Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Comment on Draft 10 Year Energy Action Plan

Yesterday the Governor Released a 10 Year Energy Action Plan.

Least cost planning makes an appearance:
ODOT’s least cost planning tool (LCP) is an attempt to improve the ability to measure the true costs and benefits of transportation plans, strategies, and action for development and project identification. LCP seeks to incorporate utility-based efficiency and conservation tools to better address issues such as public health, economic, and environmental impacts. In doing so, it will increase diversity of information considered in transportation decision-making in Oregon. It also can provide a more accurate assessment of potential benefits relative to costs and impacts.

Action Item: The Department of Transportation will incorporate least cost planning into the development of the Oregon Transportation Plan update, modal plan updates, region and corridor planning as well as investment scenarios. The Department of Land Conservation and Development will use this tool in development of Comprehensive Plan updates. Agencies with investment portfolios will study the use of LCP in their decision-making processes as applicable to energy use and energy conservation.
Improved planning for facilities to help people who walk and bike:
The OTC and DLCD staff will update the State’s long-term Modal Plans for Rail, Public Transportation and Bike and Pedestrian to reflect the need for multi-modal planning at both the state and local level. And, focus on the following important additional elements in the updated OTP: energy efficiency and demand management, public health, complete streets design, practical design, least cost planning and inter-modal connectivity.

Action Item: ODOT staff will propose a process for Project Design that would require Traffic Engineers to evaluate the mobility of walking, biking, and transit users in communities when assessing the capacity and mobility of the needs of vehicles. They will then test the evaluation process in demonstration projects. In addition, ODOT, DLCD, DEQ, Public Health, Housing and ODOE staff to work together to develop a multi-modal Level of Service for projects in communities where the existing modal split is 10 percent or higher for combined bike, pedestrian and transit.
And more talk about shifting from the gas tax to a tax on VMT:
Action Item: ODOT will work with stakeholders to conduct a demonstration of an alternative revenue model based on vehicle miles travelled (“VMT”) in an area of Oregon. The VMT must include a vehicle impact fee based on vehicle class, including weight and emissions. The Oregon Transportation Commission (“OTC”) and DLCD staff will work with local communities to assess whether the TSP Guidelines allow for multi-modal projects or inter- and intra-connectivity of modes and make changes accordingly. The state will convene a task force to develop a plan for an alternative funding structure to support a transportation infrastructure that will allow the state to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals for the transportation sector.
All these things will start to capture costs that had been externalized in planning processes, and come closer to showing the genuine value of facilities for people who bike. Non-auto transport should become more competitive and prevail more often as an ingredient in a "least cost" transportation project.

But the Plan's transportation chapter leads with "fleet conversion" - replacing the fuel source for cars - and doesn't question whether the fleet itself should retain the primacy it has. It's a document that doesn't explicitly call into question mega-projects like the Salem River Crossing, which are manifestly incoherent with the action plan's goals. The plan is about cars cars, cars. ("Cars, man, why?")

Why not a principled statement about our overreliance on cars and single-passenger trips, and a funded policy that the State of Oregon will make walking and biking the preferred mode for short trips?

They're taking comment through July 31, 2012. Comments can be sent to

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