Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia will pursue an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reinvest millions of dollars in cleaner transportation initiatives.
Gov. Ned Lamont, his counterparts in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and the mayor of Washington signed a memorandum of understanding Dec. 21 supporting the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program.
This interstate collaboration creates both regional program goals in addition to state specific initiatives to reduce emissions and provide clean transportation solutions.
The goals of the program include:
- reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the transportation sector
- improving air quality and public health, increasing resilience to the impacts of climate change, and providing more affordable access to clean transportation choices
- promoting local economic opportunity and creating high quality jobs
- maximizing the efficiency of the multi jurisdictional program to ensure greater benefits
- advancing equity for communities overburdened by pollution and underserved by the transportation system
The program looks to cut carbon emissions by 26% through 2032 through a modified cap-and-trade program.
A recent Harvard School of Public Health report found that transportation is responsible for 38% of Connecticut's greenhouse gas emissions.
Fuel suppliers will buy permits (allowances) for the pollution generated by their fuel sales, with that revenue invested in clean transportation projects.
According to the TCI-P, the total number of allowances would decline each year, resulting in less transportation pollution.
If fuel suppliers pass those new costs to consumers, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection estimates gas prices will increase 5 cents a gallon when the program is fully implemented.
However, a Tufts University study reported gas prices could increase anywhere from 3-38 cents a gallon, depending on growth assumptions and emissions goals.
If approved by the Connecticut legislature, the program is expected to generate significant revenue for Special Transportation Fund.
The Lamont administration estimates it will generate $89 million in its first year and up to $117 million annually by 2032.
This new revenue can be used for transportation investments including:
- improving existing public transit systems
- developing new bus routes in suburban and rural communities
- electrifying buses, rail, and state fleets
- expanding safe bike lanes, bike paths, walking trails, and sidewalks
- expanding bike-share programs
- creating rebates for electric and low-emission vehicles
- creating incentives for continued telecommuting
While the MOU may be signed using executive powers, the authority to levy or increase a tax rests solely with the state legislature.
Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island represent just three of the 12 states from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions to sign the MOU.
While the goals of the program have been outlined, the way in which Connecticut interacts with the collaboration were not been specified.
The MOU does establish an administrative organization funded by TCI-P participating states proportionally to their budgets, but does not include specific details outlining processes.