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AAR calls for market-based solutions to combat climate change

AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies
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The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today outlined its policy proposals aimed at combatting climate change.

AAR officials called on lawmakers to embrace economically grounded, market-based solutions that can move the nation toward lower-or-zero-carbon choices.

Specifically, the AAR called on policymakers to:
• Enact a reasonable, market-based emissions-reductions strategy to empower competition;
• Restore the Highway Trust Fund to a user-pays system with a short-term fuel tax increase followed by a structured transition to a vehicle-miles-traveled fee in the longer term; and
• Impose an emissions surcharge based on vehicle fuel efficiency to provide dedicated funding for environmentally efficiency passenger rail where appropriate.

"Policymakers, businesses and individuals must unite and act swiftly on smart, lasting solutions to fuel economic recovery and protect our environment," said AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Ian Jefferies in a press release. "Well-designed, economically sound policies can effectively drive the economy toward lower overall emissions, specifically in the transportation sector. Railroads stand ready to be a part of the solution."

AAR officials also highlighted the impact railroads can have on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Today, railroads account for roughly 40% of U.S. long-distance freight volume, more than any other transportation mode. At the same time, railroads account for 2.1% of transportation-related emissions, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data.

If 10% of the freight shipped today by the largest trucks were moved by rail instead, GHG emissions would fall more than 17 million tons annually, or the equivalent of removing 3.35 million cars from roads, AAR officials said.

The full set of AAR's policy proposals may be read here.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/1/2021