OTF News Releases

Northeast And Mid-Atlantic Governors Lauded For Announcement On Transportation And Climate

Stakeholders See a Promising Model in RGGI’s Successful “Cap-and-Invest” Approach to Tackling Power Plant Emissions; NRDC, Acadia Center, Sierra Club, UCS and Others Praise Initial Step by States.

BOSTON AND BONN – November 13, 2017 – Leading environmental, health, scientific and business organizations today applauded the announcement by seven states and Washington, D.C. of plans to develop a regional policy to reduce carbon pollution from the transportation sector. The move was endorsed today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Acadia Center, Sierra Club, and Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), and five other groups.

The announcement by Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont as made during the Bonn Climate Change Summit.

All of the states in question have years of experience with what is known as the “cap-and-invest” model through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) for power plant emissions.  In the eight years since RGGI arrived on the scene, carbon pollution from power plants has fallen by 40 percent, while the program has simultaneously saved consumers money, increased economic growth, created jobs and improved public health.

One possible path for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states would be to adopt a program similar to RGGI for an upgraded and cleaner transportation system.  The cap-and-invest model would provide funding and incentives to: accelerate adoption of electric cars, trucks and buses; expand public transit and ride sharing; and build walkable, bikable and transit-oriented communities accessible to all residents. These solutions can mean fewer delays, safer travel, reduced health and climate impacts … and, just as importantly, more jobs and a more equitable transportation system that benefits everyone, including those who need help the  most. It is estimated that a RGGI-like approach would cut transportation climate pollution by 40 percent, create more than 100,000 new jobs and put $14.4 billion in families’ pockets – all by 2030.

Statements from the nine groups follow:

Ken Kimmell, president, Union of Concerned Scientists, and former chairman, RGGI board of directors, said: “The states’ announcement today is an important one, as the states have now committed to robust public input on the critical issue of providing a better, cleaner transportation system in the northeast and mid-Atlantic states.  All good policies start with listening to the public, and the states’ decision to do so now shows that they are serious about tackling this problem and that they are going about it the right way. It appears that one of the options for discussion is a regional cap and invest program covering transportation fuels; this option could help improve our public transportation system, provide more affordable housing near public transit, and speed the transition to electric vehicles. These investments will mean more jobs, better health, less money spent on gasoline, and more mobility choices for Northeast/mid-Atlantic residents.”

Jackson Morris, director, Eastern Energy, NRDC, said: “As the Trump administration continues its reckless climate denial, states are stepping up and doubling down on climate action. Cleaning up transportation will turbocharge this region’s economy, reduce traffic jams, and save consumers money. The commitment of these bipartisan governors to lead on transportation, just as they’ve led on clean energy for years, is an important step in capturing the jobs and economic opportunities that will flow from a clean and modern transportation system.”

Mark Kresowik, deputy regional director, Sierra Club, said: “Modernizing and electrifying our transportation sector creates jobs, grows our economy, reduces congestion and other traffic delays, and saves lives. Northeast states already have a proven bipartisan model to reduce climate-disrupting pollution and improve an energy system, the successful and popular Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. As Northeast state officials continue to lead on climate protection, and commit to listening to their constituents in developing a clean and prosperous energy future, they should apply lessons learned from RGGI to limit pollution from transportation fuels and invest in clean mobility for our families, businesses, and communities.”

Jordan Stutt, policy analyst, Acadia Center, said: “We commend these states for providing climate leadership when we need it most. Transportation accounts for more carbon pollution than any other sector, but as we have seen from RGGI, regional, market-based climate policy can reduce harmful emissions while driving the economy forward.”

Phelps Turner, staff attorney, Conservation Law Foundation, said: “Transportation is the single largest source of climate-disrupting emissions that pollute our air and threaten our health. And with a federal government that refuses to act on climate change, it’s more critical than ever that local leaders step up. Today’s announcement demonstrates a firm commitment to expanding the proven RGGI model and ensuring that the future of transportation is safe, affordable and clean.”

“As a network of businesses committed to promoting clean energy, the Ceres BICEP network applauds the decision by the seven governors and the Mayor of the District of Columbia to pursue common sense policies that would reduce transportation pollution,” said Anne Kelly, senior director of policy and the BICEP Network, Ceres. “A regional approach to cutting transportation emissions is an efficient and effective way to grow the economy and protect the planet. We, along with our business members, look forward to opportunities to participate in and influence the stakeholder process over the coming year.”

Claire Coleman, climate and energy attorney, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, said: “We commend these states – particularly our own State of Connecticut – for their climate leadership at a time when federal action is shamefully absent. The participation of state leaders at the U.N. climate talks in Bonn, Germany make clear that strong state action is critical for reducing emissions to meet state and international targets. A regional, market-based policy for transportation pollution would improve health while creating jobs and generating billions in revenue – dollars states could use to reinvest in clean transportation opportunities, particularly for underserved communities most impacted by pollution.”

Nancy Goodman, vice president for policy, Environmental League of Massachusetts, said: “We applaud the Baker administration for moving, along with other states in the region, to reduce carbon pollution from transportation.   A cap and invest approach can be a win/win—reducing emissions while raising much needed revenue for a clean, green, well-functioning transportation system.  It’s more important than ever for states to lead.”

Chris Dempsey, director, Transportation for Massachusetts, said: "We applaud these states for moving forward together on a regional framework. A cap and invest program, building on the success of the RGGI program, has the potential to both make our transportation system greener, healthier, and more equitable while also making key transportation investments that are badly needed all across Massachusetts."

MEDIA CONTACT:  Pat Mitchell, (703) 276-3266 or [email protected].