Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rule Finalized by Biden Administration

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) finalized an APA-supported planning rule for greenhouse gas emissions, including the release of a reduction tool to move climate change performance measurement forward. This performance measure provides State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) with a national framework to track transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions as well as set their targets.

This is the first time DOT has established a requirement for climate goals and measurement as part of the transportation planning process. The move comes as DOT has implemented a series of new programs focused on climate change as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This includes new core federal transportation programs, such as the Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) program and the Carbon Reduction program.

Taken together, the new programs and the new rule mark a significant advance in the integration of climate, resilience, and transportation planning.

How Does It Work?

This rule is a new requirement for the transportation planning process. Each state will set a target for reducing emissions using a baseline number and MPOs will write their plans that will contribute to the state's set goal.

Every state has its own set of challenges, and the rule gives states a clear framework to set targets and track progress. States and MPOs have flexibility in setting goals provided that the goal envisions a decline in emissions. Progress toward emission goals is intended to factor into state and regional planning and decision-making on critical projects and investments. Regular progress reports will be required.

The rule requires state DOTs to establish 2– and 4-year statewide emissions reduction targets and MPOs to establish 4-year emissions reduction targets. DOT-provided tools will aid in setting targets and measuring progress. States are required to establish initial target goals by February 1, 2024, with subsequent goals set by October 1, 2026. Goal setting and performance measurement will be an ongoing planning requirement with the Transportation Performance Management (TPM) framework.

According to the FHWA, transportation is the top source of greenhouse gas emissions in our country. According to the  DOT, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes over $27 billion in funding across programs and agencies used to reduce carbon pollution.

APA Endorses Climate-conscious Planning Measures

The American Planning Association supports this performance measure and sees it as a step in the right direction for both climate and infrastructure policy. Understanding climate impacts is an essential part of the planning process.

APA strongly supported the incorporation of climate change programs and requirements in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Planning sits at the intersection of housing, transportation, and land use and is uniquely positioned to help elected officials take actions that reduce emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

APA is excited to work with the Department of Transportation in the upcoming months to educate and inform advocates on the way climate and transportation policy align with pro-planning programs and zoning reform opportunities.

Promote Climate Action Through Policy


Climate change is a real threat both in the future and today as communities face accelerating risks now.

APA's Climate Change Policy Guide arms planners with guidance for creating locally and regionally tailored climate policies, plans, programs, projects, standards, and regulations.

Top image: iStock / Getty Images Plus - LIVINUS

Sophia Flionis is APA's public affairs consultant.

January 2, 2024

By Sophia Flionis