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Transportation

Key Steps to Curb Carbon:

  • Turn our major highways into a statewide network of “electric corridors” to provide fast electric vehicle (EV) chargers at least every 70 miles.
  • Shift highway funding models away from gasoline and diesel fuel taxes to a new model that supports improved infrastructure funding, but does not penalize electric vehicle owners and also supports improved public transit.  Establish a task force to explore Kentucky’s options.
  • Electrify fleet vehicles and public transportation.
  • Expand local BikeShare programs.
  • Address local land use plans to coordinate transportation between the workplace and residences to minimize the need for single occupancy vehicle miles.

Introduction

It used to be that the nation’s largest climate impacts came from coal-fired power plants. But now that many of these plants have either closed, are announcing closure or are being converted, the transportation sector has now taken the lead when it comes to climate impact.

Transportation now accounts for 28% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. )by end-use sector). The vast majority of these emissions come from passenger cars, making greater fuel efficiency of passenger cars, use of public transit and shifts to electric vehicles especially important.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the transportation sector is the second largest consumer of energy in the U.S. (behind electric power generation), and yet 93% of the energy consumed in transportation today comes from petroleum.

 

 

Expansion of Electric Corridors

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) suggests it would take just a few hundred corridor fast-charging stations to support long-distance traveling between U.S. cities and roughly 8,000 would be needed to serve urban and rural areas nationwide.

Groups such as Evolve Kentucky, supported by national nonprofits such as Plug-In America, promote the adoption of electric chargers to accelerate the adoption of plug-in vehicles.  These public, fee-free electric car chargers are “adopted” by sponsors.  The US Green Building Council also offers information and training on vehicle charging infrastructure at multi-housing and commercial properties.

  • Our Recommendations: Establish policies or incentives that promote more Adopt a Charger initiatives in Kentucky.  Establish state initiatives that provide public electric chargers at state-funded areas such as state parks. Provide incentives for charging infrastructure in multi-family and workplace settings, and public charging for those without garages.

Change Highway Funding Models

As technology improves, cars have steadily become more efficient, which means that less gas is required.  This efficiency translates to a decrease in state revenues for road and bridge construction and maintenance.  Some proposed solutions would penalize alternative fuel vehicles.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is tracking different proposed and adopted state policies for the taxation of alternative fuel vehicles.  See our resource website for its policy paper, “On the Move: State Strategies for 21st Century Transportation Solutions” which explores numerous innovative surface transportation reform laws, policies and programs being considered or pursued to move the nation’s transportation system into the 21st Century.

  • Our Recommendation: Kentucky should establish a transportation task force to review the latest policies for addressing transportation funding in ways that promote sustainability, reduce carbon, improve air quality, provides consumer choice for transportation, and assesses affordable transportation alternatives for low-income residents.

Electrification of Fleet Vehicles and Public Transportation:
Volkswagen Settlement

Fleet operators are considering more vehicle electrification to stabilize fuel costs, reduce maintenance expenses, and project a greener image to consumers. Electric buses have lower global warming emissions than diesel and natural gas buses, even in cities with power grids that depend on coal and natural gas power plants, according to an analysis released by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The study found electric buses produce less than half of the global warming pollution of diesel or natural gas buses on average.

Major Kentucky corporations such as Louisville’s United Parcel Service freight hub are driving the transition.  UPS has made a major commitment to a less carbon-intensive future, setting a goal to source 25% of their annual vehicle purchases to be alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles by 2020 and 25% of its total electricity needs from renewable sources by 2025.

Volkswagen Settlement: In 2015, the USEPA issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to the German automaker, after it was found that their turbocharged direct injection diesel engines (TDI) were beyond US standards for NOx pollution limits (NOx is a key component of smog). In a settlement from legal actions relating to this excess pollution, $2.7 billion will be available to states to control NOx emissions. The settlement can support programs that can transition states towards electric vehicles including EV charging stations, zero-emission busses, and more, including “electric ports” in shipping areas. Kentucky is anticipated to receive nearly $20 million of these funds.


Expand Bikeshare Programs for Local Transportation

Access to personal mobility vehicles such as bikeshare programs are changing the way public right of way is used across the country.  Throughout Kentucky, university campuses and urban communities are beginning to adopt sharing programs.  Estimating how bike sharing keeps carbon pollution out of the atmosphere is complicated because every bike-sharing program works differently and collects data differently.  Regardless, these programs build public support for alternate transportation beyond individual passenger vehicles.  They also encourage better health outcomes and create more equitable systems by providing basic transportation opportunities for all income levels.

 


Helpful Transportation Links:

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