Transportation in the United States produces 1.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide-equivalent GHG emissions (27% of U.S. totals) and is a significant source of criteria pollutants, particularly nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter. Emissions have fallen steadily, however, over the last four decades due to emission control requirements. Despite this progress, significant additional changes will be needed to enable a transportation system that contributes to the economy-wide reductions in GHGs called for in long-term goals.
Other systemic costs include loss of time due to traffic congestion, loss of life and property damage from accidents, noise, harm to habitat, and the other opportunity costs such as real estate used for parking lots rather than economically productive use or shared open space. Transportation fuel accounts for the majority of average household energy costs—nearly $4,000 per household in 2014.
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