Rather than confine efforts to its own facilities, the Port Authority must include tenants and customers in its pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050.
Remarks to the Port Authority of NY&NJ, July 26, 2018
The Port Authority was founded a hundred years ago to coordinate travel between New York and New Jersey. If it is to continue for the next hundred years, it must accept the challenge of climate change, and to coordinate the states’ transition to sustainable modes of transportation.
In 2008, it tried, resolving to reduce greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions from facilities, tenants and customers 80 percent by 2050.1 But just two years later it gave up, declaring emissions of tenants and customers, 95% of total, beyond its “boundary of influence.” The Agency further declined to inventory its emissions for years,2 or to quantify their impact beyond its own facilities.3
That’s like Willie Sutton filing a 1040 and omitting “miscellaneous income.”
A correlation has been established between the rise of temperatures and CO2 levels since the 1950s6. So too the expansion of Port facilities and the growth of air and automotive travel across the region – which speaks to the PA’s wherewithal to influence tenants and customers.
The PA’s current Capital Plan7 continues to invest heavily in its biggest GHG emitters–airports, terminals, bridges and tunnels, while underinvesting in systems, like PATH, that reduce emissions.8 And reductions resulting from PATH’s extension to Newark Airport will be offset by the increase in air travel.9
In December 2015, then-PA Chair John Degnan declared environmental concerns “incidental” to the Agency’s transportation mission.11 His timing was unfortunate. In 2016, greenhouse emissions from the U.S. transportation sector surpassed power generation for the first time since the 1970’s.
But that hasn’t stopped the states from forging ahead. Both New York and New Jersey are signatories to the Transportation and Climate Initiative.12 The NJ Board of Public Utilities announced it would start work on an Energy Master Plan, which will include transportation.13 As may future iterations of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“RGGI”).14
Over the coming decades, the states have committed to significantly realign their transportation priorities to meet their 80 by 50 obligations. So must the Port Authority if it is to remain a relevant player.
 “On March 27, 2008, the (PA) Board of Commissioners expanded its environmental policy to include a sustainability component that explicitly addresses the problem of climate change and ensures that the Agency maintains an aggressive posture in its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The cornerstone of the policy is a goal to reduce GHG emissions stemming from Port Authority facilities, tenants, and customers by 80 percent by 2050.”, Air Quality and Emissions Reductions, PANYNJ, https://tinyurl.com/ycefpve4
 “Scope 3 emissions (tenants and customers) will be reported every five years. Scope 1 and 2 inventories (PA facilities) will continue on an annual basis.” 2010 GHG and CAG Inventory, Executive Summary P.x, PANYNJ, https://tinyurl.com/yddtsrjz
 “[Use of] airplanes, up to 3,000 feet. (Automotive) emissions based on vehicle volume, the roadway length of each facility, and the vehicle hours of delay in toll lane queues.”, Boundaries for each Department in the GHG Emissions Inventory, 2007 GHG and CAG Inventory, P. 4, PANYNJ, https://tinyurl.com/yd8yrsu8
 Total PA GHG emissions were 5.9 million metric tons in 2015 as compared to 5.8 million tons in the base year 2006. Air Quality and Emissions Reductions, PANYNJ, https://tinyurl.com/ycefpve4
 To put the PA on target to reach its 80% target by 2050 of 1.2 million tons, it would have to reduce emissions by 3.6% per year. Or to 4.2 million tons in 2015. Moneychimp Discount Rate and Compound Interest Calculators, https://tinyurl.com/4ghj6, https://tinyurl.com/46syn
 “The Keeling Curve plots the ongoing change in concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere since the 1950s, based on continuous measurements taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii that began under the supervision of Charles David Keeling. The most recent publicized measurement on May, 26, 2018 is 411.89 parts per million.” Wikipedia, https://tinyurl.com/yalroak3
 2017-2026 PA Capital Plan, PANYNJ, https://tinyurl.com/yckjvmvc
 Out of $32.2 billion, the PATH allocation is $4.3 billion. Of that, $1.0 billion is Sandy Recovery funds and $1.7 billion is to extend access to Newark Airport, 2017-2026 PA Capital Plan
 The Need To Increase Travel Options to Newark Liberty International Airport., Path Extension Scoping Document, Section 2.5.3, 2017, PANYNJ, https://tinyurl.com/y85xlvrn
 “[The Bicycle Master Plan’s] recommendations are wholly independent of the funding and prioritization decisions outlined in the agency’s Capital Plan.”, Bicycle Master Plan, 2017, PANYNJ, https://tinyurl.com/ycnaac8k
 “The [Sustainability Report] itself in my mind confuses that core mission by elevating other matters to the status of objectives. In my mind sustainability has got to be incidental to be consistent with and foster the core mission.”, Chairman Degnan, 12/10/15 PA Board meeting, PANYNJ Videos, https://tinyurl.com/znlnpjq
 Declaration of Intent, Transportation & Climate Initiative, https://tinyurl.com/y87pm5fy
 BPU Goes Giddyap as Murphy Wants NJ on Fast Track to Clean Energy, NJSpotlight, https://tinyurl.com/y8uhpdz4
 In 2017, New Jersey announced its intentions to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which may ultimately include transportation., New Regional Initiative, RGGI for the Transportation Sector, NJSpotlight, https://tinyurl.com/y7kntyu5