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New Polling Confirms Strong Support Across Eastern Region for Transportation Modernization

“The poll shows that people across the region want proactive leadership to address our transportation and climate challenges. We need bold solutions to make the shift to a clean transportation future, and an ambitious TCI program can jumpstart that transition.” — Jordan Stutt, carbon programs director, Acadia Center.

Read the full release from Our Transportation Future here.

Make the Next Decade Count

Last month, young people around the world marched to demand action from decision makers. They echoed what thousands of the world’s climate scientists have concluded: only a short period of time remains — 10 years, from now until 2030 — for the world to reduce climate pollution by at least 45% from 2010 levels and shift to clean energy systems so the globe can avoid the worst impacts of a warming planet. For twenty years, Acadia Center has been accelerating strong state, local, and regional action to address climate pollution. Now, it will draw from its strengths in analysis, thought leadership, relationship building, and informed advocacy to meet these urgent climate deadlines and implement a refined strategy it calls Make the Next Decade Count TM.

Make the Next Decade Count seeks to bring greater attention to the need for policy action on climate and address the biggest challenges and opportunities to transition to a clean energy future as quickly as possible. Working together, Northeast states can take bold, effective, and broad-reaching action now to aggressively phase out fossil fuels and expand clean energy to achieve necessary reductions in climate pollution by 2030. Done right, these actions will grow the region’s economy, create jobs, enhance public health, improve the quality of housing, and increase access to transportation. Acadia Center will:

Acadia Center believes this region can set an example and benefit all of its residents beginning with the big picture in four related areas:  

Accelerate Comprehensive Climate Planning

To provide a roadmap for climate action, Acadia Center has for years developed analyses and reports that offer recommendations at the state, community, and regional levels. Its EnergyVision 2030 analysis is the latest example of a comprehensive framework designed to shape an achievable vision for the future. With the urgency of climate science in mind, Acadia Center will expand and accelerate state and regional action according to EnergyVision 2030, new analyses, and external resources to achieve deep reductions in emissions. It will influence and participate in a robust approach to regional climate planning, supporting processes that effectively prioritize input from many stakeholders to shape climate policies. And it will require that climate goals are accounted for in the laws and regulations used by states, cities, and regional authorities to make public utility rulings, energy siting and land use decisions, transportation plans and investments, energy choices, and other plans that will otherwise continue to be barriers to a rapid transition to clean energy.

Reduce Emissions from the Largest Sources 

85% of climate pollution in the Northeast stems from three sectors: transportation, buildings, and power generation. Acadia Center will accelerate progress in all three.

Invest in a Cleaner, Modern Transportation System

The Northeast’s transportation system is its largest source of climate pollution, contributing about 40% of total climate emissions in the region while burdening public health and our pocketbooks. Power sector emissions have declined sharply in recent years, but transportation emissions have been level or growing. The region’s economy and health are suffering because its mass transit system is outdated and underfunded and transportation options in rural communities and many lower income neighborhoods are limited or non-existent. To address these interconnected challenges, the region needs a coordinated campaign that brings together all affected stakeholders. Acadia Center has played a leadership role in launching and advancing efforts to implement a regional cap-and-invest program for the transportation sector, the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI). This program — if designed properly — can significantly reduce CO2 and co-pollutants while generating funds to invest in an equitable, modern, low-carbon transportation future. Acadia Center analysis shows that the economic potential for this policy is immense  — in Massachusetts alone this policy could generate $5.5 billion in new funds to invest in modernizing the transportation infrastructure, creating 52,000 long-term jobs.

Improve the Quality of Buildings

Building heating, cooling, lighting, and operations are responsible for over a third of total emissions in the Northeast. Acadia Center is advancing policies that will reduce these emissions by supporting the transition to all-electric buildings, focused on clean electric heating and expansion of energy efficiency. Acadia Center will break down barriers to accelerating the transition from fossil fuel heating by working to expand markets for clean electric heat pumps. If all the homes currently burning oil in the Northeast switched to clean electric heat today, CO2 emissions would be reduced by about 19 million metric tons annually — equivalent to taking about 4.1 million cars off the road for a year. And Acadia Center will advocate for expanded investments in energy efficiency and building weatherization. Since 2010, energy efficiency has avoided 87 million metric tons of carbon pollution while bringing consumers $35.7 billion in economic benefits — as programs expand, these numbers will only grow.

Accelerate the Shift to Clean Power Generation

The Northeast’s power sector has been getting cleaner. In the last decade, the region has reduced emissions through policies that increase renewable energy supply and through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the country’s first multi-state cap-and-invest program, which limits carbon emissions from power plants and reinvests revenue from pollution allowances in clean energy improvements. Many states across the Northeast have committed to large-scale clean energy, particularly offshore wind, and expanded community based clean energy resources like solar. Acadia Center will work to advance clean, no- and low-carbon power generation options like offshore wind.

Outdated regulatory barriers stand in the way of growth in clean energy. Thanks to new technologies, the Northeast can have a power grid that is clean, flexible, and consumer-centered. Unfortunately, many state and regional policies sustain utility and energy investment models that fail to treat clean energy options fairly — particularly building and community-scale energy options. As a result, they cannot expand at the speed and scale necessary to slow climate change, and so these policies act to advance fossil fuels like natural gas. Acadia Center will build awareness about how outdated policies hamper the region’s ability to adopt clean energy, meet climate goals, and realize the best value for consumers. Acadia Center will develop and advocate for utility reform that invests in a modern, flexible grid and reforms utility finances and planning. While many government bodies have the power to make decisions critical to addressing climate change, state public utility commissions and federal regulators have an especially significant say in how and whether clean energy can advance. Acadia Center will work to remove entrenched power market barriers, design policies that capture and meet community needs, set smart principles for siting new projects and align regulatory agencies so they consider climate impacts alongside short-term rates and bills.

Phase Out Fossil Fuels and Make the Case Against Natural Gas Expansion

The Northeast is heavily reliant on fossil fuels for energy production, heating, and transportation and will continue to be if it remains committed to the false promise of natural gas and outdated rules and regulations that prefer fossil fuels. Renewable power generation, transportation powered by electricity, and clean electric space and water heating and cooking appliances can rapidly curb dependence on natural gas and other fossil fuels. But well-funded fossil fuel interests proliferate claims that the region needs more natural gas to maintain its current quality of life.

Acadia Center will make it clear through analytic materials that natural gas is not a bridge fuel—it is a fossil fuel — showing decisionmakers and the public that relying on natural gas will defeat climate goals. Acadia Center will offer ambitious but realistic solutions to replace natural gas with clean energy. It will counter misinformation from sources that profit from fossil fuels, seek to shift those business models, and work to ensure that people across the region have full access to clean energy options and the quality of life, economic, health, and climate benefits that they bring.

Shift the Public Discourse to Embrace Solutions that Make a Difference

Climate progress requires a widespread preference for a clean energy economy over a fossil fuel future. Today, fossil fuel proponents have an outsized impact on the region’s energy narrative. That can change. Data and policy analysis can illustrate a path forward that empowers the Northeast to meet its energy needs and stop depending on fossil fuels. To build popular support, Acadia Center engages audiences through targeted research, innovative communications, partnerships, and coalitions. It demonstrates the benefits of clean energy for consumers and the climate in order to shift public narratives and build enthusiasm for an economy that relies on clean energy. Its Climate and Energy Analysis (CLEAN) Center produces thought-leading materials that connect clean energy and climate progress with issues of concern to the public and their daily lives. Together the CLEAN Center and Acadia Center’s Public Engagement work will help people throughout the region envision a clean energy economy as a viable and preferable path forward.

***

Acadia Center is dedicated to advancing the clean energy future to benefit all. The clean energy future can  strengthen the region’s economies, improve quality of life for all residents, and protect us from climate change. Acadia Center is excited to redouble its efforts and work with many partners to Make the Next Decade CountTM.

 


Announcing New Staff

Jeff Marks, Senior Policy Advocate & Maine Director

Jeff joins Acadia Center on October 23, 2019 as Senior Policy Advocate and Maine Director. Before joining Acadia Center, Jeff served as Executive Director of E2Tech, a business trade association of Maine’s energy and environmental companies. Jeff was Deputy Director of the Maine Energy Office where he advised two Governors, Legislature, and State agencies on energy, environmental, and economic policy. Read Jeff’s full bio here.

Camille McDaniel, Public Engagement & Communications Associate

Camille McDaniel is Acadia Center’s Public Engagement and Communications Associate. Camille coordinates storytelling initiatives across digital media to raise awareness of Acadia Center’s work and develops compelling and original content for social media and web publication while supporting other Public Engagement tasks. Camille comes to Acadia Center with a broad background in communications, having worked in the non-profit, sports, and advertising industries. Previously, Camille served as the Community Outreach Coordinator at All In Energy. Read Camille’s full bio here.

 


Acadia Center News & Events

Renewable Energy Vermont Conference & Expo

October 10-11, 2019 Burlington, VT  www.revconference.org

Emily Lewis, CLEAN Center Director, led a panel entitled Renewable Building Heating: Pathways for Home & Business Savings

Jordan Stutt, Carbon Programs Director, led a panel entitled Improving Transportation Choices: The Transportation & Climate Initiative

ACEEE 2019 National Conference on Energy Efficiency as a Resource

October 15, 2019 Minneapolis, MN 

Erika Niedowski spoke on a panel at ACEEE’s 2019 National Conference on Energy Efficiency as a Resource, being held in Minneapolis this month (Oct. 15-17). Her presentation, “Allies in the Climate Fight: The Interplay Between Energy Efficiency and Beneficial Electrification,” included Acadia Center analysis on the benefits of and barriers to switching from polluting fossil fuels to clean heating in the Northeast. It also showed how existing state energy efficiency programs are well-positioned to help customers access the benefits of high efficiency electric heat pumps.

CT’s Transportation Future, Confronting Climate Crisis

October 29, 2019  4pm-7:30pm Capital Community College, Hartford https://www.facebook.com/events/515419355910029/

Join Acadia Center, Transport Hartford Academy, partners, and stakeholders for a networking dinner and community meeting to learn more about critical efforts to deliver a more equitable, modern, low-carbon transportation future. Come share your thoughts to reach state leaders and help shape the policy’s future.

Acadia Center in the News

Boston GlobeCoalition of states unveil plan to curb transportation emissions 

Utility Dive: Connecticut governor calls for 100% carbon-free power by 2040 

Energy News Network: Cap and trade for transportation must consider environmental justice, advocates say 

Pennlive.com: Gov. Wolf aims to raise Pa.’s profile in climate change fight by joining multi-state carbon tax program

 

A New Approach to Transportation in Connecticut Could Cut Pollution, Boost the Economy and Deliver 23,000 Jobs

HARTFORD, Conn. – Today, Acadia Center released an analysis illustrating the benefits of a new approach for Connecticut to reduce transportation pollution while improving the system to better meet its residents’ needs. The analysis shows that, if designed well, a regional cap-and-invest policy developed through the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) could enable the state to make over $2.7 billion in crucial transportation investments by 2030, which would generate over 23,000 long-term jobs and $7 billion in economic activity.

“Connecticut can be a leader in developing a bold, equitable program to invest in needed transportation modernization while capping pollution in the state,” said Amy McLean Salls, Connecticut Director and Senior Policy Advocate at Acadia Center. “By capping transportation emissions and auctioning pollution allowances, all residents in the state will benefit through investments in transportation infrastructure and improved mobility options. The state’s overburdened and underserved communities are disproportionately bearing the brunt of non-accessible transportation options and harmful impacts of local air pollution. A modernized clean transportation system would be transformative for Connecticut’s people and economy.”

Acadia Center’s analysis demonstrates that new transportation investments funded through a regional cap-and-invest program would deliver substantial economic, environmental, and mobility benefits in Connecticut. As Connecticut works with other states to develop this program, advocates, community groups and other stakeholders are joining forces to determine what that program – and Connecticut’s transportation future – should look like.

On Tuesday evening, Acadia Center, the Center for Latino Progress, the CT Roundtable for Climate and Jobs, Sierra Club and Transport Hartford Academy gathered, joined by 55 stakeholders including transportation and environmental advocates, environmental justice activists, health professionals, business leaders, Commissioner Dykes from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Tom Maziarz from the Department of Transportation, for an important Connecticut-focused meeting to discuss efforts to deliver a more equitable, modern low-carbon transportation future.

“It is far past time for the State of Connecticut to act. As we act to quickly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants, we have the opportunity to invest in our communities, quality of life, and local employment,” said Gannon Long, Assistant Coordinator for Transport Hartford Academy at the Center for Latino Progress. “A transportation focused cap-and-trade system, implemented in 2021, could be a useful tool in achieving the state’s critically important emission reduction targets.”

To estimate the economic opportunity for a market-based transportation climate policy, Acadia Center’s report examined a sample investment portfolio including bus fleet electrification and transit system improvements, commuter rail updates and expansion, electric vehicle rebates and charging infrastructure, and walking and biking infrastructure. To determine how funds from this type of program are ultimately invested, participating states will need to develop a process that includes input from the most impacted parties, in particular low-income and disadvantaged communities.

“Cap-and-invest programs do not operate in a vacuum – they work best when they are designed to complement other policies and accelerate the transition to less-polluting options,” said Jordan Stutt, Carbon Programs Director at Acadia Center. “This analysis illustrates how cap-and-invest proceeds could bolster Connecticut’s existing efforts to deliver modern, accessible, low-carbon transportation options while spurring local job creation.”

Read the full report here: https://acadiacenter.org/document/investing-in-connecticuts-transportation-future/ 


Media Contacts:

Amy McLean Salls, Connecticut Director
amcleansalls@acadiacenter.org, 860-246-7121 x204

Jordan Stutt, Carbon Programs Director
jstutt@acadiacenter.org, 860-246-7121 x105


OurTransportationFuture.org: New Broad-Based Advocacy Effort Boosts Regional Initiative to Reduce Vehicle Pollution

42 Groups Join Together to Help Lawmakers, City Officials and Business Leaders Develop 21st-Century Clean Transportation Network Offering More Options and Serving the Needs of All in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic

WASHINGTON, D.C. AND BOSTON – Forty-two local, regional and national groups today launched a new coalition, Our Transportation Future, established to help Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states develop a regional clean transportation system that protects public health, curbs climate-changing pollution, expands economies and improves the flow of commerce. The coalition will support states’ efforts to address a transportation system that is unworkable, outmoded and is the leading source of carbon pollution driving climate change.

Our Transportation Future (OTF) is committed to finding solutions and modernizing transportation across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. The coalition aims to help transform the region’s transportation system into a model for the nation that gets people in rural, suburban and urban communities where they need to go safely, more efficiently and with less exposure to harmful pollution.

OTF experts are taking an active role to educate state policy makers and the media.  The new OTF website will provide important news, information and announcements about the ongoing efforts to modernize transportation across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.  A monthly round-up of media coverage and commentary about regional clean transportation is available at OTF with a free subscription.

OTF supports the policy objectives of the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), a collaboration of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia working to reduce transportation pollution and invest in a modern, clean transportation future for the region. In December 2018, nine TCI states and D.C. committed to working over the course of 2019 to design and create a market-based program to limit transportation pollution while improving public transit, expanding electric vehicle use, establishing more bikeways and pedestrian walkways and fostering economic growth.

Jordan Stutt, carbon programs director, Acadia Center, said: “This broad group of organizations has united around a shared reality: it’s time to invest in our transportation future. Our air is polluted, our public transit is outdated, and traffic is choking our cities. Through TCI and other clean transportation policies, we can invest in solutions for cleaner air, healthier people, and a thriving economy.”

ABOUT OTF

Our Transportation Future is a coalition of local, regional and national organizations committed to modernizing transportation across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. OTF is focused on improving our transportation system — the ways we move people and goods in the region – to spur economic growth, make us healthier and safer, clean up the environment, and improve our quality of life.

An improved transportation system means more clean cars and trucks, more reliable mass transit, more walkable and bikeable communities, and investments that connect everyone, including those in underserved and rural areas.

OTF members include:  A Better City, Acadia Center, Ceres, Clean Air Council, Climate Law and Policy Project, ClimateXChange, ConnPIRG, Connecticut Public Interest for the Environment, Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), Energize Maryland, Environment America, Environment Connecticut, Environment Massachusetts, Environment Maryland, Environment Maine, Environment New Hampshire, Environment New Jersey, Environment New York, Environment Rhode Island, Environment Virginia, Environmental Advocates of New York, Environmental League of Massachusetts, Green Energy Consumers Alliance, Green For All, Health Care Without Harm, Maryland PIRG, Mass Climate Action Network, MassPIRG, NJPIRG, Northeast Clean Energy Council, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), PennEnvironment, Sierra Club, Transportation for America, Transportation for Massachusetts, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Union of Concerned Scientists, USPIRG, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, Vermont Natural Resources Council, and 350 MASS for A Better Future.


Media Contact:

Krysia Wazny McClain, Communications Director
617-742-0054 x107, kwazny@acadiacenter.org

As States Join Forces on Transportation Policy, Massachusetts Could Raise over $5.5 Billion for Transportation Investments

BOSTON – Today, Acadia Center released a new report illustrating the benefits of a new approach for Massachusetts to reduce transportation pollution while improving the system to better meet its citizens’ needs. This new analysis shows that, if designed well, a regional cap-and-invest policy could enable the state to make over $5.5 billion in crucial transportation investments by 2030, which would generate over 52,000 long-term jobs and $17.5 billion in economic activity.

“Massachusetts could generate tremendous value for its residents through a cap-and-invest program for transportation,” said Deborah Donovan, Massachusetts Director and Senior Advocate at Acadia Center. “By capping transportation emissions and auctioning allowances, this innovative policy simultaneously creates funds for transportation infrastructure and improvements, reduces harmful pollution, and supports a clean economy.”

This analysis comes on the heels of a December announcement from nine states and Washington, D.C. that they will create a regional program to cap transportation emissions and spur investment in transportation improvements. Massachusetts has been a leader in this effort, from hosting listening sessions to gather public feedback to Governor Baker’s creation of the Commission on the Future of Transportation. Last month, that commission released a sweeping report that included the recommendation that Massachusetts lead the effort to create a regional transportation cap-and-invest program to reduce pollution and fund investments in public transit, rural mobility, and electric vehicle infrastructure.

Acadia Center’s analysis highlights the benefits that Massachusetts could achieve by putting cap-and-invest proceeds to work.

“This new analysis demonstrates that putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions and reinvesting the proceeds would be a driver of economic growth for Massachusetts,” said Emily Lewis, Senior Policy Analyst at Acadia Center. “The cap-and-invest approach received strong support at public listening sessions in Massachusetts and across the Northeast, and these findings show why.”

To estimate the economic opportunity for a market-based transportation climate policy, the report examined a sample investment portfolio including commuter rail updates and expansion, electric vehicle rebates and charging infrastructure, bus fleet electrification and expansion, and walking and biking infrastructure. To determine how funds from this type of program are ultimately invested, participating states will need to develop a process that includes input from all impacted parties, in particular low-income and disadvantaged communities.

“Cap-and-invest programs work best when they are designed to complement other policies,” said Jordan Stutt, Carbon Programs Director at Acadia Center. “This analysis illustrates how cap-and-invest proceeds could bolster the Commonwealth’s existing efforts to deliver modern, accessible, low-carbon transportation options.”

Read the full report here: https://acadiacenter.org/document/investing-in-modern-transportation-benefits-for-massachusetts/


Media Contacts:

Jordan Stutt, Carbon Programs Director
jstutt@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 ext. 105

Emily Lewis, Senior Policy Advocate
elewis@acadiacenter.org, 860-246-7121 ext. 207

Clean energy advocates push for aggressive electric vehicle roadmap

The Connecticut EV Coalition advocates for solidifying the Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate (CHEAPR) program at least through 2025. The program offers incentives up to $5,000 for state residents who buy or lease a new battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric or fuel cell electric vehicle.

At least 35 vehicles are eligible for the program, and industry leaders say more electric cars — with longer mileage ranges — are coming to dealerships every year. The CHEAPR program is not funded through taxpayer or ratepayer dollars but through merger settlement funds set aside to help the state meet clean energy goals.

“Electrifying and modernizing transportation is key to a consumer-centric clean energy future,” said Emily Lewis, a senior policy analyst at Acadia Center, in a recent statement. “Electric cars and transit buses are healthier, free of tailpipe pollutants, and cheaper to operate.”

Read the full article from The Day here (article may be behind paywall).

Massachusetts’ popular electric vehicle rebates are about to shrink

To reach these ambitious numbers, it is essential to implement measures to help consumers of all income levels go electric, activists said.

“We absolutely need to take new steps to improve access to electric vehicles to low-income residents,” said Mark LeBel, staff attorney at the Acadia Center, a Boston-based nonprofit that promotes the development of clean energy economies.

Offering larger rebates to lower-income buyers and expanding the program to include used vehicles could help achieve this goal, LeBel said. Financing options that offered low or no-interest loans could also be useful, he said.

Read the full article from Energy News Network here.

In landmark agreement, Mass., eight other states vow to cut transportation emissions

One group that has long called for a regional agreement on transportation emissions estimated it could raise more than $5.5 billion over a decade and generate more than 50,000 jobs in Massachusetts.

“A cap-and-invest program could unleash billions of dollars to deliver the overdue improvements this region needs,” said Jordan Stutt, carbon programs director for the Acadia Center, an environmental advocacy group in Boston.

Read the full article from the Boston Globe here.

Cars, trucks, boats, planes add most emissions in Maine

Kathleen Meil, Maine policy advocate for the nonprofit Acadia Center, which focuses on clean-energy issues, called the transportation sector’s contribution to the challenge “astounding.”

“As other sectors become less carbon-intensive, the piece of the pie for the transportation sector has grown,” said Meil. “The other part of it is we have not taken the (concrete) initiatives with transportation emissions that we have with other sectors.”

In a recent report titled “Building a Stronger Maine: Memorandum to the Next Governor,” the Rockport-based Acadia Center said modernizing Maine’s transportation system could create up to 8,700 new jobs with more than $1 billion in new wages. The Acadia Center has recommended Maine work toward goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 by, among other things, using 500 electric-powered buses and moving toward 17 percent of passenger cars running on electricity.

Read the full article from Central Maine here.

CT’s clean energy battles transition from Malloy to Lamont

Acadia Center, among the top tier of regional environmental advocacy groups, had no representative on the committee, but put together its own priority plan – a memo to the incoming governor.

That plan offers specific prescriptions, bolstered by data, for how to achieve changes in five key areas: transportation, including infrastructure and adoption of electric vehicles which while steady, has been slow; transition to cleaner more resilient local power; improving energy performance and emissions reductions in buildings; reforming rules for the grid; and improving community and individual energy choice – essentially the ability to use more distributed and flexibly designed generation.

“We’re taking an approach that’s not just about clean energy. We’re taking an approach that’s about economic competitiveness,” said Amy McLean Salls, Acadia’s Connecticut director and senior policy advocate. “We also need to put into place the policies and the personnel who also can be thinking innovatively and not looking at the past as the way to the future.”

Read the full article from the CT Mirror here.