Transportation Secretary Perdue has turned down funds aimed at reducing tailpipe emission from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. (Photo by Jonathan Gallegos)
Florida Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue has turned down $320 million in federal money aimed at reducing tailpipe emissions, arguing that federal transportation officials are overstepping their authority.
Perdue notified U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in mid-November that the state will not participate in the federal Carbon Reduction Program, a five-year, $6.4 billion effort focused on emissions that contribute to climate change.
The program was authorized in the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021.
Perdue wrote that “nothing within the (law) explicitly allows for federally-induced mandates for states to track, or achieve a certain level, of reduced CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation had not published or provided guidance, Perdue added, “on the process under which the secretary will certify state transportation emissions reductions.”
“Rather than support the continued politicization of our roadways, FDOT’s time, money, and resources will be focused on building roads and bridges — not reducing carbon emissions,” Perdue wrote.
After Perdue’s letter to Buttigieg, the White House on Nov. 22 announced a finalized performance measure for state transportation agencies to track transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions and set reduction targets. The performance measure does not impose penalties for missing targets.
“Every state has its own unique climate challenges, and every state ought to have the data, funding and flexibility it needs to meet those challenges head on,” Buttigieg said Nov. 22.
The program is part of $27 billion in the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act intended for carbon reduction.
Ali DySard, a senior policy specialist at the Environmental Defense Fund’s Florida office, expressed disappointment in Perdue’s decision.
“This decision denies Florida residents significant financial benefits and cost-saving opportunities, impacting schools, municipal fleets and potentially saving hundreds of millions of residents’ dollars,” DySard said in a statement. “It also hinders initiatives that could have helped ensure port electrification, funding for non-motorized SUN (shared-use nonmotorized) trails and the enhancement of infrastructure for long-haul commercial trucking, ultimately impeding the state’s readiness for the future of transportation.”
Florida has put forward plans to spend up to $46 million to build 26 truck-parking areas with commercial vehicle charging stations. The Legislature approved $200 million in the spring to expand SUN trails.
Meanwhile, the Senate Transportation Committee and the House Infrastructure Strategies transportation and modals subcommittee took up similar bills (S.B. 28 and H.B. 107) that would require owners of electric vehicles to pay a yearly registration fee, starting at $200, to make up for lost gasoline taxes.
A Senate staff analysis this year said an increase in electric vehicles could reduce “motor-fuel based revenue streams” by up to 20 percent by 2040.
Perdue’s letter came after Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed $30 million that would have allowed state agencies to seek up to $346 million in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grants to improve energy efficiency in buildings.
“As highlighted in Florida’s recent response to a similar proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” Perdue wrote, “Florida has the cleanest air on record, meeting or exceeding all EPA benchmarks, with emissions continuing to fall as fast as our state grows.”