are going to find charging opportunities at our rest areas.
We’re working with our Department of Commerce on low carbon fuel standards We’re not the driver on this. But we have a huge fleet and a ferry system that uses 17 million gallons of diesel fuel every year, so we are very interested to see how we can be part of the solution.
We are working hard on our own system efficiency, and we are really pushing technology: vehicle, driver information, demand management strategies, HOT lanes. We have a huge HOV system in our state, in our central Puget Sound, about 300 miles, and we’re trying to develop that into a high occupancy toll or express toll system as a way to make the most use of those lanes.
VMT reduction is tough for us. We have a lot of transit in our state, particularly in the Puget Sound region. We have the largest public van pool system in the country. We know that works. We partner with our employers on commute trip reduction strategies. That culture of employer and state or transit partnership to increase options for employees is good and we’re going to continue to push that.
We have light rail now in Seattle, running north-south and will be expanding to the northerly and southerly direction and the voters approved to go east over to Bellevue and Redmond and beyond. Of course money is a problem now because their revenues are short. Now our challenge is in working with the five transit agencies of central Puget Sound to really optimize their trips and make sure their system is the most efficient at a time when they have a lot of special needs, demands, and reductions in their operating revenues as well. So there is work to do there, and yet it’s a good part of the strategy.
There’s a lot going on. That’s the good news. Even in a down economy, there are tremendous things going on. Our legislature has been very supportive of trying new things, which has been good.
CCWB: Does your state have a state climate action plan and what was the DOT’s involvement in developing the plan?
Paula Hammond: We took a look at all the things we were doing around the DOT in Washington and realized we had a lot of people doing good things. Rather than just focus on climate change, we elevated it up to the level of what we call sustainability.
Then, when the governor’s chief of staff formed a task force around energy and climate, we realized that it was really the Department of Commerce, Department of Ecology and Department of Transportation who were the key drivers. So we are advocating for a group with those three agencies. We’re discussing whether it should be in law or by executive order, but the notion is that we need to stick together on any climate initiatives and programs we develop so that they are integrated with the other two.
We’ve developed a statewide climate action program for transportation – but I don’t think it’s ever done. I think we have learned so much from the science end, from the methodology end, and from what actually produces the most results, especially in a bad economy, that we’ve adjusted our strategies. I fully believe the electric vehicle or the alternative fuel vehicle – low-emission, low carbon vehicle – is going to be what really changes the face of this emissions story.
CCWB: Is there anything else to add regarding strategies you are pursuing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption?
Paula Hammond: We are being very nimble in our strategies if we see something that looks like it might be worth trying. We’re working closely with our MPOs. We’re trying to develop a huge menu of solutions and strategies, and they might work better in one place and not so well in another. But this mandate that says “it has to be this,” isn’t going to work. It doesn’t work in our state and it isn’t going to work anywhere else.
CCWB: Have you initiated any climate adaptation planning? Are you contemplating other activities on climate adaptation?
Paula Hammond: Yes, adaptation has been an effort of ours for quite a while. Our state design office has really focused on getting that developed. FHWA just gave us some funds to complete an assessment of the climate risks to our infrastructure, which is going to be great. Just trying to understand what we have and what the risks are has been a huge issue for us. That’s where the federal assistance is going to be helpful in narrowing down what we should worry about and what isn’t as big of a risk.
CCWB: Are your state’s metropolitan planning organizations or local governments actively focusing on climate change? Are you coordinating with them?
Paula Hammond: The executive order directed that we would work with the MPOs and regional transportation planning organizations to work climate change and climate emission reduction strategies into their plans. Of course that was an unfunded mandate. They are all required to comply with the state law on emission reductions, though. The biggest challenge came when the largest MPO, the Puget Sound Regional Council, tried to adopt their long-range plan and didn’t show that they were going to achieve the same emission reduction percentage target as the statewide greenhouse gas targets in the law. So there have been some challenges. It will be interesting to see how that turns out. But yes, they are all working very closely and cooperatively trying to work on plans that will use some of these strategies and techniques that we’ve been suggesting to help reduce their emissions.
CCWB: Within your DOT, what office or individual has the lead for climate change? Does the same office or individual have the lead for both GHG reductions/energy and also for climate adaptation planning?
Paula Hammond: We have a five-headed lead for our sustainable transportation program. Our state design office, environmental services, strategic planning, operations and maintenance, and public transportation are the five leads. They coordinate with about 13 other offices, all the way from our traffic office to the state rail and marine office, the materials lab, highways, and local programs. So everybody in the agency who leads a division or an office understands that they have a little piece of this. We’re working hard to make sure that we have the agency vision and definition of what we call sustainable – which was no small feat – and then to make sure that’s all folded into our way of life.
CCWB: As a DOT Secretary, what is your biggest concern/challenge about climate change?
Paula Hammond: I think going too fast without good data – and making data-free decisions – is a real peril. There has been a lot of good work in the last two years, and I believe that the whole world of transportation, as we talk about reauthorization, is moving toward the performance-based investment level. Anything we do has to have a performance-based connection to it. It’s really hard to establish a goal without understanding how you might get there and understanding how you’re going to measure it. So nationally, we’re working very hard at AASHTO to try and have performance measures that we can buy into that every state can measure in the same way so that we have some comparable data and we understand the health of the transportation system from a national standpoint. This is a big challenge for us. I don’t lie awake at night worrying about how we’ll do it for climate change, but I truly believe we have to stick to what transportation professionals do best and that is to collect good data, use scientific reasoning on solutions, and then make sure to measure and record the outcomes.
CCWB: Is WSDOT addressing climate change in NEPA documents?
Paula Hammond: Yes, we address it in all of our environmental impact statements and environmental assessments. One of the arguments nationally is whether you do it on a construction project basis or whether you look at your corridor of improvements and your long range corridor plan – or even your short range corridor plan – and assess the climate effects or the emissions effects from that. We’re advocating that it stay up at the corridor level, more at the program-level investment. Because a widening here, or a restriping there, or a bridge construction there, really aren’t going to measure the overall effects of the system. So we have to make sure we don’t get too drilled into measuring a specific project and then declaring that it’s a bad project because the numbers don’t come out right.
CCWB: Can you discuss the greenhouse gas inventory WSDOT has conducted for its own operations?
Paula Hammond: Yes, we are required by state law to submit greenhouse gas inventories for 2005, 2008, 2009 and projections to 2035. We did submit a greenhouse gas inventory in 2010. The inventory applied mainly to the DOT facilities and not to the transportation system that we operate.
It’s one thing when you think about transportation agencies as businesses who own facilities that are buildings, just to house the business that we do. We give it some attention, but there is a lot more focus on the transportation system.
CCWB: What advice or insights would you offer to other state DOTs about climate change activities?
Paula Hammond: Be proactive rather than reactive. That is probably the most important thing for folks to think about, and I believe we have been sending that message loud and clear through our AASHTO climate change committee.
The partnership and relationship with your state’s regulatory agencies and the federal agencies in your state are very important: relationships first. That’s how you learn to do business and work together and trust each other. That’s a good lesson for everyone to learn.
Who knows what this election season will bring and what legislatures and the federal delegation will look like, but there are people that will continue to push and want to develop climate legislation, either at the state or federal level. I want state DOTs to remember that if we can get our oar in the water and write down what we think it should be, and suggest goals, strategies and performance measures – those are the ways we can see our words come back at us in legislation. Then we have a realistic framework to work from. That would be where each state could demonstrate leadership in transportation emission reduction and also put forth strategies that are implementable.
State DOT leaders also should provide opportunities for their employees to get access to the climate change resources that we are providing from AASHTO.
For more information on AASHTO’s Climate Change Technical Assistance Program, link to the AASHTO Transportation and Climate Change Resource Center Website or contact Caroline Paulsen, AASHTO Program Manager for Climate Change, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beverley Swaim-Staley serves as Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation. In a November 2010 interview with AASHTO's Climate Change Weekly Briefing, Swaim-Staley describes Maryland's progress in addressing climate change issues related to transportation, including a range of strategies for greenhouse gas mitigation, a heavy focus on transit, plans for a "carbon-neutral" corridor in the state, and mapping of potentially vulnerable highway infrastructure. Swaim-Staley urges state DOTs to take an active role and work with partner agencies to develop realistic solutions to address climate change challenges.
CCWB: In Maryland, what are the public's views on climate change? Concerned? Skeptical? Split? Well-informed?
Beverley Swaim-Staley: I would say that Marylanders are fairly concerned and not terribly skeptical. If you view our legislature and the laws they've passed, that would certainly be an indication that people are pretty well informed and are concerned about the potential effects. Since we are an East Coast state, we talk about things such as sea level rise; we talk about the impact on places like Annapolis and the Port in Baltimore. A lot of Maryland is coastal.
CCWB: Has the Maryland Legislature or governor enacted or issued any policy direction on climate change?
Beverley Swaim-Staley: In 2007, in his first year in office, Governor Martin O'Malley signed an executive order that established a Maryland Commission on Climate Change. In 2008, the commission released a Climate Action Plan on how Maryland would go forth. That report contained a recommended set of strategies that address how we would mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change in Maryland. In the 2009 session, the legislature signed the MD GHG Emissions Reduction Act. That bill required Maryland to achieve a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over 2006 levels by 2020 and to plan for a 90 percent reduction over 2006 levels by 2050.
CCWB: 90 percent by 2050? I think that's the highest target I have heard of.
Beverley Swaim-Staley: Yes, it's a stretch goal. We are fairly well informed and concerned about this issue.
CCWB: What was the DOT involvement in developing the state climate action plan? What does the state climate action plan call for in the transportation sector?
Beverley Swaim-Staley: I sat on the commission and the staff was involved. We were not on the subcommittees but we were part of the discussions.
We continue to work to figure out what our proportional share would be. We are estimating that it's about 32 percent of the total. So we are putting together the strategy. We are talking to the commission and stakeholders so that they understand; it's a fairly tremendous effort for us to mitigate the current share that's contributed by transportation, but we are continuing to work with them on six transportation and land use mitigation and policy options. We've begun a multiphase work plan to try to address these various options. We've actually formed committees for each of the options to see how the strategies could be implemented and accomplished within that 2020 time period. It's really been a strategy-by-strategy approach. The law that was passed in 2009 requires us to come up with an implementation plan by next year, which is December 2011. So we have that time to put together our strategy for each of these options.
CCWB: Could you discuss the extent to which the Maryland plan will focus on vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction and what kind of public support you think you might need?
Beverley Swaim-Staley: We don't have to address a particular VMT reduction in our plan. Maybe I can go through the strategies with you and that would help you see how we're focused on this. They are: land use and location efficiency; transit; improved inter-city transportation; bike and pedestrian improvements; roadway pricing; and technology improvements.
We also are evaluating greenhouse gas impacts by particular projects. We've actually gone through our Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP) - which is our capital construction program - and found that over 44 percent of the CTP and our long-range plan are for projects that either reduce greenhouse gas emissions or fall into one of the categories above. So, if we take it out to 2020, we would be spending approximately $6.2 billion on greenhouse gas-friendly transit projects, for example. So we took a slightly different approach, we worked at not making this about just going at VMT.
CCWB: Is your DOT involved in any multistate or regional climate change activities?
Beverley Swaim-Staley: Yes, in the Washington, D.C., metro area, we work with the metropolitan planning organization, Virginia, and D.C. to link transportation and air quality matters. The D.C. area MPO, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, made a climate action report available in November. That report is based on reducing greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent below 2005 by 2020 and 80 percent below 2005 by 2050. So we are working on goals at the level of urban regions as well as statewide.
For the state, we also have begun looking at doing a study of a carbon-neutral corridor. We have identified a corridor in Baltimore to begin examining various actions to determine whether we could take enough measures to reduce overall level of greenhouse gas emissions at the corridor level. This will require us to work with other state agencies, local agencies, and the Baltimore MPO. This is the first time we've embarked on something like this.
CCWB: What's the timing on that?
Beverley Swaim-Staley: Over the next couple of years. We spent the last year or so identifying the corridor. We were concerned over how locals would think about this. We had a lot of interest, so there was a selection process. We chose this particular corridor in Baltimore - we have just identified it. We will work earnestly with the local elected officials and educate them on the effort, then will start in full force. We are in the preliminary stages.
Another thing we are doing - we've signed an agreement with other Northeastern states, involving both environmental and transportation agencies in developing transportation and air quality strategies. We met in June and started to discuss what we can do to reduce greenhouse gases in the Northeast. A sample of those items being pursued includes the infrastructure for an electrification recharge station to promote plug-in and electric vehicle usage. We're also looking at freight improvements. We're already sharing information, but we'd build on that. For example, we're looking at state policies that would foster sustainable communities and smart growth to both reduce vehicle demand and promote Transit Oriented Development (TOD). Our governor is very interested in promoting TOD - that is key to addressing the growth issues in Maryland. These things should be promoted in the states throughout the corridor.
CCWB: What are some things Maryland DOT is doing - or considering -- to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or energy consumption? Are you in the planning stages or implementation?
Beverley Swaim-Staley: We are spending a large amount of money on transit - developing two major light rail lines: the red line in Baltimore and the purple line in the Montgomery County and Prince Georges County regions. Those will be extensive transit extensions to our existing system. We purchased hybrid diesel buses, new MARC commuter rail cars, and our governor has had an extensive leadership role in increasing both cars and locomotives for our MARC service, as well as station improvements to enhance the system. We've expanded limited stop express lines, credit card payments at our vending machines - we rolled out something called the "Charm Card" in Baltimore - similar to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's SmarTrip card - that's a partnership between Baltimore, Maryland Transit Administration, and WMATA.
Transit is a priority of our governor and we have a very aggressive transit system.
With regard to highways, we are one of the first states to have the Coordinated Highways Action Response Team (CHART) system, which is our congestion response team, and the infrastructure that's associated with that. We want to continue to be a leader with regard to signage, and the notification, and the cameras - we have over 300 cameras in the Washington/Baltimore region and a fairly sophisticated operations center there to respond to incidents and things that increase congestion in the state. We have over 100 park-and-ride lots that we've constructed. We have a fairly aggressive sidewalk and bicycle-pedestrian program, and we are currently upgrading our traffic signals - making improvements to improve traffic flow. We are trying to convert to LED lights throughout our state. And we are test-piloting the use of wind power at one of our SHA shops in Carroll County, solar power at the airport - we run Baltimore-Washington International airport - and geothermal power at our new Intercounty Connector maintenance shop that we are building.
We've been very aggressive, and our governor has been a leader in terms of green activities - "Smart, Green and Growing" has been a mantra for our leadership. We've looked at everything from shuttle buses, increased carpooling, and addressing freight issues (CSX on the national gateway corridor). It's really a theme that runs through everything we do here in Maryland.
CCWB: Are your state's MPOs or local governments actively focusing on climate change? Are you coordinating with them?
Beverley Swaim-Staley: We have some small MPOs, but we also have large MPOs. The Washington region has been very aggressive, that's why they've established the climate, energy and environmental policy committee that I was referring to. The local elected officials there also are very, very aggressive and active in our Washington COG and making sure we address these issues.
The Baltimore MPO is preparing a new plan to try to address these issues and they are just starting to incorporate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as one of their goals in their long-range plan that they are currently developing. They are a little bit behind Washington, but they are also working on it as well. All of these efforts are headed by our Office of Planning and Capital Programming out of MDOT headquarters.
CCWB: Have you initiated any climate adaptation planning? Are you contemplating any activity in climate adaptation?
Beverley Swaim-Staley: Yes, our modal administrations have all incorporated sea level rise and storm surge into their existing planning framework, at the level we determine to be most suitable based on our geography and an assessment of the vulnerability of their infrastructure. In particular, the Maryland State Highway Administration, using their GIS technology, has developed an application for identifying their vulnerable facilities. They are trying to develop a long-range strategic plan through the mapping applications that they have, and they also are working with other state agencies to identify other state assets that could be negatively impacted by sea level rise and storm surge.
We also run the Port of Baltimore here, so our Maryland Port Administration is also very concerned about these impacts and they recently completed an assessment of the impact of storm surge on our marine terminals and the navigational infrastructure that we have for our ships to come up both the Chesapeake Bay and the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.
Dredge material containment is a very big issue for us. We have a major effort for dredged facilities that could be very much impacted, as well as our general harbor development. So they are very involved in developing a long-term strategy to make sure we would be able to prepare for any impact of storm surge on those facilities.
CCWB: Are there parts of I-95 through Maryland that are particularly vulnerable?
Beverley Swaim-Staley: Yes, there are vulnerable portions of I-95, certainly as I-95 comes down through the city of Baltimore and Anne Arundel County. That's something we'd look at with the Northeast Corridor states in terms of the impacts on I-95. We have a number of bridges on I-95 that could be vulnerable.
CCWB: How far along is the State Highway Administration in evaluating the vulnerability of its infrastructure?
Beverley Swaim-Staley: Maryland's State Highway Administration drafted a broad Strategic Plan for Climate Change in fiscal year 2010 and in fiscal year 2011 and began efforts to develop a climate action plan for adaptation with the Maryland Transportation Authority (our Toll Facilities) by June 2011. The amount of detail in the climate action plan may be limited due to funding, but we will have a plan and determine necessary future work.
SHA has established a Climate Adaptation Team (CAT) which includes many offices across the organization and MdTA representatives. The CAT will provide input for the development of the Climate Action Plan even more so than they did during development of the Strategic Plan. To date, GIS data collection and verification of assets is on-going as well as research to gather predicted climatic changes in Maryland. In the next month or so we'll have enough data of the forecasted changes to meet with the CAT again to discuss potential action to protect assets. FHWA provided a model for developing adaptation plans that we are utilizing as a guide, but once the pilot projects are complete next year there may be additional adjustments in our plan. We are not implementing climate change discussion in projects yet but are planning to incorporate adaptation/mitigation elements into the FY12 SHA business plan, which is in development now.
CCWB: Within Maryland DOT, what office or individual has the lead for climate change? Does the same office or individual have the lead for both greenhouse gas reductions/energy and also for climate adaptation planning?
Beverley Swaim-Staley: The MDOT secretary's office, as well as our modal administrations, are all involved in climate change. The coordination for the department is done in the Office of the Secretary, where the Office of Planning and Capital Programming has the lead responsibility.
In addition, two years ago a new Office of Environment was formed, to make sure the things we are doing on a day-to-day basis from an operational standpoint are the things we should be doing with regard to environmental impacts.
CCWB: What is MD DOT's biggest concern/challenge with respect to climate change?
Beverley Swaim-Staley: Our biggest concerns are financial, especially with the economy as it has been over the past several years, although we've certainly seen our revenues begin to stabilize again. That is, without a doubt, going to be the biggest concern in making sure that we can address the needs going forward. As I mentioned, about 44 percent of our expenditures through 2020 that are already in the plan are for projects that will help reduce the growth of greenhouse gas emissions. But obviously there are going to be limits to what we can do.
CCWB: A related question: Have you tried to look at how electric vehicles and more fuel efficient vehicles will affect your revenue stream? The administration has announced another corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) rulemaking identifying the possibility of even a 62 mpg standard for vehicles; that would certainly have an affect on revenue. Have you had a chance to look at that?
Beverley Swaim-Staley: I think maybe we are a little luckier than a lot of state DOTs; we have a fairly diversified transportation trust fund. And while the gas tax is certainly a significant part of that, we also have a sales tax, titling tax, corporate income tax, and of course all of the revenues that we have from our various facilities, such as the port and the airport. So we are certainly attuned that over time our gas tax is probably not going to increase as a share of our total revenue. But we are also not as dependent upon the gas tax as other DOTs. So I think it's something we're going to be looking at over time. For example, we have a blue ribbon commission now that was established last session that's looking at our long-term funding needs. So we'll certainly be having a dialog about that. But it's not as if the gas tax makes up even 50 percent of our revenue.
CCWB: The flip side of that, the expenditures that may rise due to climate change needs, both alternative investments as well as the costs associated with adapting infrastructure - either retrofitting existing infrastructure, increasing culvert size, etc. Do you have a sense of whether that will pose a significant challenge?
Beverley Swaim-Staley: Our planning office in the State Highway Administration has been doing those assessments. We've been working with Maryland Department of Environment and Department of Natural Resources as we are assessing what the impacts will be. I think that so far we've all been working together to make sure that we are identifying the most effective and cost efficient methods of addressing many of these issues - but I think that's going to be a long-term solution. Our SHA has been a leader in many respects with regard to addressing some of the environmental issues. For example, we have a very aggressive reforestation plan in the state. The approach we are trying to take is to look at what the goal is, and then look at what options we have for achieving the goal - as opposed to saying that certain things have to be done in a certain way.
CCWB: Is Maryland DOT addressing climate change in NEPA documents?
Beverley Swaim-Staley: Not at this time. We looked at that as part of the analysis for the Intercounty Connector (ICC), which is the biggest project that we have going right now. It's not being considered for every project at this time because it is not required by federal oversight agencies and we feel that the extra cost and time involved would not be productive. That could change. We are currently including a climate change discussion in our EIS documents using the template that's been provided by the Federal Highway Administration.
AASHTO favors that future greenhouse gas evaluations would be done on a regional basis and not on a project-by-project basis. We would certainly concur in that.
This goes back to the previous question - when we are looking at any of these solutions, we prefer to look at on more of a holistic basis rather than a project-by-project basis.
CCWB: Has Maryland DOT done or is it planning to do a greenhouse gas inventory for the DOT?
Beverley Swaim-Staley: We are not yet pursuing an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions. However, we have an inventory of total mobile source greenhouse gas emissions; that was part of the climate change effort that I referred to at the beginning. We have estimated through some modeling that total on-road and off-road (for us that's our rail, our port, and our airport) that those emissions would represent about 30 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions produced in the state. Modeling is planned to go forward this winter using the new models (EPA's MOVES model).
CCWB: What advice or insights would you offer to other state DOTs about climate change activities?
Beverley Swaim-Staley: Make sure you get to the table right away. Make sure you are up front, that you are a voting member, that you not stay back and wait to see what happens, but are very aggressive from the beginning in sitting down with your partners. Make sure that they understand that you understand that we need to do transportation in a different way than we have in the past - and that you're prepared to be part of the solution. Obviously, by being at the table up front, you can hopefully (and I think we've been successful here in Maryland) help them to better understand what's realistic. But that doesn't mean you won't have aspirational goals as well.
CCWB: Do you think there is a gap in the public dialog about climate change strategies for transportation? Maybe in Maryland, the gap is not as great as some other state DOTs are seeing.
Beverley Swaim-Staley: In urban areas, we are a dense state. There is a general acknowledgement and desire for more transit. We meet with 24 local jurisdictions every year. We even have some of our smaller jurisdictions and what used to be our suburban jurisdictions now clamoring for more transit - areas like southern Maryland. Eight years ago they were more focused on highways. Now, not a single meeting do we go to that are we not asked about how to address transit needs, and also how we can help them address their pedestrian safety, and their mobility needs with regard to moving people. There is obviously a concern because the rural areas don't have the density - they want to make sure we are working with them on a range of solutions, but at the same time there is a real acknowledgement that transit is important. Transit is the way to address the VMT reduction issue in Maryland.
For more information on Maryland DOT's climate change efforts, link to the Maryland Climate Action Plan - Draft Maryland DOT Implementation Status Report.
Matthew Garrett serves as Director of the Oregon Department of Transportation and chairs AASHTO's Standing Committee on the Environment. In a Dec. 2010 interview with AASHTO's Climate Change Weekly Briefing, Garrett says Oregon's legislature has given the state DOT a lead role in addressing climate change, working with sister agencies and local governments on a range of strategies including land use, vehicle technologies, and increased mobility options for the traveling public. But Garrett cautions that policymakers nationwide must focus on quantifying the costs of actions that are necessary to address climate change and determine how to pay for them.
CCWB: In Oregon, what are the public's views on climate change? Are they fairly uniform, or are there wide variations?
Matthew Garrett: Like many issues in the state of Oregon, I think you have two distinct positions on the climate change issue. Obviously Oregon, particularly in western Oregon, you have a group of folks who understand and truly engage in the climate change/global warming conversation. As you start to migrate around the state - especially eastern Oregon - you have folks who are just more conservative in their approach who would raise questions. I'm not saying they are dismissing climate change or the science behind it, but I think the disposition is a little different in the eastern part of the state. And that's just representative of most issues in the state of Oregon. We're really split because of the urban nature of the Willamette Valley versus the more rural disposition of the state. Oregon is a green state, so there has been a lot of information and leadership from the governor on down moving in a direction to address the real-time or current challenges we face with regard to climate change, and more particularly what opportunities or activities do we need to engage as we look to the future - whether it's in the built environment or the natural environment. So there has been a lot of policy work on it, but I think the populous is split on it, representing the disposition of the state.
CCWB: Has the Oregon legislature or Governor enacted or issued any policy direction on climate change?
Matthew Garrett: Governor Kulongoski has been extremely aggressive, working with the west coast governors from Washington and California. Actually, I would submit they may be at the forefront looking at mitigation and adaptation-type activities both in the arenas of natural resources and in the built environment. We've got a significant highway that sits right on the ocean, Highway 101, and then the feeder routes that feed into the valley are exposed to increased storm intensity and storm surge. The infrastructure wasn't built to withstand these effects, which we see growing. Governor Kulongoski has been at the tip of the spear in this conversation, saying this is something we need to do. The legislature has followed up in passing legislation that has specific timelines and targets for greenhouse gas reductions. They have charged the DOT to actually lead a conversation with regard to greenhouse gas reductions, modeling, and the basic disciplines behind different scenarios - a statewide strategy to look at a suite of options, be they trying to reduce vehicle miles traveled, providing more options, and land use issues. We also speak to fuels and to vehicle technology. We're working aggressively to try to engage the electric vehicle industry, not only trying to attract those types of business to the state of Oregon but also investing in infrastructure along our I-5 corridor to make sure that as the vehicles and composition of the fleet start to change that we will have the infrastructure ready so folks can travel beyond just the inner city area. So again, a strong push of leadership is coming from Governor Kulongoski, reciprocated and passed through the legislature, and a lot of the effort is funneling through the DOT as we partner with our land conservation and development committees, our Department of Energy, and our environmental quality agency as well. But ODOT is on point in terms of crafting strategies and disciplines around greenhouse gas reduction.
CCWB: How do you see the recent election results, either nationally or in Oregon, influencing the transportation agenda in your state, including climate related policies?
Matthew Garrett: It will be interesting. In Oregon the numbers in terms of Democrats and Republicans in the legislature have closed up. I think that the climate change issue doesn't go away, but the investment and the avenues we take to address it will change. The fiscal challenges that we face in the state may change the complexion and the intensity in which we engage the greenhouse gas reduction effort. We have statutes that already have been enacted, and we're walking down the pathway to inform that. I don't see that being rescinded, but I see the intensity of engagement on the issue may be throttling back just a little bit.
CCWB: Does Oregon have a state climate action plan? What does the state climate action plan call for in the transportation sector?
Matthew Garrett: We do, and we continue to refine it. There is an obligation that has been identified specific to the transportation sector for the state of Oregon. We're not a whole lot different than anywhere else - roughly about one third of emissions come from the transportation sector. So we are looking at what are the strategies, what are the tools, and what are the efforts underway in the transportation sector to meet that obligation and try to bend the emissions line down. It requires engaging the suite of issues across the board. There is no silver bullet - it's more of a silver buckshot type of approach. And you're going to have to do all the efforts in terms of bending the greenhouse gas emissions line. That's the approach we're taking in the state of Oregon. Led by transportation and land use - that's something we've been engaged in for the last thirty-some years. I think we're further out in terms of the relationship between transportation and land use but we'll continue to use that as a tool - but then getting into some of the issues of fuel, of modal shifts, of demand management type activities - being much more aggressive on those fronts. We will be looking at vehicles, making investment in alternative vehicles themselves as well as the infrastructure. So the whole suite of efforts are engaged to blunt the growth of greenhouse gas emissions
CCWB: Are there other things Oregon DOT is doing - or considering - to reduce GHG emissions or energy consumption?
Matthew Garrett: There is one other thing I want to mention. Brian Gregor, who works for Oregon DOT as a modeler, came up with a model called the Greenhouse Gas Statewide Transportation Emissions Planning (GreenSTEP) model. It speaks to just how much impact, if you engage aggressively on this front in terms of land use decisions and other actions, how much does it bend the line, if at all. Brian's got something that complements the existing models, which is one of the exposures in our engagement of greenhouse gas emissions reductions. I don't think we have all the tools we need; we need to continue to refine them. But in Oregon we have a tool developed by our own folks, this GreenSTEP model, which has informed the decisions. For all intents and purposes, it says you have to be aggressive on all fronts if you are going to meet the goals the state of Oregon has set for the near term and the future in terms of emissions reduction. This is something that's playing very well in the state of Oregon and at the national level. We've had conversations with U.S. DOT specific to this model to see how it would complement EPA's MOVES model - how do we make sure the tools we're putting together can inform and move us in new directions. The GreenSTEP model is one of those tools.
CCWB: Oregon DOT has done a great service in developing this model. We featured it this spring in one of the webinars for AASHTO, and it has stimulated a lot of interested from other state DOTs.
Matthew Garrett: It's a tool that helps cut through some of the challenges. But even with that, we need to start looking for other tools and refining what we have. This is a tough road to hoe, and any tool we can create or reinvent can help us address these things. The challenges are great.
CCWB: Is reducing vehicle miles traveled one of the key areas you're focusing on?
Matthew Garrett: I think we are really focusing on reducing emissions; reducing VMT may be a tactic in the overall strategy. But in Oregon, it's the way you say it. If you say it to the extent that we're just trying to get people out of their cars, you've got a certain segment of people who are going to react to that. If you say we are trying to provide people options that they can choose to get out of their car because we are making investments in transit - that our land use development patterns are easier so someone doesn't have to take the car, or we're investing in a new type of vehicle, like the electric vehicle, providing those people those options - yes, that's a pathway on which we will be very aggressive. We are trying to incent behavior rather than being perceived as something punitive. Oregon is a big state. When you get east of the mountains, there's a lot of room to roam to do what you need to do. In the urban areas you might travel eight blocks or eight miles to a store or to a place of worship, when you get out to eastern Oregon that realistically might be 50 or 60 miles to do the same type of thing. So it's the way we couch it and the way we talk to Oregonians; we're trying to incent the behavior and offer those options rather than it being perceived as a take-away. Because people like their cars out here, there's no doubt about it.
CCWB: Have you initiated any climate adaptation planning?
Matthew Garrett: Yes, absolutely. I don't think it is completely congealed here. But the conversations are taking place in terms of the exposures. In Oregon we've identified where we think we're exposed - certainly the coast. The storm intensities will be problematic for our infrastructure. The storm surges that come along the coastal areas, sea level rise, those are where we're greatly exposed in terms of our highways, rail, and ports. So we've got the mitigation activity we've engaged in. On adaptation, we're having that conversation. It's not fully developed, but it's on the radar screen and we look to where we go into the future, in terms of how we invest, where we invest, how we armor up certain things, do we armor up certain things, and do we move them? Those conversations are playing themselves out across the agency in terms of our basic planning - we're inserting those conversations right at the get-go, when there's a transportation problem identified and vision for a solution is taking place right up through the development, delivery, and maintenance of the effort. It is now a variable that has been placed into that equation.
CCWB: Are your state's metropolitan planning organizations or local governments actively focusing on climate change? Are you coordinating with them?
Matthew Garrett: We have legislation that came out of the 2009 state assembly (HB 2186) that directs that engagement. We're working first, very closely with the Portland Metro MPO. They are the most mature and advanced, and they are unique to the extent that that MPO is an elected regional government. So they have the capacity to engage that conversation. We're working very closely in identifying the various tools that will go into greenhouse gas emissions reduction with the MPO. That will inform another effort under another piece of legislation adopted in 2010 (SB 1059) that has a similar engagement with the remaining five MPOs through the state. They aren't as mature, they don't have the same capacity, and there is a little anxiety as we engage those other MPOs, but the legislature put the DOT on point in terms of human resource and financial resource to work these issues through. So the relationship is much more mature in the Portland metro area and we're growing those relationships across the state with our MPO partners.
CCWB: Within Oregon DOT, what office or individual has the lead for climate change?
Matthew Garrett: We have placed it under the charge of my Deputy Director for Operations, Jerri Bohard, she's the chief operating officer of the agency. She is responsible for the various modes - from the highway portfolio, to transit, rail, safety and planning. She oversees that operational aspect. The reason I charged her is because this is a cross-cutting issue that affects all these portfolios. Jerri comes from our planning policy division, where she was on point for all of these policy type discussions. Now she oversees all of these activities and it seems to me I have a good person on point to understand the policy and political implications, and she has the mechanics of the apparatus to infuse it across the agency. As the Deputy Director for Operations, she has the reach throughout the organization to bring various disciplines and individuals into the conversation.
CCWB: Does your state DOT have its own climate action plan?
Matthew Garrett: We do, but it is part of a greater statewide strategy. We certainly know the charge coming to the state DOT, so we can be somewhat parochial in the way we engage the issue. We see ourselves as part of a greater whole in working with our sister agencies to develop that statewide strategy. But we do have a strategy specific to transportation, looking at what can we can do internally and what we can do with our external partners. We are working very aggressively to make sure - whether it's our methods, our materials, or our equipment - that we are placing the greenhouse gas variable into the equation to see how we can bend the line, so to speak.
CCWB: What is Oregon DOT's biggest concern/challenge with respect to climate change?
Matthew Garrett: I don't think I'm going to be unique in saying there is a financial implication to do this, and I'm not sure that has been well articulated. It plays itself on two fronts. As I look at the conversation, one of the exposures is that there is not a good economic overlay that informs this discussion. We certainly know the exposures. We know what we need to do. But in terms of how much it will cost - we can do that math. We can do it internally with ODOT so we look at if you're going to do this aggressively, if the pie is not growing then you're going to have to cut the pie differently and allocate resources to it. My bigger concern is that you have this conversation - the economics of it - it just hasn't matured to the point of where we can say, there is a cost to this, and there is a cost of inaction. We need to do a better job of articulating what those are. There is an ilk of folks out there who are going to push back against this, and if you haven't covered all of the bases in your argument as to why you're moving in this direction and you have that financial exposure - and I think it's only exacerbated in these financial times - I think it weakens the position. That's my concern. Do we have enough money to do all of this stuff? That's always a challenge in anything we do. But more importantly is the economic variable inserted in this overall conversation. I would submit that in Oregon, and maybe nationwide, that is an area that we need to strengthen. Right now there's a little vulnerability in the overall argument and we need to tighten it.
CCWB: Are you referring to the cost of not acting?
Matthew Garrett: Both ways. What are the implications if you don't act? What does that mean to businesses' bottom line, what does it mean in the natural resource world? Economically, what does it mean if you don't act? You can make the statement that we have significant exposure - potential exposures in terms of water, in terms of wildlife, in terms of forest health, fish health. That statement will grab you, but what does that really mean? What are the economic implications? It is a side of the coin that hasn't received the attention. We're working with our sister agencies in developing almost a matrix of where we see the exposures are. One of the things I'm seeing is that we articulate the exposure, but we don't have the economic implications to really drive home the gravity of what we're talking about here.
CCWB: Climate change will always be an area where we'll never have definitive information on the cost of not acting or how we value the co-benefits or negative side effects of certain approaches. A good analogy is fire insurance. You hope your house isn't going to catch on fire. You look at the value of your house, or the planet, or the state's businesses and infrastructure, and you're willing to take out some insurance at a certain cost to try to protect that.
Matthew Garrett: That's a good line of argument, and a prudent person would understand that. But there is something about this issue where at times prudence seems to leave and passion or emotive reaction comes into play. The better we can articulate something a little more tangible, the less emotive the reactions from folks. And the passion allows the pendulum to swing pretty widely in some cases.
I've been in rooms where you articulate the discipline, the strategy, the exposures, and the first question is: "you're just basing those decisions on junk science, it isn't real, it is just cyclical, it will come and go, and you're throwing away our money." I don't think that's unique to Oregon. It's more emotive than an informed reaction, but it's a real reaction.
CCWB: Is Oregon DOT addressing climate change in NEPA documents?
Matthew Garrett: I think we're at the infancy of those conversations. We have a big bridge, known the Columbia River Crossing, which we're working closely on with Washington State DOT. Here's a specific instance where we've placed the greenhouse gas overlay on a specific project. Greenhouse gas information was embedded into the various methodologies to inform the discussion of the benefits or potential exposures of this project related to greenhouse gas emissions. That worked very well in terms of the Columbia River Crossing, where we proved that with this investment we would reduce emissions. We got some positive feedback; we got some push back as well. Overall, we're still at the infancy, we're still having the discussion whether this is a programmatic application, or do you really want to drill down on each and every project. We're still arguing it should be programmatic in its approach, but we're still in the front end of the process.
CCWB: Is the Columbia River Crossing project moving toward the final EIS?
Matthew Garrett: Yes, it's still in the environmental review stage. It's one of those projects where technical engineering/design was the easy part. The two sides of the river are culturally different. We are in the EIS process, moving toward a final document. We hope to secure a record of decision within six months to a year.
CCWB: As I recall from the draft EIS, the greenhouse gas analysis for the preferred alternative for the Columbia River Crossing project supported the case that you needed to expand capacity because otherwise greenhouse gases would go up because of congestion or people would have to travel greater distances to avoid congestion. Therefore the alternative that expanded highway capacity, I think without a toll, had lower greenhouse gases. Is that correct?
Matthew Garrett: You're right up to the point where the maximum benefit comes when you do place a toll - but not too high a toll - and when you provide options. Light rail is an option - we have very aggressive demand management, and with the tolling comes dynamic pricing. Again, a suite of options is provided to allow people to step out of their car or to defer a trip and with all of those factors coming into play, we did see reductions of emissions.
CCWB: Has Oregon DOT done a greenhouse gas inventory for the DOT?
Matthew Garrett: I think we use different terminology. What we're doing, clothed in the garment of sustainability, is just that inventory or footprint. Yes we have engaged in that, but it's encompassed in an overarching sustainability effort.
CCWB: What advice or insights would you offer to other state DOTs about climate change activities?
Matthew Garrett: This is one of those areas where it's going to take a village. The department of transportation cannot and should not stand alone. It should be at the table. I think Oregon is unique in terms of not only being at the table, but leading the conversation. But I know some of my brethren in the state DOTs are not even at the table. The DOTs need to be at the table. You need to work on partnerships and understanding the roles and responsibilities of the sister agencies, and the roles and responsibilities of the regulatory agencies. I think you need to build partnerships with regulatory agencies, specific to this issue and others. It will take that collective wisdom to inform a holistic direction, so you're looking at the whole of the chess board, so no one is moving with blinders on. You've got everything in front of you and everyone understands how the state needs to move in one direction. So you can't go it alone; it can't be a silo conversation. You need to bring the wisdom of a lot of different agencies into this conversation to form a strategy and various tactics that make up that strategy.
CCWB: Do you want to comment on any additional policy or any legislative actions that you think would be helpful in addressing climate change and transportation issues, either nationally or in your state?
Matthew Garrett: I'll defer on the national conversation. I just wish they would move forward on reauthorization. If the financial spigot is turned off, then we're compromised on a lot of different fronts. I don't know how the politics is going to play with the change that took place on Election Day, specifically in the House. I've heard that climate change conversations may be moved to the back burner, or the way-back burner. That's my overarching concern. We can't be a windsock on this thing. You have to commit. I think the science is undeniable, and the implications and the exposures to the nation are real. We're certainly looking at that. But much like anything else, it's going to come down to funding. As we across the nation don't have enough money to make sure that transportation asset is as healthy as it should be, this is an economic burden. It just is. It's going to compete with other money - if you're going to commit to a greenhouse gas emission reduction strategy, you have to finance it. That's just a cold hard fact. That comes back to how we make sure we have the right amounts of money and we're moving in the right direction. I think the economic side of this is a little bit of exposure and somehow we can add to that variable that plugs into to the equation. But we have to finance it - you can't just play it as a hobby. You have to commit; you have to make the investments. There are going to be some tradeoffs which demand that holistic engagement of folks from state agencies to regulators to legislators, because you have to have champions to craft this thing, or you're going to be out there floating with the political winds. Politically, it's difficult when everything is laid out on the table. There is a cost to do this and we better figure out what that is and we better figure out what revenue streams are going to help pay for it.
For more information on Oregon's climate change policies, link to the Oregon DOT's Climate Change Website. For views from other state DOTs, link to the State DOT Interviews page on AASHTO's Transportation and Climate Change Resource Center website.