Policy options for incorporating life-cycle environmental assessment into transportation planning

William Eisenstein, Mikhail Chester, Stephanie Pincetl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This paper examines the potential for incorporating life-cycle assessment (LCA) into transportation planning and policy by drawing on analysis and precedent-setting policy structures from California. The paper first summarizes a case study of a transportation system LCA for Los Angeles County and briefly describes the existing structure of transportation policy, emissions regulation, and existing partial precedents for incorporating LCA and decision criteria into transportation policy and planning. Using standard criteria for good policy, the paper then identifies and describes six possible policy mechanisms for incorporating LCA into the transportation planning process. These include legislative requirements for project planning, a preferential finance program, a planning standard for regional transportation plans, an environmental impact assessment criterion, a criterion for selecting transportation control measures under the federal Clean Air Act, and a cap-and-trade system for transportation-related life-cycle emissions. The advantages and disadvantages of each approach are identified, with an ultimate recommendation to refine and pursue a blended approach focusing on the regional planning scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-37
Number of pages8
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number2397
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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