The largest and most diverse collection ever of health, community, business, transportation, environmental, and other groups have come out strongly in favor of a Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) that helps erase the “deeply inequitable” aspects of the current transportation system in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. The 200-group letter lays out “strong safeguards and guarantees” for ensuring underserved and overburdened communities become key beneficiaries of the proposed TCI cap-and-invest program to modernize transportation in the region when the final memorandum of understanding (MOU) committing to the TCI program is released by participating states in the next few weeks.
Amid growing signs of the need for state leadership in the wake of the United States formally leaving the Paris Climate Agreement, the letter from the large number of organizations is addressed to the governors of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia, and the mayor of Washington, D.C. TCI envisions an improved regional transportation system would mean more reliable and accessible mass transit; more clean electric buses, cars, and trucks and charging infrastructure; more walkable and bikeable communities; less congestion and pollution; and increased investments in projects that connect everyone, including those in underserved urban, suburban, and rural areas.
The joint letter calls for states to adopt a TCI program that achieves these outcomes by including the following:
- A strong carbon pollution cap, requiring at a minimum a 25% reduction in transportation carbon pollution over the next decade.
- A commitment to prioritize and dedicate significant program spending to address the needs of overburdened and underserved communities. The 35% funding commitment proposed by states for overburdened and underserved communities is an absolute minimum, and individual states should commit to investing significantly more in these communities.
- Equity Advisory Bodies representative of each state’s overburdened and underserved communities and have clear decision-making roles.
- Commitments to achieve emissions reductions in overburdened communities and full transparency and reporting on program spending and emissions and equity outcomes.
- Commitment to strong labor and workforce development standards and a just transition.
The letter from the 200 groups also notes: “A TCI cap-and-invest program alone will not solve these problems, and it cannot and must not be our only response. A well-designed TCI program, however, with strong safeguards and guarantees will move us forward by investing billions of job-creating dollars in clean and equitable transportation. Those investments combined with a legally binding limit on transportation carbon pollution will hold the oil industry accountable.”
For a full list of the groups, click here.