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Fifth National Climate Assessment - Read the Report

Department of Transportation

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Department of Transportation (DOT) coordinates with USGCRP and its participating agencies to inform transportation system mitigation and resilience solutions. DOT initiatives to improve the resilience and sustainability of the U.S. transportation sector include the following:

  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is working on many fronts to address concerns related to climate change. The FAA is working through their university partners to understand the impacts of aviation activity on climate change and are following a holistic plan to reduce those impacts with other federal agencies through new technologies, sustainable aviation fuels, and improved operational procedure concepts. The FAA is also working to evaluate and mitigate the risks of sea level rise and other impacts of climate change on FAA infrastructure and the ability to safely operate the National Airspace System. FAA is leading an effort to develop an implementation plan for a national airport strategy to provide a top-down framework for investments in airport infrastructure, including resilience.
  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) are working with States, public transportation agencies, and metropolitan areas to improve the condition and increase the resilience of the Nation's Highways and public transportation systems, respectively, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. FHWA and FTA are supporting transportation agencies through ongoing programs that include: assessing vulnerabilities; considering resilience in the transportation planning process; incorporating resilience in asset management plans; addressing resilience in project development and design; optimizing operations and maintenance practices; and deploying alternative fuel vehicle infrastructure. FTA and FHWA are also working to ensure that resilience is considered when rebuilding damaged transportation infrastructure after a natural disaster.  
  • The Maritime Administration (MARAD) Ports Team is developing a framework for an asset management tool called the “Waterfront Asset Management Tool” (WFAM) to inform port planning and decision making. This asset management tool can be used by public and privately owned ports to identify infrastructure vulnerabilities, establish risk-based asset management plans and prioritize infrastructure expenditures to improve resiliency and mitigate risks that threaten operational stability. The MARAD Ports Team is also working with the University of Arkansas’ Maritime Transportation Research and Education Center (MarTREC) to develop a geospatial “data hub” data repository that will provide a template for mechanisms and processes to compile, standardize, synchronize and integrate disparate data sources related to maritime transportation and demonstrate large-scale data storage and visualization tools that can be used to improve resiliency, planning, investment and operational decisions.
  • The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) Offices of Pipeline Safety (OPS) and Hazardous Materials (OHMS) are conducting research projects that address safety, environmental sustainability, and climate change. OPS is conducting research to promote safer systems for underground gas storage and liquefied natural gas facilities, as well as research related to the use and transport of hydrogen and hydrogen/natural gas blended fuels by pipeline. In addition, OPS is hoping to reduce methane emissions by sponsoring advanced research in methane detection and leak control. OHMS also focuses on hazardous materials packaging, particularly ways to reduce risks related to the transport of lithium batteries, and new packaging needed to address hazards associated with emerging energy technologies.
  • The Office of International Transportation and Trade engages bilaterally and multilaterally to foster a zero-emission global transformation that addresses climate mitigation, adaptation, and resilience through standards, policies, strategies, research, trade promotion, and technical cooperation and assistance.
  • The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology is working in partnership with FHWA and DOT’s Office of Intelligence, Security, and Emergency Response to ensure that the costs and benefits of resilience are incorporated into the transportation infrastructure planning process. The goal is to develop nationally replicable modeling tools capable of estimating the regional-scale impacts of natural and man-made disasters on the transportation system. These tools will enhance pre-event planning and disaster recovery capabilities.
  • DOT is committed to meeting the Biden-Harris Administration’s climate change goals, including the national target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To that end, DOT has re-instituted and expanded the DOT Climate Change Center (CCC) to build on existing efforts to ensure intermodal coordination and collaboration on climate change activities across the Department. The CCC regularly convenes senior career staff and climate change experts from each of DOT’s Operating Administrations, as well as external stakeholders including other federal agencies and the international community, to coordinate research, policies, and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make our transportation systems more resilient.