PROVIDENCE— Today, Rhode Island senators voted to pass S0872, 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 the neighboring states of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, as well as the District of Columbia, which aims 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 the Rhode Island Senate for advancing this critical legislation. Rhode Island has been at the forefront of the regional and 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 Rhode Islanders,” said Hank Webster, Acadia Center’s Rhode Island Director. “The Rhode Island House of Representatives now has the opportunity—and responsibility—to advance the companion bill, H6310, which will ensure that Rhode Island communities receive the investment, new jobs, and cleaner air they deserve.”
Transportation is Rhode Island’s largest source of air pollution, creating nearly 40% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the state. 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.
Legislators in Connecticut and Massachusetts also have the opportunity to pass legislation that will guide the equitable implementation of TCI-P in their states. Legislators in Connecticut will have another chance to pass Governor Lamont’s TCI-P implementation bill through a fall special session of the Connecticut legislature. In Massachusetts, where Governor Baker already has the authority to implement TCI-P, S.2138/H.3264 would direct at least 70% of TCI-P proceeds to overburdened and underserved communities throughout the Commonwealth.
“By passing legislation to guide the equitable implementation of TCI-P, legislators in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts have the opportunity to deliver climate action at a major scale while delivering policy solutions designed to meet local community needs,” 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.”
Hank Webster, Rhode Island Director & Staff Attorney
Jordan Stutt, Carbon Programs Director
Acadia Center is a regionally focused non-profit organization headquartered in Rockport, Maine, working to advance a clean energy future that benefits all.