Cutting Emissions from Transportation

The transportation sector is the second largest source of U.S. GHG emissions, responsible for 28% of emissions nationally, and nearly 40% in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Transportation fuels, notably gasoline and diesel, must be priced in a way that reflects the cost of these emissions, either through a carbon tax or the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which currently regulates power plant emissions.

Acadia Center is working to change policies so they account for the full lifecycle of the greenhouse gas emissions fuels produce. Gasoline refined from tar sands, for example, has very high extraction emissions. Several different policies could address these upstream emissions, such as the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) program in California. The LCFS sets targets for lowering the lifecycle carbon intensity of fuels and allows the market to determine the most cost-effective fuels and strategies for achieving those targets. A good initial step would be to require tracking and reporting by oil importers and wholesalers to allow states to determine how their fuel supplies are changing and what the best policy answer is.


Acadia Center is also advancing solutions to help reduce the upfront cost of electric vehicles (EVs), build out charging infrastructure and educate consumers on the benefits of EVs. It is possible to dramatically increase the adoption of EVs over the next few years.

Electrification of the vehicle fleet is one of the key pathways to cleaning up the transportation sector. Switching from a traditional car burning gasoline to a fully electric vehicle can reduce GHG emissions by 60% in the Northeast. As cleaner sources power the electric grid, these benefits will increase. In addition, vehicles running on electricity don’t emit any of the local pollutants that come from gas engines.

EVs save money, too. Switching from gasoline to electricity can cut per-mile costs significantly and allow consumers to spend more of their hard-earned dollars in local economies. Time-of-use rates will allow EV owners to save even more money by charging at night when the cost of generating electricity is low.

To seize the opportunity of EVs, the top priorities are to explore and address potential impacts on the power grid and maximize the ability of EVs to serve as a grid resource.


  • Electric Vehicles and State Funds

    Policymakers in Massachusetts have directed a study of transportation funding from electric vehicles and whether additional contributions are necessary to offset a loss of revenue from the gasoline tax. Acadia Center’s analysis demonstrates that additional fees are not necessary or fair in the short run, but in the longer term, an energy-equivalent surcharge per kWh of electricity consumed would be a fair way to ensure equitable contributions from all alternative fuels.

  • Grid Modernization and Utility Reform in MA Series

    Massachusetts has fallen behind its neighbors in exploring and enacting policies that will help the Commonwealth keep pace with clean energy technologies that offer enormous promise to make the electricity grid more responsive to consumers, improve economic competitiveness, and produce substantial reductions in climate pollution. Acadia Center comments on this trend in a three-part opinion series for CommonWealth Magazine. Part One of the series reviews the recent history of grid modernization and utility reform in Massachusetts, its uncertain future, and the need for legislative reforms and oversight. Part Two describes how the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) decision on revenue, return on equity, and utility business model reform fails to benefit consumers and ultimately approves approximately $460 million in additional ratepayer costs. Part Three discusses the DPU decision issued on January 5, 2018, covering rate design.

  • Eversource Rate Case in MA

    Just over a year ago, on January 17, 2017, Eversource filed a comprehensive electric rate case in Massachusetts, requesting significant revenue increases, new rate structures, and an array of investments. On November 30, 2017 and January 5, 2018, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities issued its Orders in the case approving nearly all Eversource’s requests. This document describes Acadia Center’s principles for reform and key components of the recent Orders on Eversource’s rate case proposals, followed by next steps and further recommended reforms.

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