OTF Newsletter

CLEAN TRANSPORTATION NEWS ROUND-UP

A Look at Headlines and Public Announcements on Efforts to Modernize and Share the Benefit of Cleaner Transportation


February 2019, Vol 17

Politics: America's Strongest Climate Governor Might Be A Republican E&E News, February 22, 2019. “[Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s] push on transportation is notable on several fronts. Unlike the power sector, transportation emissions have steadily risen in recent years (Climatewire, April 17, 2018).  

Massachusetts is on track to cut emissions 25 percent of 1990 levels by 2020, but it has little hope of meeting a targeted 80 percent reduction by midcentury if it does not tackle emissions from transportation.  "I think he has set himself up to be seen as a leader on climate, but there is a lot more to do, particularly in the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) context,"said Jordan Stutt, carbon programs manager at the Acadia Center, an environmental group focused on the Northeast. "Setting up the framework, moving the conversation forward is really important. He and his administration deserve credit for that. But ultimately he will be judged on whether he establishes a program that reduces emissions. That is where this next year will be so important.

Businesses, Investors Want to Jump-Start NJ’s Push for Plug-In Vehicles NJ Spotlight, February 20, 2019. “New Jersey needs to adopt a wide-ranging bill that would electrify the transportation sector, a critical step to achieving significant reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, according to a dozen businesses and investors.  In a letter to lawmakers, they urged passage of a comprehensive bill (S-2252/A-4819) to promote the use of plug-in electric vehicles, a policy viewed by advocates as accelerating the transition to a clean, modern transportation system.  The legislation cleared the Senate Environment and Energy Committee in October, but shows few signs of advancing further amid a slew of clean-energy initiatives being pushed by the Murphy administration and others.  The investors and businesses — including Friends Fiduciary, Hackensack Meridian, and Ikea — argue that by passing the bill, New Jersey would send a clear economic signal that the Garden State is a leader in the transition to a clean transportation system and economy.”

A Transportation and Climate Action Strategy for Rhode Island and the Northeast EcoRI News, February 20, 2019. “The TCI announcement is a wake-up call for Rhode Island’s ‘Resilient Rhody’ strategy to put a more robust emphasis on the use of public transit to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions (GHG) and meet GHG emissions target reductions…One model is California’s utilization of a GHG pricing assessment. In 2015, 437 companies calculated an internal price on carbon. For example, since 2012 Microsoft business unit managers have included the price of carbon emissions in their unit when reporting profits or losses each quarter. Microsoft business units are then charged an internal tax based on each unit’s energy usage. The money is transferred into a common fund that invests in environmental sustainability projects within the company…Rhode Island could calculate and level charges on transportation-related GHG emissions that would include features of the built environment that increase such emissions — parking garages, parking lots, and development outside transit-rich and walkable sectors — to be deposited into a “carbon mitigation bank.” This bank could then fund targeted projects that reduce transportation-related GHG emissions, such as expanding the scope and frequency for mass transit and built-environment features that enhance walkability and bicycling.”

Report shows how more Pennsylvania drivers can go electric StateImpact, NPR, Pennsylvania. February 19, 2019. “The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has released a plan several years in the making that outlines how the state can boost that number. Education is a key component.  "There's not enough information or not enough being done to let people know what vehicles are available, where to go to get those vehicles to test drive them, where the infrastructure is, how the infrastructure works, and the benefits," said Rick Price, executive director of the nonprofit Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities.  Price is part of a coalition of state officials, clean transportation advocates and businesses that helped develop the plan. It coincides with the state's climate change goals, including a recent announcement by Gov. Tom Wolf that he wants Pennsylvania's greenhouse gas emissions to drop 80 percent by 2050. The transportation sector contributes 20 percent of the state's greenhouse gas emissions.”

Drivers in Maine, other rural areas stand to benefit the most from clean vehicles Portland Press Herald (Opinion, Daniel Gatti of Union of Concerned Scientists), February 18, 2019. “Pollution from transportation now accounts for 52 percent– a majority – of Maine’s economy-wide emissions. Transportation is also a leading source of local air pollution that every day dirties our air and harms our health. While pollution from electricity has declined over 73 percent since 2002, pollution from transportation is on the rise.  Fortunately, new technologies such as electric vehicles have the promise to reduce transportation emissions and save money for Maine drivers. With contemporary battery electric vehicles getting over 200 miles per charge, and a growing selection of plug-in SUVs and pickup trucks coming on the market, electric vehicles can be a solution for drivers in all areas of the state.  Moreover, new analysis shows that people in rural places like Maine are the ones who stand the most to benefit from the transition to clean transportation technologies such as electric vehicles.”

New York should lead on modern, clean transportation Buffalo News (Opinion, Adrienne Wald, Julie Kleber and Katie Cortes), February 18, 2019. “For decades New York State has been an environmental leader. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s new plan to get the state to 100 percent clean power by 2040 is thus an important milestone. But today, the largest source of climate pollution in our state is from transportation: cars, trucks and buses are responsible for 42 percent of the state’s carbon emissions.  Vehicle tailpipe emissions contribute to health problems across the state. According to the American Lung Association, eight of the most populous counties, including Erie, Westchester and Chautauqua, earned an “F” grade for ground-level ozone, which often results in a disproportionate health burden on low-income and communities of color. Patients with chronic diseases as well as the elderly, infants, children and pregnant women also experience the worst effects…  While progress on clean air, clean water and clean energy has been stalled or worse at the federal level, New Yorkers are fortunate to have a governor who is forging ahead. The obvious next step is for the governor to take decisive action to reduce emissions from the transportation sector and improve health outcomes for millions of New Yorkers. Cuomo has a golden opportunity to cement his own climate leadership and join other mid-Atlantic and Northeast states in working together to slash harmful tailpipe pollution and shape our transportation future.”

A rural take on climate change Commonwealth Magazine (Opinion, Stephen Kulik of The Nature Conservancy), February 18, 2019. “The transportation challenges faced by rural residents are significant. When doctors, stores, schools, kids’ sports and more are 25 miles from home, the cost of getting around can be exorbitantly high, whether in terms of fuel, vehicle maintenance, or wear and tear on the driver. For older residents aging away from driving, these distances can create new complications. Simultaneously, they make rural life less appealing for many younger people…The Nature Conservancy-commissioned research indicates rural and small-town Massachusetts voters are concerned about the impacts of climate change, eager to have more transportation options, and strongly support creation of a clean transportation fund that would invest in transportation choices that reduce pollution.”

3 Myths You Should Know About Electric Vehicles In The U.S. Forbes.com, February 18, 2019. “1. Myth:  Consumers believing electric vehicles are more expensive than traditional vehicles.  In 2018, the upfront price of an electric vehicle was still on average higher than that of a traditional gasoline vehicle. However, the true price of a vehicle includes the lifetime costs of owning and operating it. A study by the Electric Power Research Institute, which examined lifetime costs of the electric Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt, showed electric vehicles performed in many cases better than conventional vehicles, due to cheaper fuel and lower maintenance costs.  To subsidize the upfront costs, governments in major countries and cities where electric vehicles are prominent offer financial incentives to electric vehicle buyers. The U.S. Federal government provides a tax credit of up to $7,500 for buyers who purchase qualifying electric vehicles.  Regardless, the upfront costs of electric vehicles will likely fall over time. According to Reuters, major car manufacturers recently invested at least $90 billion into batteries and electric vehicles. This investment combined with rapidly improving battery technologies and dropping battery prices, will also drive down the cost of owning electric vehicles.”

As states look to cut transportation emissions, RGGI offers a model — and room to improve Energy News Network ENN, February 5, 2019. “Many environmental and clean energy advocates agree that elements of RGGI’s design are worth emulating as planning for TCI begins.  The concept of imposing a declining regional cap that includes all participating jurisdictions is essential.  Ensuring that all the participating states are working together to achieve ambitious emissions reductions is helpful in aligning policies with outcomes.  RGGI’s system of regular program reviews is another feature many think TCI should take into consideration.  Every three years, RGGI undergoes a comprehensive review of its impact and design, to ensure the program fixes any flaws and adjusts to changing circumstances. TCI should include a similar mechanism, many agreed, but should be wary of a potential downside: A three-year cycle means problems may not be caught quickly.”


 


The “Clean Transportation News Round-up” is a monthly publication from Our Transportation Future (OTF), a coalition of local, regional and national organizations committed to modernizing transportation across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. OTF is working with business and governmental leaders to develop a 21st Century regional transportation system that is cleaner, offers more transportation options and serves the needs of everyone. For more information or to unsubscribe, contact:  pmitchell@hastingsgroup.com.