Eastern States Introduce a Plan to Cap Tailpipe Pollution

“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.”

Read the full article from The New York Times here.

Maine undecided on joining regional plan to reduce vehicle pollution

The transportation program is based on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a 2009 agreement to cap and trade power plant carbon emissions in nine Northeast states including Maine. Since its inception, CO2 emissions from power plants fell 47 percent, according to an analysis by the Acadia Center, a clean energy research group.

Read the full article from Central Maine here.

Park City Wind

Bridgeport looks to become a hub for offshore wind in Connecticut, with its Park City Wind project expected to deliver 14% of the state’s electricity supply. That is, if the offshore wind farm can get federal approval. Our guests:

Listen to the episode from The Full Story here.

Climate change is no longer a future threat: it’s a crisis today | Opinion

RGGI has been in effect since 2008, and a recent review by the Acadia Center of the program’s first 10 years found that:

  • CO2 emissions from RGGI-covered power plants have fallen by 47 percent outpacing the rest of the country by 90 percent, while reductions in other air pollutants from these plants have resulted in over $5.7 billion in health and productivity benefits
  • Electricity prices in RGGI states have fallen by 5.7 percent, while prices have increased in the rest of the country by 8.6 percent
  • The combined economies of the RGGI states have grown by 47 percent, outpacing growth in the rest of the country by 31 percent
  • RGGI states have generated $3.2 billion in allowance auction proceeds, the majority of which have been invested in energy efficiency and renewable energy programs

Read the full article from Penn Live here.

2/3 Voters: Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Firms Should Pay For Pollution

“The poll shows that people across the region want proactive leadership to address our transportation and climate challenges. We need bold solutions to make the shift to a clean transportation future, and an ambitious TCI program can jumpstart that transition.” — Jordan Stutt, carbon programs director, Acadia Center.

Read the full article from ValueWalk here.

Acadia Center Applauds Regional Coordination to Reduce Tailpipe Pollution, Urges Ambitious, Equitable Action

TCI Announcement Demonstrates Benefits of Transition to Clean Transportation, Highlights Need for Strong Program

BOSTON — Today, 12 states and the District of Columbia announced the details of a new, regional program to cut tailpipe pollution while delivering much needed investment in clean, equitable, modern transportation options. Working together through the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), these jurisdictions[1] have developed a multi-state cap-and-invest program to address rising transportation emissions and the need for greater investment in a clean transportation future.

Launching this program will be a major accomplishment at a substantial scale: the TCI region, were it a single country, would represent the world’s third largest economy.

“States are leading the way with subnational action on climate,” said Daniel Sosland, Acadia Center’s President. “By working together, this region can achieve globally significant carbon reductions while delivering billions of dollars each year for grants and investments to help every community thrive. From rural towns to the region’s biggest cities, TCI can fund investments to make better transportation options more accessible, affordable, and reliable.”

Along with the policy details in the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the TCI jurisdictions released modeling results demonstrating that regional action to reduce transportation pollution will deliver economic, health, and environmental benefits. Under the most ambitious policy analyzed, the region would see the following impacts in 2032:

  • A 25% reduction in CO2 emissions from vehicles (from 2022 levels);
  • Nearly $7 billion in proceeds for investment in clean, equitable transportation solutions; and
  • $10 billion in health savings from reduced tailpipe pollution in 2032 alone.

The modeling makes it clear that launching a TCI program will be a tremendous step forward if the participating jurisdictions implement an ambitious emissions cap. As the modeling shows, each increasingly more ambitious policy scenario delivers greater health savings and more resources for clean, equitable transportation investment.

Given these findings, the TCI states should establish a cap that declines by at least 25% from 2022 to 2032, if not more. Of the policy scenarios analyzed, the 25% cap comes closest to ensuring the necessary cuts in transportation pollution to meet state economy-wide climate requirements. While the 25% cap would represent progress, the TCI jurisdictions have an opportunity to chart an even bolder path; a more ambitious emissions cap will ensure that participating states meet their climate requirements while delivering greater health savings and enabling more transformational investments. Those investments in public transit, electric vehicles, active mobility, and other clean transportation projects will provide greater access to the clean, affordable, reliable transportation options that this region needs.

The importance of strategic investment has been demonstrated through the region’s experience with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The investment of over $3 billion in RGGI auction proceeds has helped participating states become national leaders on energy efficiency while creating high quality, local jobs. Those RGGI-funded investments have contributed to the fact that electricity prices in the RGGI states have declined since the program launched, while prices have increased in the rest of the country.

Through TCI, states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic can build on RGGI’s success while improving the model. Investments funded by TCI must be dedicated to reducing pollution and delivering a more equitable transportation system, and complementary policies will be essential to the rapid and just transition to a clean transportation future.

“Investment in better transportation options while reducing tailpipe pollution is a winning combination,” said Jordan Stutt, Carbon Programs Director. “Acadia Center applauds the TCI jurisdictions for developing this program, and we call on every participating Governor to ensure that the program is both robust and equitable; the program’s success will be determined by their ambition.”

[1] The TCI jurisdictions are: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Media Contacts

MA and Regional
Jordan Stutt, Carbon Programs Director
jstutt@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x105

Amy McLean Salls, Connecticut Director and Senior Policy Advocate
amcleansalls@acadiacenter.org, 860-246-7121 x204

Rhode Island
Hank Webster, Rhode Island Director and Staff Attorney
hwebster@acadiacenter.org, 401-276-0600 x402

Jeff Marks, Maine Director & Senior Policy Advocate
jmarks@acadiacenter.org, 207-236-6470 x304

Clearing the Path for Clean Heating

With the winter solstice just around the corner, the Northeast’s heating season is in full swing and greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from buildings are at their seasonal high. About 85% of homes in New England and New York rely on fossil fuels for heating, and this consumption accounts for about 30% of total regional GHGs. Fossil fuel use for heating also poses health and safety dangers like carbon monoxide poisoning and risk of explosion. The average home in the Northeast spends $1,000-$2,600 on heating fuel every winter, and because the Northeast imports all of its fossil fuels, this money flows out of local economies and the region is beholden to price fluctuations out of its control.

A clean alternative to fossil fuel heating is efficient, electric heat pumps.

What is a Heat Pump and What Are Its Benefits?

A heat pump is an electric heating and cooling technology for buildings that works by moving heat between the inside and outside of a building. A standard air conditioner is a type of heat pump that extracts heat from inside a building and moves it outside.  A heat pump uses this same cooling process in the summer, and it is able to reverse the process in the winter for heating.

Heat pumps offer many benefits over fossil fuels, including:


  • Pollution reduction and improved health and safety – Full replacement of an existing heating system with heat pumps can reduce greenhouse emissions 60-70%, depending on the fuel being displaced. In MA, HVAC improvements in low income homes led to $265 in annual health and safety savings per household.
  • Winter fuel savings – Fully converting an oil or propane-heated home to heat pumps can save residents between $800-1600 on average.
  • Avoided natural gas infrastructure – Customers can access greater fuel savings and cut pollution more by converting to heat pumps rather than natural gas. Plus, converting homes to heat pumps does not require addition of new gas pipes, which lock in higher greenhouse gas emissions for decades and increase costs for all gas customers because the utility passes on these infrastructure costs.

Clearing the Path for Clean Heating

No state or city can reach its climate and clean energy goals if fossil fuel heating continues. With their significant pollution and consumer benefits, heat pumps deserve to be more widely adopted in the Northeast. Acadia Center supports 7 key solutions to overcoming barriers to heat pump adoption:

  • Educating consumers and vendors
  • Coupling heat pumps with home efficiency
  • Installing only clean electric heating in new homes
  • Decreasing operating costs through smart electricity pricing
  • Removing incentives to promote natural gas
  • Aligning retrofit incentives with state policy objectives
  • Establishing state-level thermal decarbonization targets


Acadia Center is in the final stages of developing a report called “Clean Heating Pathways” that identifies  supportive policies across New England and New York to accelerate these 7 solutions and compares state progress to advance clean heating.


by Emily Lewis O’Brien, Director, Climate and Energy Analysis (CLEAN) Center and Matt Rusteika, Senior Policy Analyst

New Polling Confirms Strong Support Across Eastern Region for Transportation Modernization

“The poll shows that people across the region want proactive leadership to address our transportation and climate challenges. We need bold solutions to make the shift to a clean transportation future, and an ambitious TCI program can jumpstart that transition.” — Jordan Stutt, carbon programs director, Acadia Center.

Read the full release from Our Transportation Future here.

Hydropower and Transmission: Updated Position Statement

As Acadia Center has examined the path to a rapid transition away from fossil fuels, it has considered the potential for hydroelectric energy from existing impoundments to replace some of the fossil fuels used in the Northeast’s energy mix. The Northeast is currently heavily reliant on fossil fuels, especially natural gas, for electricity generation. According to multiple studies, when electricity comes from excess generation at existing hydro impoundments, it results in dramatically lower carbon emissions than electricity generated by fossil fuels.[1],[2]

Beyond the question of whether carbon emissions from hydro are lower, Acadia Center has been open to hydropower imports from existing hydro projects, but only if specific critical conditions are met and expectations fulfilled. Because these conditions and expectations have not been met, Acadia Center has not endorsed either the energy contract between Hydro-Quebec and Massachusetts utilities or the NECEC line.

In January 2019, Acadia Center joined a multiparty settlement to impose economic and consumer protection conditions on Central Maine Power (CMP) in the Maine Public Utilities Commission’s (MPUC) proceeding on the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) transmission line.  In that proceeding, Acadia Center joined the settlement for a certificate of public need and necessity (CPCN) for the NECEC line because the settlement would strengthen Maine’s economy, protect consumers, and deliver a clean energy future for the state. However, Acadia Center stated that it would only support the line and the contract between Hydro-Quebec (HQ) and Massachusetts utilities if, and only if, CMP and HQ also:

  • Ensure the project advances state and regional climate goals by verifying the emission reductions expected from the contract over its lifetime; and
  • Thoughtfully and sensitively protect the Western Maine landscape from unacceptable siting impacts. (Acadia Center, New England Clean Energy Connect Transmission Line, Feb. 2019)

Contrary to Acadia Center’s sustained advocacy for transparency and accountability,[3] Massachusetts regulators approved a contract that fails to hold Hydro-Quebec responsible for verifying that electricity deliveries over the NECEC line, if permitted, will continue to produce real, incremental climate benefits over the life of the contract.  Additionally, the Maine DEP siting process is ongoing, and has yet to produce final assurances that the negative siting impacts will be avoided and reduced as much as possible.

Acadia Center will continue to hold CMP, Hydro-Quebec, and the Massachusetts utilities to their carbon-reduction and clean energy commitments should its contracts with Massachusetts proceed, and Acadia Center will heavily weigh the remaining unmet conditions prior to considering its full and unqualified support for NECEC.

Acadia Center aims to ensure that the Northeast region rapidly decarbonizes its energy system in line with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommendations. To that end, Acadia Center works to build a comprehensive zero-carbon energy system by focusing on and prioritizing clean energy solutions, local clean energy resources, deep energy efficiency, utility reform, transportation improvements and innovations, and the phase-out of fossil fuels.[4]  Acadia Center remains committed to ensuring that Maine, Massachusetts, and this region work aggressively to reduce climate pollution to provide a climate safe future for all.

[1] I.B. Ocko and S. P. Hamburg, Climate Impacts of Hydropower: Enormous Difference among Facilities and over Time, Env. Sci & Tech., 2019, available here: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.9b05083

[2] London Economics International LLC, Independent Analysis of Electricity Market and Macroeconomic Benefits of the New England Clean Energy Connect Project, prepared for the Maine Public Utilities Commission, May 21, 2018.

[3] Reply Brief of Acadia Center, DPU 18-64- DPU 18-66, April 3, 2019, available here: https://fileservice.eea.comacloud.net/FileService.Api/file/FileRoom/10562132

[4] EnergyVision 2030.