Congressman Huffman Reintroduces Legislation to Reduce Carbon Pollution from National Highway System

February 07, 2024

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-02) reintroduced the Generating Resilient, Environmentally Exceptional National (GREEN) Streets Act. This legislation would establish national goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the national highway system and help states adapt their transportation systems to the adverse effects of climate change.

“Tackling climate change is going to mean re-envisioning the current model of highways and long commutes to a model of safer, healthier, and more resilient communities,” said Rep. Huffman, a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “With the GREEN Streets Act, we can transform how we measure success in the federal transportation program and how we hold federal and state decision-makers accountable for reducing carbon pollution. Through innovative, green solutions, we can build back a better transportation sector that restores the health of our communities and advances the nation’s clean energy goals.”

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced a companion version of this bill in the Senate earlier this year.

“The national highway system is driving up emissions and polluting our planet,” said Senator Markey, said Senator Markey, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee and co-author of the Green New Deal resolution. “Our GREEN Streets Act will revolutionize our transportation system by prioritizing smarter, safer, and healthier modes of travel. Let’s stop sitting in traffic, and start moving toward a zero-emission future.”

Since 2016, the transportation sector has been the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the nation, accounting for over 28 percent of total emissions. The GREEN Streets Act is endorsed by nearly 100 grassroots transit and environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Coalition for Transit Justice, Union of Concerned Scientists, and the LivableStreets Alliance.

A copy of the GREEN Streets Act can be found here.

Even with the interstate highway system completed, the federal transportation program has a singular focus on highway expansion, rewarding states that expand highways the most with more federal funding. With roads subsidized by the federal government, localities struggle to stay ahead of development that spreads further from the center of metro areas, forcing people to travel further to access jobs and services. The resulting growth in driving and congestion leads to demand for more roads, which induces even more driving, and even more emissions.

To address these issues, the GREEN Streets Act specifically:

  • Directs the Secretary of Transportation to establish minimum standards for states to use to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and per capita vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on the national highway system;
  • Directs the Transportation Secretary to establish measures that states can use to assess and reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions on the national highway system;
  • Requires states that have fallen out of compliance with the per capita VMT standards or carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas emission measures to dedicate federal highway funding to come into compliance;
  • Requires states and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to consider projects and strategies that reduce per capita VMT and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector; and
  • Requires states and MPOs to publish an analysis of the impact on per capita VMTs and mobile source greenhouse gas emissions for each project that adds new lanes or otherwise increases traffic capacity and costs more than $25 million.

“The GREEN Streets Act is vital legislation which will alleviate greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s roads, enhance access and connectivity in communities, and promote environmental justice and climate resilience in our transportation systems. The climate crisis is not coming. It is here now. [This] bill is an important step towards addressing the crisis on the scale that is needed,” said LeeAnn Hall, Director of Alliance for a Just Society staffing the National Campaign for Transit Justice.