OTF Voices

Sherri Evans-Stanton, "Vehicles are polluting Delaware, but we can do something about it"

Delaware News Journal

Let’s face it: The ways we move people and goods in Delaware are outdated, damaging to public health, congested, under-funded and destructive to our climate.

Transportation now accounts for approximately 40% of carbon pollution in the region — and let’s be clear that air pollution knows no state boundaries. This is why it is critical that Governor Carney has joined with other states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI).

RGGI, which addresses the electricity generation sector, has resulted in more than $125 million for Delaware and more than $3 billion for the region in new funding for renewables and energy efficiency.

The new TCI program, modeled after the success of RGGI, targets transportation. It’s designed to limit pollution from motor fuels while creating new funds for clean transportation investments.

Transportation is essential to commerce, tourism, and economic development, but traffic congestion and tailpipe emissions negatively impact  our quality of life and the air we breathe.

We can make significant improvements in this situation with existing technologies.But we need effective incentives to implement these solutions on a broad scale and quickly. 

Proceeds from RGGI have saved Delawareans $5 million dollars in energy bills, and avoided releasing 26,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, according the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. In terms of its impact on air pollution, in the last round of funding, RGGI projects eliminated more than 26,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is equivalent to taking 5,000 cars off the road or equal to the emissions from powering 3,000 homes for one year.

TCI is popular and supported by a majority of voters on both sides of the aisle.  A recent survey from the Sierra Club shows strong support for curbing air pollution from transportation, and relieving snarled traffic, with modern, efficient, and visionary solutions that ensure people and products can get where they need to go.

In Delaware, the poll found that 74% of voters support state action to clean-up transportation pollution, which aligns with voters across the northeast region who support reducing air pollution from cars and trucks by investing in a modern, regional transportation system that features electric vehicles (EVs), efficient public transportation networks, and safer communities for walking and biking. This includes majorities of Democrats (81%), independents (69%), and Republicans (67%), all in agreement on this core issue.

We commend Governor Carney for enthusiastically supporting the development of a regional clean transportation plan. It’s a prudent policy decision that will dedicate funding for projects to improve transportation for communities overburdened by pollution and underserved by our current system.

TCI is not a tax. It is a policy known as “cap-and-invest” to clean up and modernize transportation.  

The policy would establish a total regional limit, or cap, on the amount of pollution from vehicle fuels, and this cap would decline over time, reducing more and more tailpipe pollution and making communities healthier.

To enforce the cap, major fuel suppliers would be required to buy carbon allowances in proportion to the pollution from the fuels they sell. These allowances would be sold at auction up to the cap level.  

As the cap ratchets down, suppliers would have to reduce their pollution, switching to cleaner alternatives. Auction revenues would be invested in programs to accelerate the transition to cleaner, more efficient, and more affordable transportation options.

Using investments from a cap-and-invest plan to build modern infrastructure like electric vehicle charging stations and to incentivize EV sales is precisely what we need. As the growing number of EV owners in Delaware recognize, the long-term costs of driving an EV are significantly lower than for gas or diesel-powered vehicles, thanks to cheaper fueling and maintenance costs.

Battery prices are falling dramatically, enabling the driving range of EVs to expand. With a more robust charging network, EVs are quickly becoming practical for everyday use by the vast majority of Delaware drivers.

A broad-based coalition of transportation policy experts, scientists, environmentalists and business leaders support TCI. The Sierra Club has partnered with hundreds of groups in the mid-Atlantic and northeast states, as part of Our Transportation Future coalition, to urge governors and lawmakers to support stronger clean transportation policies. 

Why? Because investments from TCI will help transform our broken transportation system into a world-class network that offers Delaware modern, clean transportation options for everyone, improve our quality of life, clean up the air, and better serve our neighborhoods and communities.

Your Delaware Sierra Club chapter applauds Governor Carney’s commitment to combat climate change through Delaware’s collaboration with other TCI states on the development of a regional low-carbon transportation policy by 2020.

We look forward to participating in the decision making process to evaluate how to move forward on this key initiative.

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