“Usually, the bigger the problem, the more attention you need to pay to get to solutions,” said Jeff Marks, Maine director at the Acadia Center, a regional group working on climate change issues. “And transportation is it.”
Acadia Center supports the Transportation and Climate Initiative, a collaboration of states from Maine to Virginia working to reduce carbon emissions on the road. But part of that effort envisions raising money through a surcharge on gasoline and diesel fuel, with some of it going to EV rebates and new charging stations. That’s a non-starter for opponents such as the Maine Heritage Policy Center, which said the tax would hurt low-income residents.
Read the full article from Portland Press Herald here.
The renewable-energy advocacy group Acadia Center noted that the fee on power-plant emissions under the RGGI program has been the single-biggest tool for reducing Rhode Island’s carbon emissions. RGGI states also have had stronger economic growth than non-RGGI states.
The bill is supported by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, Citizens Climate Lobby, Sierra Club Rhode Island Chapter, Environment Council of Rhode Island, People’s Power & Light and Save The Bay. Washington, D.C., conservative think tank R Street Institute supports a carbon tax but wants all of the tax revenue returned to the public and not used for renewable-energy projects.
The proliferation of bills comes on the heels of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement last June. Following the announcement, many states and municipalities independently pledged to adhere to the agreement’s goals. “The current administration has no interest in advancing carbon policy,” says Jordan Stutt, a policy analyst at Acadia Center, a clean energy advocacy group. “State legislators are realizing they have the opportunity to craft carbon policy.”
A new Massachusetts Legislature is in session. Acadia Center is ready and focused on a slate of policy initiatives developed to propel the state’s transition to a broadly electrified energy system that is low-carbon, efficient, and consumer-friendly. Massachusetts has made great strides to embrace an energy future that offers lower costs, greater consumer control and significant progress toward state and regional greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goals. Now it is time to pick up the pace. With advocacy action, stakeholder collaboration and in-depth economic and emissions analysis, Acadia Center is working to ensure success of these proposals, adopt forward-looking policies, uproot outdated technologies and apply new ways of thinking about energy options. Acadia Center calls for action to accomplish the following:
Accelerate Clean Energy Uptake: Ensure clean energy supply, reduce over-reliance on natural gas, and drive regional economic development by supporting proposals that use clean, distributed indigenous energy resources; enable utilities to pursue large-scale competitive procurement of renewable generation; lock in a state target to deploy 1600 megawatts of solar energy by 2020 with a “Value of Solar” utility rate structure; increase the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard growth rate to attain 20% renewable energy supply by 2020 and 80% by 2050; direct the Department of Public Utilities to promote energy storage technologies.
Advance Electric Vehicles (EVs): With the current mix of energy generation, an EV produces less than half the GHG emissions of a comparable gasoline car. And, EVs provide cost savings for consumers — only 6 cents per mile to drive at current electricity prices — while boosting the regional economy, supporting energy independence, and improving public health. Acadia Center is working with partner organizations and policy leaders to remove barriers to EV adoption: provide incentives, develop a utility framework to increase EV adoptions, build-out charging infrastructure, increase consumer and business education about EVs, and adopt targets for state fleet EV purchases.
Price Carbon Emissions: Markets react quickly and cost-effectively to price signals. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) drove deep reductions in emissions for the power sector more quickly than expected and the economies of participating states grew faster than the rest of the country. Acadia Center is advocating that carbon pricing in Massachusetts should include fossil fuel importers and large emitters (other than power plants currently covered by RGGI) and return revenue to businesses/consumers through refunds or energy efficiency investments.
Acadia Center is engaged now with state leaders and representatives from consumer, labor, business, and other stakeholder groups to advance these priorities through state processes, legislative proposals and policy analysis.