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Amid coronavirus pandemic, air pollution declines in Boston and elsewhere

“We were expecting action on TCI soon, but at this point, given that governors’ attention is elsewhere, I think we’re unlikely to have an announcement this spring,” said Jordan Stutt, carbon programs director for the Acadia Center, an environmental advocacy group in Boston.

Stutt remained optimistic that states will ultimately look to TCI with a “renewed sense of urgency,” as the program could serve as a source of much-needed revenue and jobs to a region with surging unemployment claims and depleted financial reserves.

“It’s a public health program and an economic stimulus program wrapped in one,” he said. “The billions of dollars generated could be invested in infrastructure programs and high quality jobs.”

Read the full article from the Boston Globe here.

The Northeast’s New Year’s Resolution – Get Serious about Climate Change

January is a great time to start fresh. Whether it’s signing up for a new gym membership or cutting back on social media, the New Year is an opportunity to envision a better future and eliminate bad habits. And the Northeast has one that can’t be ignored for another year: an ongoing, dangerous reliance on fossil fuels. In 2020, Acadia Center’s resolution is to help the region break up with dirty energy.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) served up a harsh reality check: the world has until just 2030 to act to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. In the Northeast, we risk severe storms, declining public health, the destruction of our scenic coastline, and upheaval in important regional industries like farming, fishing, and tourism. Fossil fuels are like smoking: hard to quit, but unmistakably bad for you. The IPCC report makes it abundantly clear that it’s time to quit.

Acadia Center is committed to Making the Next Decade Count—using the next ten years to advance ambitious climate policy that will transition the region to a stronger, cleaner, more just energy economy. The good news is that states around the region have set unambiguous climate pollution reduction goals, and there are policies and programs available to meet them. These solutions can also improve public health and strengthen the economy for the future by keeping our dollars in the region instead of flowing to other states and countries. Even better, if designed conscientiously, these policies and programs can also address the financial and health disparities between our communities that the fossil fuel economy has exacerbated.

Acadia Center recommends that each Northeast state embrace these three bold but achievable actions in 2020 to make real progress on its climate pollution reduction goals:

1. Require that state agencies assess the long-term climate impact of their decisions. Empowering state agencies to act in ways that support state climate goals will unify the agencies that regulate utilities, transportation, buildings, and more in addressing the defining challenge of our time. For example, public utilities commissions might begin to reject fossil fuel energy projects in favor of clean energy options like solar and wind. New York has taken steps to do this in its 2019 Climate Change and Protection Act, and other states should follow their lead, with specific and immediate deadlines for action.

2. Phase out fossil fuels, including gas. Natural gas is a fossil fuel. It consists primarily of methane, a greenhouse gas at least twelve times more potent than carbon dioxide. It leaks out of poorly maintained pipeline networks, creating safety hazards and more emissions. It releases carbon dioxide and other harmful gases when burned. And as this region knows all too well, it can explode—with dire consequences. Fortunately, the Northeast has economically beneficial alternatives that can replace fossil fuels now, including efficient electric heating systems and real potential for a significant amount of offshore wind energy. The region must immediately halt the expansion of gas infrastructure—including power plants and pipelines—that consumers will be paying for decades from now and start embracing better alternatives.

3. Implement the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI). The transportation sector is our region’s largest single source of emissions. This regional policy will reduce transportation emissions while raising revenue for states to invest in cleaner, more equitable transportation solutions, such as public transit, walking and bicycling, and vehicle electrification. TCI is the most effective way to address the climate impacts, health repercussions, and horrendous traffic congestion of our transportation system. It should be designed to provide real alternatives for those most adversely impacted by our past transportation decisions: communities of color, lower-income communities, and rural communities.

Now is the time for states to move forward on these bold solutions. Like any transformational goal, the path to success will require discipline and persistence. But as the IPCC report makes clear, the Northeast must lead the way toward a cleaner, healthier, more just, and more vibrant economy. Acadia Center will be working to make this future a reality. Will you join us?

by Matt Rusteika and Arah Schuur

Maine: Transportation and Energy Reforms Would Bring $4 Billion in Economic Benefits and 13,500 New Jobs

New Analysis Released to Incoming Maine Administration

ROCKPORT, ME – Today, Acadia Center released new analysis showing the impact a shift toward better transportation infrastructure and cleaner energy would have in improving Connecticut’s economic and environmental future. Acadia Center’s “Memo to the Next Governor of Maine” recommends concrete steps that will deliver significant economic, consumer and public health benefits to the state. The analysis shows that modernizing the state’s transportation system alone could produce over $3.8 billion in new economic benefits, add 8,700 new jobs, and create $2.3 billion in public health and other benefits. All told, Acadia Center’s analysis indicates that the state could generate $6.5 billion dollars in consumer and economic benefits and create about 13,500 new jobs in the process.

“Maine must update and improve its energy and transportation systems, and doing so presents a significant opportunity to strengthen its economic future,” said Daniel Sosland, president of Acadia Center. “This analysis recommends five transportation and energy reforms that will have the most direct impact on Maine’s economy while enhancing quality of life for Maine people and communities. The time is now for Maine’s leaders to act to bring these benefits to residents.”

The memo calls on the new administration to undertake five reforms to achieve these goals and benefits:

1. Modernize transportation infrastructure to improve safety, access, and convenience;
2. Transition power generation to cheaper, cleaner, and more resilient local sources;
3. Improve energy performance in buildings to reduce costly energy use and emissions;
4. Reform energy grid rules to reduce high energy costs and speed energy innovation;
5. Give communities and consumers more control over their energy choices.

“Maine has many immediate needs that must be met to put the state on a path to success in the years to come,” said Kathleen Meil, Acadia Center’s policy advocate in Maine. “This new analysis shows how smart it is to tackle these challenges through the lens of a broader strategy to revitalize key infrastructure and avoid climate pollution.”

“Governor-elect Mills has indicated that advancing the clean energy future and enhancing community resilience are top priorities, and Acadia Center’s recommended reforms lay out a roadmap that promises concrete benefits for all Mainers. These key steps will fix roads and bridges, move the state away from its dependence on oil and gas, and increase accessibility of jobs and services-all while reducing emissions, increasing energy independence, and boosting local industries,” said Meil.

The full memo is available here.


Media Contacts:

Kathleen Meil, Policy Advocate
kmeil@acadiacenter.org, 207-236-6470 ext. 304

Krysia Wazny McClain, Communications Director
kwazny@acadiacenter.org, 617.742.0054 ext. 107

Connecticut: Transportation and Energy Reforms Could Bring $11 Billion in Economic Benefits and 33,000 New Jobs

New Analysis Released to Incoming Connecticut Administration

HARTFORD, CT – Today, Acadia Center released new analysis showing the impact a shift toward better transportation infrastructure and cleaner energy would have in improving Connecticut’s economic and environmental future. Acadia Center’s “Memo to the Next Governor of Connecticut” recommends concrete steps that will deliver significant economic, consumer and public health benefits to the state. The analysis shows that modernizing the state’s transportation system alone could produce over $6.9 billion in new economic benefits, add 14,900 new jobs, and create $3.7 billion in public health and other benefits. All told, Acadia Center’s analysis indicates that the state could add about $11 billion in new economic benefits and create about 33,000 new jobs through five transportation and energy reforms.

“Making Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure and its energy system work better for all state residents and businesses is smart economic strategy,” said Daniel Sosland, Acadia Center’s President. “This analysis focuses on five transportation and energy reforms that will have the most direct impact on Connecticut’s economy while also enhancing quality of life for its people and communities. The recommended reforms are achievable, the benefits are concrete, and the time is now to build a stronger Connecticut.”

The memo calls on the new administration to undertake five reforms to achieve these goals and benefits:

1. Modernize transportation infrastructure to improve safety, access, and convenience;
2. Transition power generation to cheaper, cleaner, and more resilient local sources;
3. Improve energy performance in buildings to reduce costly energy use and emissions;
4. Reform energy grid rules to reduce high energy costs and speed energy innovation;
5. Give communities and consumers more control over their energy choices.

“This new analysis underscores how important it is to remake Connecticut’s transportation and energy systems as a core part of the state’s new economic strategy,” said Amy McLean Salls, Acadia Center’s Connecticut Director. “Newly-unleashed investments and innovation will drive economic progress, improve quality of life, and extend benefits to communities and residents who have historically been overlooked.”

“The five recommended reforms complement Governor-Elect Lamont’s plans to create new economic growth and jobs in the state. These reforms will help make that vision of a more prosperous and livable Connecticut a reality,” said McLean Salls.

The full memo is available here.


Media Contacts:

Amy McLean Salls, Connecticut Director & Senior Policy Advocate
amcleansalls@acadiacenter.org, 860-246-7121 ext. 204

Krysia Wazny McClain, Communications Director
kwazny@acadiacenter.org, 617.742.0054 ext. 107