OTF Newsletter

November and December 2019, Vol. 26

Eastern States Introduce a Plan to Cap Tailpipe PollutionNew York TimesDecember 17, 2019. “The region’s cars, trucks and other forms of transport are now responsible for more than 40 percent of its greenhouse gas pollution, according to the Energy Information Administration.The plan’s backers also stress the importance of regional action at a time when the Trump administration is rolling back a range of climate policies, including weakening standards that would have forced automakers to meet far more stringent fuel efficiency rules. 'When we’re going backward at the federal level, for states to step up and take action on climate, take steps to modernize our transportation system, it’s just an unprecedented opportunity,' said Jordan Stutt, carbon programs director at the Acadia Center, a research and public interest group in New England that is pushing for cleaner energy. 'If designed well, this can be the most significant sub-national climate policy ever.'” 

MassINC poll: Infrastructure, climate change concerns drive broad support for greener transportation policyMassLive, December 11, 2019. “Strong concerns about failing roads, transit rigamarole and the impacts of climate change have fueled sweeping support for provisions in a multi-state initiative to curb transportation pollution and invest in infrastructure overhauls. New MassINC Polling Group research shows about two-thirds of voters back the Transportation and Climate Initiative, an ongoing collaboration between 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia to cap and reduce carbon emissions likely by charging polluters and investing proceeds into low-carbon transportation and more resilient infrastructure."

Regional coalition releases draft plan for emission caps, transportation investmentDelaware Public Media, December 20, 2019. “'Sierra Club Eastern Region Deputy Director Mark Kresowik praises the MOU, but says it needs to go further. He says Delaware as a state can do more as well. 'Doing more to support electric busses; electric vehicles. For instance, joining the zero emissions vehicle memorandum of understanding that many states in the region have,' said Kresowik. 'So that’s one opportunity for Delaware to be more ambitious.' The TCI’s MOU calls for states to invest in programs to help residents transition to affordable, low-carbon transportation options. It seeks to target underserved communities while still providing enough flexibility for market stability. Kresowik says most Delawareans support this initiative."

New York needs to take leadership role in climate initiativeThe Buffalo News (Opinion), December 15, 2019. Elizabeth Hamlin: “New York should take a leading role in helping the region make this critical transition away from fossil-fueled transportation toward zero-emission vehicle technologies and alternatives to automobile dependence. The approach being considered by the TCI states is a 'cap-and-invest' program, similar to a Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states regional policy that is already cutting pollution in the power sector, boosting state investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency, lowering utility bills, and creating jobs in the region. The combination of effective pollution reduction policies, and the investment opportunities made possible through TCI, offers real opportunities to scale up New York’s leadership on health, climate and equity for our most overburdened communities across the region and beyond." 

Transportation Climate Initiative Draws Opposition from Oil and Gasoline Business GroupsDeSmog Blog, November 23, 2019. “A number of comments were submitted by national and regional oil and gasoline industry trade groups, including the American Petroleum Institute (API) , the Independent Fuel Terminal Operators Association, the Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors Association, and the Petroleum Marketing Group, as well as the Consumer Energy Alliance, a 501(c)4 advocacy group* that shares an office address and multiple personnel with HBW Resources, a PR agency. In Pennsylvania, almost all of the comments expressed opposition to the program, many from small oil and fuel companies using almost identical languageFor example, Steven Ohl of R.F. Ohl Fuel Oil wrote: 'I opposed the proposal because it would unfairly burden consumers and businesses in Pennsylvania who already pay the highest gasoline taxes in the country.' Some of the same language appeared in similar comments from Pennsylvania fuel companies, suggesting probable coordination on some level." 

A regional plan to improve transportation and reduce pollutionGloucester Daily Times (Opinion), November 25, 2019. Chis Dempsey: “In echoes from the RGGI debate, opponents of TCI, some funded by the oil industry, have claimed the initiative will raise gas prices. They were wrong about RGGI, and voters should be skeptical of their claims about TCI. By making our transportation system more efficient, what consumers pay for transportation can and will decline, just as electricity costs have under RGGI. By advancing TCI in partnership with other governors, Charlie Baker is applying his bipartisan, innovative, results-driven governing approach to two of our most pressing challenges — fixing our transportation system and addressing tailpipe emissions that currently are the biggest source of pollution in Massachusetts."


Resources & Announcements

Regional Proposal for Clean Transportation Reaches Milestone (DRAFT MOU), Transportation and Climate Initiative, December 17, 2019. “The bipartisan group of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic jurisdictions that make up the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) today invited public input on a new draft proposal for a regional program to establish a cap on global warming pollution from transportation fuels and invest millions annually to achieve additional benefits through reduced emissions, cleaner transportation, healthier communities, and more resilient infrastructure. The draft 'Memorandum of Understanding' (Draft MOU) released today builds on a program framework made public on October 1, 2019. A final MOU is expected in the Spring of 2020, following additional public input and analysis. At that time each of the 12 TCI states and the District of Columbia will decide whether to sign the final MOU and participate in the regional program, which could be operational by 2022."

Advocates and Experts Urge Strong Action by States After Release of Draft Agreement on Transportation Modernization, Our Transportation Future, December 17, 2019. “'A draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) released today by Northeast states and Washington, D.C. for cleaner regional transportation is an important first step that will require states to uphold the highest possible standard, according to local regional, and national advocates and other experts who held a press call today to outline the implications of the Transportation and Climate Initiative’s draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and related impact modeling. An improved transportation system would mean more clean cars and trucks, reliable mass transit, walkable and bikeable communities, less climate pollution, and investments that connect everyone, including those in underserved and rural areas."

New Polling Confirms Strong Support Across Eastern Region For Transportation Modernization, Our Transportation Future, December 11, 2019. “'New Yorkers agree that improving our transportation system goes hand-in-hand with fighting climate change. An overwhelming majority of New Yorkers support joining TCI to reduce transportation emissions - the state's biggest contributor to climate change - and making investments in mass transit like the MTA.' -- Julie Tighe, president, New York League of Conservation Voters. 'Governor Baker has been leading the multi-state, bipartisan effort known as the Transportation & Climate Initiative. Today’s poll results make clear that Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly support this policy and the modernized infrastructure and cleaner air that it will bring. This program isn’t just popular, it is sound, sensible public policy.' -- Chris Dempsey, director, Transportation for Massachusetts. 'The Transport Hartford Academy is not surprised to see that 69% of Connecticut respondents supported the Transportation & Climate Initiative approach.  In this poll, 76% of residents supported improved transit and 73% supported complete streets that provide safe alternatives to driving.  Connecticut residents are clamoring for a more sustainable transportation system.' -- Anthony Cherolis, coordinator, Transport Hartford, Center for Latino Progress."

The Transportation and Climate Initiative, Explained, UCS Blog, December 17, 2019.  Daniel Gatti: “Transportation pollution impacts all of us, but some communities face a greater burden than others. People who live near ports or congested highways are exposed to high levels of particulate matter pollution that is harmful to human health. A UCS analysis this year found that communities of color in the Northeast are exposed to 66% more pollution from transportation than majority white communities. One valid concern that has been raised about market-based programs like RGGI and TCI is that the cap mechanism can only limit total emissions. It can’t guarantee pollution reduction in any specific community. A cap on transportation emissions is not a sufficient strategy to protect environmental justice populations from transportation pollution. TCI states must consider additional approaches to ensure that pollution reductions occur in heavily impacted communities."

Eastern States Continue to Step Up on Climate, NRDC Blog, December 11, 2019. Bruce Ho:  “In October, the states and D.C. released a draft framework for a regional policy, which would take many lessons from their successes in RGGI while adapting that policy model to the transportation sector and its specific characteristics and challenges. For example, rather than regulating power plants, the TCI policy would require pollution cuts and payments from large industrial suppliers of fossil fuels, like motor gasoline and diesel. And rather than investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy, a TCI policy would provide new funding for a range of transportation improvements, including things like expanded, more accessible, and affordable public transportation; electric buses, trucks, and other clean vehicles; resilient transportation infrastructure; improved pedestrian walkways and crosswalks and safe infrastructure for biking; and transit-accessible affordable housing."

Rural Voters on Eastern Seaboard See Benefits of Regional Transportation Improvements, Says New Polling Data Commissioned by The Nature Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, November 12, 2019. “The polling indicates that support among rural and small-town voters for the proposal is broad-based and widespread, encompassing men and women, white voters and voters of color, democrats, independents and republicans, and both young and old voters. Rural and small-town voters are considered critical to making any proposal of this nature politically viable. Transportation is an area in which rural areas and small towns are often neglected, and the poll revealed residents feel that keenly. Eighty three percent of rural and small-town voters say that they 'have no choice but to drive as much as they do' and eighty-one percent say rural and small town areas often do not get their fair share of transportation funding."

An Equity Toolkit for the Transportation and Climate Initiative, Green For All (Toolkit), December 11, 2019.  “Our policy recommendations are aligned with the Policy Design Principles for an Equitable Clean Transportation Program, which were delivered to the Transportation and Climate Initiative on July 26, 2019. The principles were co-developed by national environmental equity groups and community-based organizations with input from over a dozen racial justice, economic justice, environmental justice, and transit justice organizations. This toolkit builds upon those principles to provide detailed policy recommendations and resources for developing a regional cap-and-invest policy."

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