Press Release: Advocates Call on Lamont, CT Lawmakers to Keep Their Commitments on TCI

13 Environmental, Transit, and Social-Justice Focused Organizations Urge Meaningful Action on Climate Change in 2022

Hartford, CT- The decision to pause Connecticut’s implementation of the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) has had a domino effect on the region, underscoring the important role our state plays in addressing the climate crisis. Lawmakers have missed a critical opportunity to cap transportation pollution in CT and act on our climate emergency. Connecticut was poised to be a regional leader in addressing transportation emissions, and 24 hours after Governor Lamont abandoned TCI, Massachusetts and Rhode Island backed away from the program in response. 

The Transportation & Climate Initiative is a multi-state agreement that would cap transportation pollution, charge wholesale polluters for emissions, and direct the funds to improve transportation and air quality for Connecticut residents. TCI is our state’s best opportunity to address our climate mitigation and environmental justice challenges with a regional approach. 

In September, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) reported that despite Connectictut’s aggressive carbon emissions reductions goals laid out in the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act, transportation emissions continue to rise in our state: Connecticut is not on track to meet its 2030 and 2050 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction requirements.

Beginning with Governor Rell in 2010 and continuing throughout the past decade, supporters of TCI have worked with our fellow states to craft a robust and equitable program to address the largest source of climate pollution in our region. Citizen activists across Connecticut have spent years working to advance this critical policy as the demand for real, tangible action on climate change has grown to an all-time high. 

Governor Lamont’s decision to withdraw support for the Transportation and Climate Initiative turns a blind eye to the urgency of the climate crisis we face. Inaction is a disservice to all the communities and residents that would have benefited from the pollution reductions and clean transportation investments under the program. In 2018, the Governor’s Council on Climate Change noted that transportation emissions need to fall by about one-third in order to meet our 2030 target. Only two months ago, Connecticut’s greenhouse gas inventory confirmed that we are not on track to meet the emission reductions required by our Global Warming Solutions Act.

Advocates pledge to continue to fight for TCI on behalf of Connecticut’s communities who will bear the brunt of the consequences from inaction. While there is no single “silver bullet” that will solve our transportation issues, TCI provides the essential structure around which a comprehensive approach can be built – one that guarantees the emissions reductions necessary to meet our targets and improve the quality of life of Connecticut’s residents.

Advocates offered the following statements:

“Acadia Center and our partners in the Connecticut’s Transportation Future coalition have worked tirelessly over the last few years to build support for action on transportation pollution through TCI. Businesses, mayors, community leaders, and public health professionals have come out in support of the program and its economic, public health, and climate benefits,” said Amy McLean, Acadia Center’s Connecticut Director and Senior Policy Advocate. “Environmental justice leaders have worked closely with state agencies and the legislature to center equity and transportation justice in Connecticut’s implementation of the TCI. While Governor Lamont appears content to press pause on that important work, we are committed to moving it forward.”

“We cannot afford to wait for a convenient time to protect the planet,” said Louis Rosado Burch, Connecticut Program Director at Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “We are experiencing increased coastal flooding inundating our shoreline communities, and some of the nation’s worst air quality in our urban centers. Climate Change is impacting our lives every day, and it’s getting worse the longer we delay action. Pulling their support for TCI was a short-sighted move by the Lamont administration, which kicks the can even further down the road on addressing carbon pollution. Connecticut residents want bold leadership from their elected leaders. TCI is a necessity, not a luxury to be put on the shelf for another day.

“Connecticut is at a crossroads—will we take climate change seriously, or not?”, said Charles J. Rothenberger, Climate and Energy Attorney at Save the Sound.  “It’s now been more than two months since the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced Connecticut is not on track to meet its required emissions reductions. The Transportation and Climate Initiative would cut emissions by 26 percent over the next ten years and invest in clean transportation and improved air quality in the communities that need it most. That’s exactly the kind of action we need, and it’s why we’ll keep fighting for this policy. Our leaders need to step up to the plate and show the same urgency in their policies that they’ve shown in their rhetoric. The cost of inaction is too steep.”

“We are up against the richest and most powerful industries in the world in the fight against climate change,” said Megan Macomber, Policy Advocate at the CT League of Conservation Voters. “The pushback on TCI shows us how loud these fossil fuel industries can be, but they do not represent the will of the majority.” According to a November 12, 2021 poll by Langer Research Associates, 78% of 18- to 29-year-olds say climate change is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. 

“Major climate programs like TCI must not fall victim to in-party fighting or be used to leverage political agendas. With 2022 elections on the horizon, elected officials should double down on their efforts to reduce fossil fuel emissions,  not shy away from the fight,” said Macomber. 

“Governor Lamont’s decision to abandon his commitment to capping and reducing carbon pollution is a huge step backwards for our state’s efforts to fight climate change,” said Chris Phelps, Environment Connecticut State Director. “The Governor’s lack of commitment to action on climate is a profound disappointment to Connecticut residents who are looking to our elected officials to rise to the challenge of doing what is necessary to stop climate change before it is too late.” 

The following TCI coalition members have signed on to this statement:

Lori Brown, CT League of Conservation Voters

Daphne Dixon, Live Green Network 

Nathan Frohling, The Nature Conservancy

Robert Goodrich, Radical Advocates for Cross-Cultural Education

Anne Hulick, Clean Water Action

Thomas Lefebvre, Transport Hartford/ Center for Latino Progress

Gannon Long, Operation Fuel

Amy McLean, Acadia Center

Mark A. Mitchell, MD, Mitchell Environmental Health Associates

Chris Phelps, Environment Connecticut

Louis Rosado Burch, Citizens Campaign for the Environment

Charles Rothenberger, Save the Sound

Mustafa Salahuddin, ATU Local 1336

Richard Walser, Citizens Climate Lobby New Haven

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