PROVIDENCE—Last week, Rhode Island legislators introduced S0872 and H6310, the Transportation Emissions and Mobile (TEAM) Community Act, to implement the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program (TCI-P) in Rhode Island. TCI-P is a bipartisan agreement between neighboring states Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, as well as the District of Columbia to cut transportation pollution by 26% between 2022-2032. The program is expected to generate approximately $250 million over 10 years for Rhode Island to invest in equitable, less polluting transportation options—investments that will create local jobs and deliver public health benefits of approximately $100 million annually.
“Acadia Center thanks Representative Terri Cortvriend, Senator Alana DiMario, and their colleagues in the General Assembly for introducing the TEAM Community Act to implement the TCI Program. Rhode Island has been at the forefront of the regional, bipartisan negotiations to develop the TCI Program for years and this legislation enshrines important commitments to improve public health, combat the Climate Crisis, center environmental justice voices in transportation decisions, and provide better mobility options for all,” said Hank Webster, Acadia Center’s Rhode Island Director. “This bill is a logical next step to implement the Act on Climate bill signed into law last month, which mandates greenhouse gas emission reductions over the next 30 years.”
Transportation is Rhode Island’s largest source of air pollution—representing nearly 40% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Harmful tailpipe pollutants like nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter disproportionately impact the health of densely populated neighborhoods where major roadways, highways, and ports have been located. In Rhode Island, as in other states, the communities overburdened by air pollution are predominately Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color which have historically lacked representation and decision-making power in transportation planning. The TEAM Community Act and TCI-P will take an important first step to address these systemic injustices by establishing an Equity Advisory Board composed of the state’s Health Equity Zones and members of overburdened and underserved communities. The TEAM Community Act also commits a minimum of 35% of TCI-P proceeds for targeted investments that reduce pollution in local communities most impacted by transportation pollution.
“These commitments represent significant progress, but RI has much more work to do to develop stakeholder processes and policy solutions that meet the needs of the community,” said Jordan Stutt, Acadia Center’s Carbon Programs Director. “While an equitably-designed TCI program should benefit overburdened and underserved communities, TCI-P is just one tool in the toolbox; other actions will still be necessary to deliver transportation justice. We know through polling and past ballot initiatives that Rhode Islanders overwhelmingly support investments in clean transportation and we need to make sure all communities enjoy the benefits of better, healthier mobility options.”
Acadia Center also announced a new educational website as a free resource to the public to demonstrate the TCI-P opportunity for Rhode Island. The website, www.TCI4RI.com is a “one stop shop” of links to studies and media entries that explain the program’s design and showcase the many benefits of the TCI-P regional cap-and-invest program. It will be updated regularly with the latest information about TCI-P and feature transportation stories from around the Ocean State.
“It’s important to recognize the tremendous potential for TCI-P to really transform Rhode Island’s transportation systems for the better,” said Webster. “Acadia Center developed this website as one tool to help Rhode Islanders envision a future where people have better transportation options—healthier, convenient, more efficient, and above all, less polluting. We’re thankful for the efforts of our many partners to help develop this clearinghouse of information.”
Acadia Center is a regionally focused non-profit organization headquartered in Rockport, Maine, working to advance a clean energy future that benefits all.
Hank Webster, Rhode Island Director & Staff Attorney
Jordan Stutt, Carbon Programs Director