Biden Harris & FWHA Launch Low Carbon Transportation Materials Program

As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America agenda and ongoing work to improve air quality, decrease pollution and tackle the climate crisis, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today launched the Low Carbon Transportation Materials Program. The program is aimed at lowering air pollution, specifically greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), through reimbursement and incentive funding for low carbon construction materials and products used in transportation. The program will make $2 billion available from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act for State Departments of Transportation, Tribes, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, and other agencies to buy materials that create less pollution, including steel, concrete, and asphalt.

“Transportation and industrial sectors make up about half of our economy’s emissions contributing to climate change – but today, the Biden-Harris Administration takes another important step to change that,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “As we modernize America’s infrastructure through President Biden’s infrastructure law, we’re proud to announce this first-of-its-kind program to accelerate the use of cleaner construction materials that create less carbon pollution.”

“The Biden-Harris Administration is working to deliver transportation to the American people that is both good for the environment and the economy, which means a better quality of life for everyone,” said Deputy U.S. Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg. “Under the Inflation Reduction Act, this investment will unlock a wave of innovation in the materials and processes that will dramatically reduce carbon emissions in the transportation sector while promoting American manufacturing.”

The Federal Government is the largest purchaser in the world, with an annual purchasing power of over $630 billion. Through the Biden-Harris Administration’s Federal Buy Clean Initiative, the Federal Government is for the first time harnessing that procurement power to prioritize the use of American-made, lower-carbon construction materials.

FHWA is using a hybrid approach to implement the program:

First, FHWA is making $1.2 billion available to states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico through a Request for Applications (RFA) to fund activities and projects that reduce pollution, including carbon emissions, through the use of low-embodied carbon materials and products. This approach will allow FHWA to quickly provide reimbursement or incentive funds to states to begin eligible activities and incorporate low-embodied carbon materials on construction projects now.

Second, later this year FHWA will also make available $800 million to target non-state applicants, including cities, Tribes, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, and other agencies through a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).  This funding opportunity will encourage applicants to partner with states where appropriate and will include offers of technical assistance for applicants.

“To achieve our goal of addressing climate change, we must encourage investment in more sustainable transportation,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt.The use of lower carbon materials, which match the durability of conventional materials while lowering pollution, is one pathway that will help us achieve President Biden’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050.”

In addition to funding the use of cleaner construction materials that reduce pollution and carbon emissions for transportation projects, the program will provide resources for agencies to implement processes and coordinate with industry to quantify the emissions of construction materials. That information will allow substantially lower carbon materials to be identified by comparing emissions to established thresholds. Funding can also be used to develop specifications for low-embodied carbon materials that ensure adequate engineering performance for appropriate use on Federal-aid projects.

The Low Carbon Transportation Materials Grants program is one of three new programs at FHWA created by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. These programs together provide over $5 billon for critical new work.

This program also supports the Department of Transportation’s Buy Clean Initiative and builds on several existing FHWA programs to tackle the climate crisis, including the Pavement Materials Program, Sustainable Pavements Program, Every Day Counts Innovation on Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for Sustainable Project Delivery, the Climate Challenge on Quantifying Emissions of Sustainable Pavements, and the Carbon Reduction Program.

Additionally, as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government Federal Buy Clean Initiative, and consistent with Executive Order 14057, Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability, FHWA continues to closely collaborate with the Environmental Protection Agency and General Services Administration to implement related low carbon programs that were authorized in the Inflation Reduction Act.

The RFA for states is available on FHWA’s Low Carbon Transportation Materials Program Website Low Carbon Transportation Materials Grants Program.