Maryland Sierra Club, Maryland Environmental Health Network, Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition and Maryland League of Conservation Voters Sign Letter to MDE, MDOT, and Maryland Climate Change Commission Urging Stronger Commitment on Low-carbon Transportation Policy for Mid-Atlantic.
ANNAPOLIS, MD (August 27, 2018) – Leading environmental, scientific, community, business and labor organizations working to advance clean transportation in Mid-Atlantic and Northeast States assembled today in Largo, Maryland for a meeting organized by Maryland Departments Of Environment, Transportation And Energy (MDE), University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and Georgetown Climate Center. Key stakeholders from across the Mid-Atlantic region are advocating for a plan to modernize transportation, drawing from the states’ success in cutting power plant emissions in the region over the last decade.
In 2016, the Maryland General Assembly passed the reauthorization of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, requiring the state to cut carbon pollution 40% by 2030 from sectors including electricity, transportation, and heating. This transportation public forum comes as the Maryland Department Environment makes decisions on what to include in its draft plan designed to meet these climate reduction targets.
Last year, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Delaware Governor John Carney and Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser pledged to explore a Mid-Atlantic regional initiative to reduce carbon pollution from the transportation sector. The Maryland “Public Listening Session for Clean Transportation and Climate Issues in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States” today attracted state regulators and officials, policy experts, community organizations, and business leaders and others to discuss solutions to the challenges that lay ahead.
The Governors of Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont have made the same commitment to develop a regional clean transportation plan serving Northeast States.
Needed transportation improvements include: new infrastructure for electric vehicles; new light rail service; better public transportation, including zero-emission bus service; and new programs to ensure low-income and marginalized communities have access to transportation options that are affordable, convenient, and non-polluting.
Maryland groups attending the Public listening Session today in Largo, MD joined a sign-on letter pressing state lawmakers for a strong and specific commitment to formulate a regional transportation policy that would achieve, at minimum, a 40% reduction in transportation sector pollution by 2030. The letter, along with a complete list of the signers is available online at: https://www.sierraclub.org/sites/www.sierraclub.org/files/sce-authors/u2410/TCI%20Group%20letter_1.pdf.
Maryland Sierra Club Director Josh Tulkin said: “It’s time to take the regional, innovative cap and invest model that successfully cut dangerous pollution from the power sector and apply it to the transportation sector--the #1 source responsible for climate-disruption. Maryland has a major opportunity and obligation to be a part of a cross-state transformation into a clean, equitable, and 21st century transportation system that enables us to travel by public transit, walkable and bikeable infrastructure, and electric vehicles--enabling healthier lifestyles, thriving economic centers, and a safer climate for us all.”
Brian O'Malley, president & CEO, Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, said: "A great transportation system keeps you and your environment healthy and we’re far from that in Maryland and neighboring states. We urge Maryland to set its sights on reducing tailpipe emissions and to choose policies that get us there. Reversing planned cuts to public transportation budgets is a critical and necessary first step.”
Tamara Toles O'Laughlin, executive director, Maryland Environmental Health Network, said: "As an environmental health organization, we are heartened by joint efforts that recognize the regional impact of local transportation on climate and health. According to US EPA, 27 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is from transportation. We cannot afford to ignore man made threats to human health or to build solutions without the input of impacted communities who are disenfranchised by air pollution from fossil fueled cars and buses, exclusive highway systems, and related air and water pollution. Communities have a lot to say and we hope that everyone is listening."
Samuel Jordan, president, Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition, said: "The Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition urges MDE, MDOT,and MCCC to commit to aggressive reduction in harmful pollutants emitted by the public transportation fleet, accompanied by increased use of renewable energy and completion of the Red Line light rail project which programs also provide congestion relief and equitable, economy-boosting transit-oriented-development that cannot be achieved by bus-focused transit and congestion-inducing, environmentally destructive highway expansion programs."
Ramon Palencia-Calvo, director, Chispa Maryland, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, said: "This is an exciting time to design a transportation system that is clean, sustainable, and equitable, and benefits all Marylanders. Low income communities and communities of color suffer disproportionately from air pollution that increases the risk of asthma, heart disease, infant mortality, and cancer in these communities. The opportunity of addressing these inequalities while providing transportation solutions will greatly improve the quality of life in these communities. Accessible and affordable housing, well-paying jobs, great schools, and a safe environment are all reasons why this is an opportunity that we cannot miss."
Daniel Gatti, policy analyst at Clean Vehicles Program, Union of Concerned Scientists, said: "We have an opportunity to build a clean, modern transportation system for Maryland, and these listening sessions are the first step. Marylanders need a full range of clean, fair transportation options, including expanded public transportation, electric vehicles, bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and affordable housing near transit, and we look forward to the chance to talk about these issues with state officials. In light of the Trump administration’s attacks on vehicle emissions standards, it’s more critical than ever for states like Maryland to lead on clean transportation."
Jordan Stutt, carbon programs director, Acadia Center, said: “Maryland should advance regional policy to achieve local goals. Putting a price on carbon emissions from the region’s power plants has generated over $600 million for Maryland to reinvest in clean energy and to help reduce energy bills for low-income consumers. A similar multi-state effort in the transportation sector would help Maryland achieve a future with cleaner air, better transportation options, and a booming economy.”
Bruce Ho, senior advocate, Climate & Clean Energy Program, NRDC, said: “Maryland has a golden opportunity to fix what’s broken and transform the region’s transportation system so it’s healthier, cleaner and better for everyone. That includes making streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, improving public transit, expanding clean electric vehicles powered by homegrown renewable energy, and ensuring that the transportation system is more equitable and serves low-income Americans. Now is the time to invest in the future.”
Transportation policy experts in Maryland and Washington, D.C. are available for interviews about the Largo, MD Listening Session, upcoming sessions, and proposals for how states can develop a regional clean, modern and equitable transportation initiative.
ABOUT THE GROUPS
Leading environmental, scientific and business organizations, including Acadia Center, Ceres, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and Union of Concerned Scientists are working together to advance modern, efficient, and clean low-carbon transportation solutions in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. The groups are focused on improving our transportation system -- the ways we move people and goods in the region – to spur economic growth, make us healthier and safer, clean up the environment, and improve our quality of life. An improved transportation system means more clean cars and trucks, more reliable mass transit, more walkable and bikeable communities, and investments that connect everyone, including those in underserved and rural areas.
MEDIA CONTACT: Alex Frank, (703) 276-3264 or [email protected].