TCI: Lamont, Legislators, DEEP, DOT, call for Transportation & Climate Initiative inclusion in budget

Hartford, CT – Governor Ned Lamont, Senator Christine Cohen, and Senator Will Haskell joined Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Katie Dykes, Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) Deputy Commissioner Garrett Eucalitto, and a coalition of social justice and environmental advocates at the State Capitol on Friday to call on the legislature to include implementation of the Transportation and Climate Initiative in the state budget. 

Senator Christine Cohen said: “The time to join TCI is now. This is not just about seizing another legislative public policy opportunity—this is about averting a climate crisis and taking care of people, both our current residents and future generations. We have a chance to make meaningful change through the Transportation Climate Initiative.”

If passed by the legislature, the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) will establish a declining cap on carbon dioxide pollution from gasoline and on-road diesel fuel, and require wholesale fuel suppliers to purchase allowances auctioned by participating jurisdictions to cover the carbon content of that fuel. This will generate significant investment for Connecticut’s clean transportation infrastructure and zero emission vehicles.

DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said: “The climate crisis demands climate leadership, today.  Connecticut has set ambitious climate targets that scientists tell us are required to avert catastrophe, but we will not meet them unless the legislature authorizes TCI-P this year. The TCI program will catalyze multi-state action to limit greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, improve air quality. It will invest $1 billion in safer, cleaner transportation options, especially in communities that have disproportionately suffered from air pollution and a lack of transportation access. The time to act is now.”

DOT Deputy Commissioner Garrett Eucalitto said: “It’s no secret transportation is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Connecticut. We are here to right that wrong and TCI will allow us to do just that. We must recognize the damage done by our nation’s and our state’s past infrastructure decisions that cut off and divided communities or isolated rural areas. We must acknowledge the disproportionate impact on the health and environment of people with disabilities, people with low incomes, people of color, and individuals living in underserved areas.”

“Not only will TCI provide us the opportunity to create new jobs and enhance careers, but also provide us the incredible opportunity to shape the next 30 years in transportation with the next generation. The industry will be hiring, and we need more people of color, more people who identify as LGBTQ+, and more women to help enhance our leadership, impact the decisions being made, and shape the face of transportation and infrastructure to ensure we expand transportation accessibility for everyone,” Eucallitto added.

“As a public health physician, I recognize that traffic related air pollution contributes significantly to health harms and health disparities in Connecticut,” said Dr. Mark Mitchell, Associate Professor at George Mason University.  “Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport rank among the top 20 U.S. cities for asthma. However, it’s not only asthma and COPD that are associated with traffic related air pollution, but also less obvious health conditions such as Covid 19, cancer, hyperactivity disorder, and autism—all of which are higher in urban communities of color. TCI gives us a chance to correct these health and racial disparities while reducing climate change related greenhouse gases,” he said.

The coalition of social justice and environmental advocates see this as an opportunity to support clean transportation infrastructure and reduce health-damaging air pollution in communities that have been disproportionately overburdened by transportation pollution, as well as communities who have been underserved by the transportation system.

RACCE’s Youth Organizer Michaela Barratt said: “TCI-P, if designed and implemented as we recommend can become a tool to advance racial justice. It does so by shifting power and resources to Black and Brown communities who have suffered the most from air pollution and a lack of access to equitable transportation options.”

On December 21, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to work on the implementation of TCI, a regional cap and invest program dedicated to combating the climate crisis by reducing emissions from the transportation sector and reinvesting proceeds in clean transportation infrastructure and other transportation pollution reduction initiatives.

Now the state legislature must pass authorizing legislation to implement the plan. The original bill as endorsed by the Environment Committee (SB 884, An Act Concerning Transportation Related Carbon Emissions) 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.

The elected officials, agency heads, and advocates are urging legislative leaders to ensure TCI is approved by the end of this year’s state legislative session on June 9.

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