Bloomberg Government subscribers get the stories like this first. Act now and gain unlimited access to everything you need to know. Learn more.
Transportation projects that tackle carbon reduction from a variety of approaches — from greener truck stops to scooter charging — are eligible for a new pot of money being funneled to states from the infrastructure law.
The Transportation Department rolled out guidance Thursday and started to unlock the money from the $6.4 billion Carbon Reduction Program. States can spend the funds immediately on projects of their choice, before developing a larger strategy for reducing transportation emissions.
“It’s designed to help states create cleaner transportation systems,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told reporters. “The projects themselves have a wide range and may include things that we can’t even yet imagine today.”
The program, authorized by the infrastructure law (Public Law 117-58), doles out an estimated $1.2 billion in formula funding this fiscal year to states for transportation projects that cut emissions. A wide range of projects are eligible, including charging infrastructure, public transit, port and truck stop electrification, and micromobility and electric bike projects.
Lawmakers have touted the urgency of a program like this since the transportation sector generates the largest share of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. The Biden administration set a goal last year of the U.S. cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
“This is the first ever highway formula program that dedicates funding to address the effects that roads and highways have on our climate,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said. “It’s a huge impact.”
States are also required by the law to draw up a strategy to reduce transportation emissions by Nov. 15, 2023, according to new guidance from the Federal Highway Administration.
An administration official said the use of the funds isn’t initially tied to the carbon reduction strategy, so states can spend the money now. The program is designed to be flexible as long as the state can show in some way that it will reduce emissions, the official said.
Infrastructure Law Fully Funded in Spending Deal After Delay
The program’s implementation had been stalled for months since the law’s enactment in November because the government was operating under stopgap funding measures that didn’t allow for new programs. That delay ended in March when lawmakers passed an appropriations law for the fiscal year.
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee ranking member Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Highways and Transit Subcommittee ranking member Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) criticized the new FHWA guidance in a joint statement, saying the Biden administration “doubled down on discouraging states from building new roads.” The lawmakers are opposed to a December memo, referenced in the new guidance, prioritizing use of highway money from the infrastructure law to repair existing infrastructure before building additional capacity.
To contact the reporter on this story: Lillianna Byington in Washington at email@example.com