Hartford Activists & Health Experts Raise Concern on Air Pollution

On June 13, we participated in a press conference demanding passage of TCI to address public health disparities. Below is the press release from our partners at Transport Hartford.

HARTFORD, CT – June 13, 2021 – During a press conference in front of the Community Health Services at 1pm in Hartford on Albany Avenue, advocates called upon the Connecticut General Assembly to pass the Transportation and Climate Initiative during the Special Legislative Session. TCI will lower air pollution and reduce health risks, including asthma rates, among Connecticut residents, especially those in urban centers.

Pictured here from left to right is Brenda Watson, Executive Director of Operation Fuel, Brenda’s daughter, Sara Bronin, Founder of Desegregate CT, Dr. Mark Mitchell, Associate Professor at George Mason University and former Director of Health for the City of Hartford, and Anne Hulick, Connecticut State Director of Clean Water Action.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health estimate that TCI would avoid over 300 deaths per year in the North East, and prevent thousands of children from having asthma-related health illnesses. TCI would lower healthcare expenses as air pollution decreases. TCI is a unique opportunity to improve the public health of Connecticut residents, especially in communities overburdened by air pollution.

TCI will generate about $1 billion in revenue between 2023 and 2032 in Connecticut. A minimum of 50% will be invested in communities that are overburdened by air pollution (including many environmental justice and urban communities located close to transportation corridors and power plants), or underserved by the transportation system. An Equity and Environmental Justice Advisory Board will be formed, comprised of residents of these communities to determine the programs best suited for their needs.

Dr. Mark Mitchell, Associate Professor, George Mason University, former Director of Health for the City of Hartford:
“Air pollution sends many Hartford children to the emergency room — unable to breathe. We must adopt policies that address health disparities and tackle asthma among children. We must pass TCI to invest in clean transportation solutions such as reliable public transit, electric vehicle infrastructure, cleaner school buses, walkable and bikeable communities, and more — in order to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. As a public health physician, I believe that TCI is the best opportunity we have ever had to reduce our very high asthma, cancer, and learning disability rates and health disparities in Connecticut.”

Brenda Watson, Executive Director, Operation Fuel:
“Just like the Governor’s Council on Climate Change, TCI has been focused on achieving environmental justice. The beauty of this legislation is that it will address climate change, health and equity at the same time. It dedicates 50% of the funding to overburdened communities as well as communities underserved by the transportation system. It establishes an Equity and Environmental Justice Advisory Board, composed of representatives of vulnerable communities, to recommend expenditures that would have the most benefit to these communities in reducing transportation related air pollution and providing jobs. This will improve both outdoor and indoor air pollution.”

Amy McLean, Connecticut Director & Senior Policy Advocate, Acadia Center:
“Not passing SB 884 means that Connecticut residents will continue to suffer the health effects caused carbon emissions from the transportation sector. Without this legislation Connecticut has no comprehensive tools to fight against the problem. Whiffing on this critical climate and carbon pollution reduction legislation is a short sighted and a terrible decision. The 2021 special session is the right time to pass SB 884. The time is now….. not next year or the year after….. now.” Acadia Center is a clean energy nonprofit that has been working on TCI across the region for over 6 years.

Charles Rothenberger, Save the Sound Climate and Energy Attorney:
“The Transportation and Climate Initiative is the most significant piece of climate legislation before the CT General Assembly in a decade and it’s strongly supported by doctors, businesses, and climate and social justice advocates. By using the health of our communities and the future of our environment as a bargaining chip, elected officials are abdicating their responsibility to protect public health, enhance the quality of life in our most challenged communities, and meet our state’s climate commitments. The legislature can still lead on these issues by getting TCI over the finish line this session. Let’s call a vote and pass this critical climate and public health legislation.”

Lori Brown, Executive Director, CT League of Conservation Voters:
“Legislators and the Governor need to fight harder — together — for equitable solutions to climate change. TCI has vocal support from all corners of our state because of the immense benefits and targeted investments it will bring to communities most impacted by air pollution. We, the public, should not accept anything less from our elected leaders.”

Robert Goodrich, co-founder of RACCE:
“In this moment, senate leadership and the governor must either change course or be put on notice that their decisions to negotiate in bad faith on responsible tax increases on corporations and wealthy individuals while using TCI-P as a poker chip in high stakes game of all or nothing has endangered our communities by sacrificing tools for advancing racial justice, cleaner air, and transportation equity at the alter of the elite politicians in our state.”

Thomas Regan-Lefebvre, coordinator at Transport Hartford Academy at the Center for Latino Progress:
“Members of the Legislative Assembly must listen to doctors and nurses’ expertise. TCI will improve air quality and will address transportation inequities that are hurting so many in our state. We can no longer delay tackling this health emergency: the Legislative Assembly must pass TCI during the special legislative session.”

Chris Phelps, State Director, Environment Connecticut:
“If they are serious about fighting climate change, Connecticut’s legislators cannot leave Hartford this year without voting to cap and reduce carbon pollution from transportation SB 884, implementing the Transportation and Climate Initiative agreement is must-pass legislation for any politician in Hartford who is serious about fighting climate change. We cannot afford to wait to act on climate.”

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