OTF Newsletter

January 2020, Vol 27

TCI is the solution to Virginia's transportation, climate problems The Free Lance-Star/Fredricksburg, VA (opinion)January 22, 2020. Ken Lockin: “The other great advantage of TCI is its regional approach. Virginia’s transportation systems are intimately connected to Washington, D.C., Maryland and the entire region, so a real solution to transportation challenges must be regional as well. TCI has broad support from the general public as well as members of the private sector. More than 50 companies have shared their support for TCI and the importance of a regional approach to tackling transportation emissions. And recent polling shows strong public support for TCI, with 60 percent of respondents in favor of their state joining the program. As a coastal state, Virginia is already experiencing the threats of climate change more than most—and scientists have made it clear that we must dramatically scale up efforts to reduce GHG emissions if we are to mitigate the worst impacts of a warming world."

TCI would help rural Vermonters VT Digger (opinion), January 16, 2020. Daniel Gatti: Rural drivers also have the greatest potential to benefit from the transition to clean vehicle technologies such as electric vehicles. Drivers living outside of urban areas often have farther to travel to work, shop, and visit a doctor. They have to repair their vehicles more frequently, they produce more carbon emissions per capita, and they spend more money on gasoline. Electric vehicles promise a future of lower emissions, reduced consumer costs, and a more resilient local economy for rural areas.The good news is that electric vehicle technology has advanced to the point that electric vehicles are now a viable solution for drivers in all communities."

New Hampshire a regional outlier on climate, clean energy under Gov. Sununu Energy News NetworkJanuary 8, 2020. “'This administration has been slow to embrace the economic benefits of clean energy and clean transportation and is not doing enough to take on climate change,' said Jordan Stutt, carbon programs director at the Acadia Center. 'While all the states have room to improve, we’ve seen the least progress in New Hampshire in recent years.' 'It’s an embarrassment,' said state Sen. David Watters, D-Dover, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee. 'New Hampshire is stuck.' Despite Sununu’s declaration that New Hampshire is out, state statute gives the legislature that decision-making authority, according to Watters. (The governor’s office did not respond to questions.) If New Hampshire decides to sit it out, Watters said he fears the state will be at an economic disadvantage. 'We will not then have that money to invest in efficiencies,' he said. 'Other states will have it to put into electrification, or making grants to the trucking industry to increase the efficiency of their fleets, and so on.'"

Baker’s climate program could help rural commuters The Boston Globe (Opinion), January 2, 2020. Stephen Kulik and Daniel E. Bosley: “The program’s revenue could fund more frequent buses routes and keep commuter lines operating throughout western Massachusetts. It could also defray the cost of a new commuter rail to Worcester or Boston — and help Pioneer Valley residents tap into Boston’s hot job market. In addition, TCI funds could give residents in the western part of the state more opportunities to work remotely. One in five Franklin County residents lacks a reliable internet connection. The state could use TCI revenues to expand broadband access in rural counties. With faster networks, some residents could skip their commutes altogether and work from home."

Groups Funded by Oil Industry Bash Plan to Reduce Northeast's Dependence on Oil DeSmog Blog, January 26, 2020. “In Virginia, the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy is ramping up criticism of TCI though an opposition campaign that includes questionable polling and research. The Jefferson Institute is another conservative think tank, a member of the State Policy Network, and signatory of the TCI opposition letter. The Jefferson Institute is promoting a new report, conducted by one of its own staff members, filled with misleading information about the expected impacts of TCI. For example, the report claims that TCI will have no health benefits, will prevent no deaths, and will have no environmental benefits, citing dubious sources including the Koch-funded Texas Public Policy Foundation and notorious climate science denier Steve Milloy."

Baker Homes In On Climate Change, Transportation, Housing In Annual Address WBUR/Boston, MAJanuary 22, 2020. “'Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation have been on the rise for decades and now represent 40% of this state’s total emissions,' Baker said. 'Unless we take on transportation, we won’t meet our objectives. I get that this is going to be hard. But together, we have a real opportunity and a responsibility to achieve a significant reduction in transportation emissions.' The Governor says TCI would deliver millions of dollars in needed investments in transportation infrastructure."


Resources & Announcements


Trouble in the Air: Millions of Americans Breathed Polluted Air in 2018 Environment America Research & Policy Center, Frontier Group and U.S. PIRG Education Fund, January 28, 2020. “'One-third of all Americans live in areas that suffered through at least 100 days of poor air quality due to air pollution in 2018, according to a new report by Environment America Research & Policy Center, Frontier Group and U.S. PIRG Education Fund. Statistics from 2018 represent the most recent data available. Air pollution increases the risk of premature death, asthma attacks and other adverse health impacts. For the report, Trouble in the Air: Millions of Americans Breathed Polluted Air in 2018, researchers reviewed Environmental Protection Agency air pollution records from across the United States. The report focuses on ground-level ozone and fine particulate pollution, both of which are harmful pollutants emitted by burning fossil fuels such as coal, diesel, gasoline, natural gas and other sources such as wildfires. "

Power plant emissions down 47% under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Yale Climate Communications, January 16, 2020. “RGGI is also providing a template across the globe for similar programs and for its own member states who with others are working towards a program designed to lower carbon emissions from transportation – the Transportation and Climate Initiative or TCI. But perhaps most important, for those who maintain that putting a price on carbon is the best way to lower emissions and who lament that no such system exists at the federal level and is not soon likely to – RGGI serves as a potential modelIt is at its core a price on carbon. And participants and observers say it works. 'Yes – it was the first example and continues to be one of the best examples,' says Ben Grumbles, secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment, who just completed his term as chair of RGGI. 'With strong headwinds at the federal level, the success story at the state level and on a regional basis is drawing more and more attention.'"  

Why Rural Communities Need Clean Transportation Union of Concerned Scientists Blog, January 28, 2020.  “Overall, UCS analysis has found that rural residents have the potential to save up to twice as much as urban residents by making the switch from a conventional sedan to an electric vehicle.  These savings are likely to be even greater for drivers of pickup trucks. In Vermont, we estimate that the average driver who trades in a conventional pickup truck for a battery electric version could save over $800 per year in reduced fueling costs. Bringing clean vehicle technologies to rural areas will not only benefit rural drivers, but it will also improve whole rural economies. Nearly all the money that we spend on gasoline and diesel fuel ultimately leaves our towns and our region, for other parts of the world. As electric vehicles replace the internal combustion engine on our roads, there will be more money in consumers’ pockets – which means more jobs, and more local development for our small towns.



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