On 2/3/2021, Pete Buttigieg was sworn in as the 19th Secretary of Transportation.
On 1/20/2021, President Biden issued an executive order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis. On 4/22/2021, in response to President
Biden’s executive Order, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed
withdrawing the SAFE I Rule, which prevented states from issuing state-specific greenhouse gas
emissions standards. Secretary Buttigieg commented that “[t]he transportation sector is the biggest
contributor to greenhouse gases in our economy – which means it can and must be a big part of the
climate solution.” If withdrawn, states will be free to set emissions standards for commercial motor
vehicles operating within their borders. The public comment period ends 5/22/2021.
On 4/21/21, the DOT announced it was appointing Robert C. Hampshire, Ph.D. as Chief Science
Officer in an effort to meet the Biden Administration’s focus on climate change and “restore scientific
integrity” to the DOT. Dr. Hampshire was previously associate professor at University of Michigan’s
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. As Chief Science Officer, Dr. Hampshire will head the DOT’s
Climate Change Center to coordinate the DOT’s efforts to create net-zero carbon emissions. The Climate Change Center was last active during the Obama Administration.
On 4/21/21, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced $10 million in grant funding available for transit planning that supports President Biden’s 1/20/21 executive order on “environmental
justice” and a second executive order entitled Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved
Communities Through the Federal Government. Suggested planning topics include studies for new
light-rail, heavy rail, commuter rail, or bus systems with designated right of ways. The application
period for grant funding closes June 21, 2021.
On 4/13/2021, the DOT published a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for $1 billion in discretionary funds for 2021 under the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity
(RAISE) grant program. Similar funding opportunities were offered by the Trump Administration
under the TIGER grant program. Secretary Buttigieg indicated that priority will be given to projects
that can “demonstrate improvements to racial equity, reduce impacts of climate change and create
On 4/26/2021, in recognition of National Work Zone Awareness Week, the Federal Motor Carrier
Safety Administration (FMCSA) challenged all commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers to “share
work zones safely.” According to a 2019 Federal Highway Administration study, 1/3 of all fatal accidents occurred in work zones.
On 1/21/2021, the FMCSA announced a new pilot program to evaluate two additional options for
splitting sleeper birth periods. Participants will have the additional option of dividing 10 consecutive
hours of off-duty or sleeper birth time into 6 hours in the sleeper birth and 4 hours off duty or 5 hours
in the sleeper birth and 5 hours off duty.
This publication is not intended to be all-encompassing and does not cover all situations and exceptions to general rules. To discuss the applicability or interpretation of any provision of the law to a specific situation, please contact an attorney at Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo, LLP.