Hartford, CT – Tuesday afternoon, medical and healthcare professionals sent a letter to Connecticut House and Senate leadership calling for swift passage of the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI). In the letter, they proclaimed support for TCI for the following reasons: improved air quality, reduced likelihood of health burdens, creation of clean jobs, as well as health and economic benefits for rural communities. The sign-on letter was coordinated by Save the Sound, Clean Water Action, American Lung Association in Connecticut, and Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have estimated that TCI would avoid over 300 deaths per year, and prevent thousands of children from having asthma-related problems in our region. More information about the air quality and public health benefits of TCI is available at the recently launched CT’s Transportation Future webpage.
Kimberly Sandor, Executive Director of Connecticut Nurses Association, said, “Nurses see the impact of poor air quality on patient’s health on a daily basis. Polluted air can trigger asthma, resulting in missed days at school, and irritate airways. Individuals may even spend less time being active outdoors to avoid irritants. Communities of color and low-income are often the areas with the worst air quality and the highest levels of disparities and asthma. The Transportation Climate Initiative is a step in the right direction, reducing emissions from transportation and investing in cleaner technologies, to improve air quality will impact respiratory and overall health of Connecticut residents. This is a common-sense health protective policy.”
Dr. Anisha Advani said, “As a New Haven-based physician and a mom of a child with asthma, I know all too well the deleterious health effects of poor air quality, as well the disproportionate effects on our communities of color living in urban areas. This bill has the potential to improve the day to day health and functioning of our neighbors, friends, colleagues, and communities. I wholeheartedly support the TCI and appreciate all local efforts to mitigate our carbon footprint.”
Alexis Hopkins, founder of LRH Wellness, said, “The connection between environmental justice and health equity is often forgotten, yet the two are linked inextricably. TCI’s initiative to transition public transportation to a cleaner more environmentally conscious version directly benefits minoritized groups that disproportionately rely on said transportation methods. These efforts will directly affect life expectancy and will not only lead to better environmental outcomes but health as well.”
New Haven-based physician Dr. Gary Spinner said, “I support TCI in the interest of the health of Black and Latinx people in Connecticut who have been disproportionately impacted by air pollution. Throughout the U.S., highways have been constructed closest to neighborhoods of racial and ethnic minorities, and it has long been shown that people of color suffer greater rates of asthma, and certain cancers, that can be attributed to environmental toxins including air pollution from auto emissions. We need interventions to correct this inequity.”
On December 21, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to work on the implementation of the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), a regional cap and invest program dedicated to combating the climate crisis by reducing emissions from the transportation sector and reinvesting proceeds in transportation infrastructure.
Now the state legislature must pass the language contained in SB 884, An Act Reducing Transportation-Related Carbon Emissions, to implement the plan. This bill also requires that at least 50 percent of investments be made in communities that suffer serious health impacts from air pollution or that are underserved by transportation infrastructure, and establishes an equity advisory council to guide these investments. Advocates are pushing for this critical measure to be included in the state budget, still being negotiated as of this writing.
You can take action for healthy air too. Visit CtTransportationFuture.org for more information and easy action opportunities.