Directed by the federal government to do so, The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) has developed a draft “Carbon Reduction Strategy (CRS),” which it announced in a press release on September 20, was available for public review and comment until September 27.
The National Carbon Reduction Program (CRP) was signed into law as part of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). It provides funding to states if they develop and promote projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions from vehicles and other transportation sources as determined by the Federal Highway Administration which oversees MDT. Under the law, each state must develop guidelines and regulations in consultation with local Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs).
MPOs are organizations required by the federal government, also under the auspices of the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), for communities reaching certain population levels in order for a community to get federal municipal planning & development funds, and to be eligible for transportation funds. Under a “Memorandum of Agreement for Continuing Transportation Planning in the Billings Urbanized Area” the function of an MPO is overseen by the MDT and the FHA.
One of the requirements of an MPO is to establish a city/ county Planning Board comprised of local citizens, which is administered by the city planning staff. A typical municipal planning department gets more than two-thirds of their funding from FHA.
In Montana, three cities are required to have MPOs – Great Falls, Missoula and Billings. In Billings the MPO is called the Policy Coordinating Committee (PCC). The committee is comprised of a city council representative, a county commissioner, a member of the Planning Board, MDT District Administrator, a representative from the state MDT, and the Division Administrator for FHA.
MDT states in a press release that the Montana CRS “provides a baseline summary of carbon emissions associated with Montana transportation and presents localized strategies. These strategies would be funded by the CRP, and include recommendations for implementation and monitoring efforts. The document is intended to assist transportation officials in making future project and program decisions to reduce carbon emissions.”
As of only September 20, the public was encouraged to view the document and comment on it. The press release said the proposal was available at https:// www.mdt.mt.gov/ pubinvolve/crs/ beginning September 13, through Wednesday, September 27, 2023. Comments may be submitted online at http://www.mdt.mt.gov/contact/comment-form.aspx or by contacting Vicki Crnich at 406-444-7653 or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
The press release said that after considering public comments, a final version of the CRS will be posted to the state website.