Resources for State DOTs to Consider Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change in NEPA Documents

On June 21, 2019, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued the draft National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Guidance on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) (84 FR 30097). This Draft Guidance follows the issuing (2016) and rescinding (2017) of past CEQ guidance. The current guidance lacks specifics on how and to what degree to analyze GHGs, and there are no other detailed federal guidance for state departments of transportation (DOT) to address this issue. Additionally, a future federal administration may reissue requirements similar to those rescinded in 2017, re-imposing requirements on state DOTs to assess project impacts on GHG emissions and climate change. Because many state DOTs do not have the resources and expertise to develop their own GHG and climate change methodologies, they urgently need guidelines on how to develop meaningful and cost-effective documentation on climate change. More specifically, the immediate need is for a basic template that state DOTs can apply to efficiently and cost-effectively address climate change and GHG emissions in NEPA documents. This research would create a simple guidebook and supporting templates covering two distinct elements: (1) characterizing GHG emissions from project construction, operation, and maintenance, as a surrogate for project effects on climate change; and (2) characterizing the effects of the changing climate on the project from, for example, increased precipitation or rising sea levels. Additionally, and to the extent feasible and warranted, the basic template would account for changing climate on the project by providing alternative text or sections by region of the country. The research will include a literature review to identify materials, analytical approaches, and resources that would be appropriate for a basic template for state DOTs through a review of current practice, published and ongoing research, and relevant methods and tools. The research will identify situations in which project-level GHG analysis is effectively supporting decision making, where the analysis is done for disclosure, and patterns in project types where a project-level GHG analysis is meaningful (e.g., comparison of typical project GHG emissions against global emissions). Based on the results of the review, identify materials, GHG emission analysis methods and resources appropriate for a basic template for state DOTs. In particular, the research will identify approaches that could streamline analyses suitable for inclusion in a basic template for state DOTs. The research should also document best practices, recommendations, resources, and templates and compile them in a resource document that identifies completed transportation GHG and Climate Change NEPA analyses, guidance documents, and relevant tools. The research results will support development of guidelines and supporting templates that state DOTs can use to present project-level GHG and Climate Change analyses in NEPA documents (Technical Reports, Environmental Assessments, and Environmental Impact Statements) to support a variety of project types, including low-volume projects with little effect on GHG, and describe where to discuss GHG (in air quality or energy section) and how to characterize Climate Change impacts (direct, indirect, or cumulative). The templates may present alternative text or materials by region of the country, as appropriate. The templates should be piloted with two state DOTs and refined as needed. The project should include a virtual peer exchange with all interested state DOTs to understand the direction state DOTs are taking, share analysis experience to date, discuss best practices, and collect feedback on the draft template before it is finalized.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $375000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 25-64

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Hartell, Ann

  • Start Date: 20200519
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01739531
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 25-64
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: May 18 2020 3:06PM