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 Our air is polluted, our public transit is outdated, and traffic is choking our cities.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.”
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.
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But lowering emissions will show that Maine is serious about contributing to a very important fight.
It will make us healthier, too – according to the Rockport-based Acadia Center, passenger vehicle emissions were responsible for $500 million in health costs in Maine in 2015.
The Acadia Center also figures that modernizing and making green Maine’s transportation system would be a boost to the economy. By prioritizing electric cars and buses – and by implementing a vehicle emissions cap-and-trade plan based on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – Maine can raise $1 billion in new wages, create 8,700 long-term jobs and reduce emissions by 45 percent.
Read the full article from the Portland Press Herald here.
The effort isn’t unprecedented: California already has a plan to curb transportation emissions, and many East Coast states are members of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Since 2009, the initiative known as “Reggie” has capped the overall carbon dioxide produced by power plants and required plant operators to buy permits for their emissions.
Power plant emissions have fallen by 51 percent in the region since the program began, according to an analysis of RGGI data by the Acadia Center, an environmental nonprofit with offices in five Northeast states. States have used the permit proceeds to weatherize homes and to give consumers rebates on their electric bills. But the region faces significant hurdles in replicating that reduction with transportation emissions.
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.”
“I think they will want to draw on successful precedent, including California, but they also need to work with the communities that they are trying to help in this region,” said Jordan Stutt, Carbon Programs director at the Acadia Center, an organization focused on clean energy development in the Northeast.
“Making sure that there is a spot at the table for those communities to weigh in on how this program should be structured and how those benefits can delivered will be hugely important,” Stutt said.
Read the full article from Inside Climate News here.
“This is a great step forward for a region that desperately needs a more modern transportation system,” said Jordan Stutt, the director of carbon programs at the Acadia Center, a Boston-based environmental group. “I think this is a reflection of the kind of process we want to see more of when it comes to climate and economic policy.”
Others pointed to the additional benefits associated with cutting carbon emissions from cars and trucks, including cuts to other pollutants that are harmful to public health.
Read the full article from Scientific American here.
Jordan Stutt, director of the carbon program at the Acadia Center, a Boston nonprofit that promotes clean energy solutions, is glad to see the discussion focusing on ways to invest carbon pricing revenue to needed projects. Even a charge of $10 per ton on transportation-related carbon emissions would generate close to $300 million, much of which could be used for much-needed improvements in the state’s transit system, he said.
“It’s not enough to completely replace the need for other funding, but it’s enough to make some real progress,” he said.
While the millions of dollars in VW settlement money is a promising start, building a clean, modern, resilient and equitable network of transportation options will take much larger – and longer-term – investments. A number of policies could provide funds and market signals to accelerate and guide transportation investments; one such policy would be a regional cap-and-invest program. In Rhode Island and regionally, a cap-and-invest policy can reduce emissions while raising revenue for local reinvestment in transportation improvements to better serve residents and businesses.
Read the full article from Providence Business News here.
“When you look at the success the states have had with RGGI in the electric sector, in some way it’s an obvious leap to get to the point where you say, ‘We should have a similar policy for the transportation sector,’” says Jordan Stutt, a Boston-based policy analyst for Acadia Center, an advocacy group in New England and New York that has watch-dogged RGGI since its formation.
Read the full article from Yale Climate Connections here.