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Driving down Minnesota’s greenhouse gas emissions

Four key findings

State and local governments can have a positive impact on transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions through policies that reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled on Minnesota’s roadways. Two other approaches -- better fuel efficiency and cleaner fuels -- also are important but more strongly influenced by federal policy, and the potential gains from these two strategies will be undermined unless we reverse our historical pattern of more and more roadway travel. Four key findings from Growth & Justice's initiative on Smart Investments in Transportation for Minnesota can help guide policymakers as they strive to cut greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.  Read More

Land use and transit-oriented development

To drive fewer miles, Minnesotans will need to change how we use land and how we structure our communities. Shorter and fewer car trips will require denser development and a greater mix of uses within those developed areas. Changes in land use -- coupled with and driven in part by expanded transit service for the Twin Cities area in particular -- hold promise for reduced environmental impacts from travel.  Read More


Transit use -- especially when passengers riding transit would otherwise drive cars -- can reduce emissions per passenger mile, because as a rule transit vehicles in urban areas churn out fewer emissions than automobiles. A combination of increased transit use and smart growth land-use patterns will achieve greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions than either transit initiatives or land-use changes on their own.  Read More

Pricing strategies

Policies and arrangements that increase the obvious costs of driving can yield corresponding reductions in vehicle miles traveled and in greenhouse gas emissions, as well as other transportation-related pollutants. And roadway pricing initiatives can provide corollary benefits as well. For example, the MnPASS lanes on I-394 and I-35W can mitigate traffic congestion problems that may plague the thoroughfares leading into and out of concentrated employment centers. Pricing policies have great potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but many of them face significant opposition for the very reason they work -- because they increase the costs directly tied to operating a car.  Read More

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