Press Release: TCI Momentum Continues: Middletown is Fifth Large Municipality to Pass Resolution in Support of Transportation & Climate Initiative

Hartford, CT – Last month, Governor Ned Lamont effectively took the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) off the table for the 2022 legislative session, although he later said he would sign a bill if it reached his desk. This delay has led to setbacks in fellow TCI states and, if not countered by aggressive climate action on other fronts, threatens Connecticut’s ability to meet its greenhouse gas reduction commitments.

Despite this setback, public demand for TCI hasn’t waned. Monday night, the Middletown Common Council voted to approve a resolution in support of TCI, making them the fifth large municipality to declare support for the initiative, joining Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, and West Hartford.

“Momentum for the Transportation and Climate Initiative remains strong because the public and municipal leaders understand it will slash air pollution and bring much-needed investments to our communities,” said Save the Sound Climate and Energy Attorney Charles Rothenberger. “We applaud Middletown for taking a leadership role that demonstrates the Mayor and Common Council understand the urgency of climate action, and we urge Connecticut’s legislators to follow their lead by enacting strong climate legislation in 2022.”

While the climate and clean air proposal has been unfortunately politicized in some areas, Middletown demonstrated bipartisan support for this policy that would benefit all residents; two Republican Councilors, Minority Leader Phillip Pessina and Ed Ford, Jr. joined Democratic Councilors in supporting the resolution (6-4-1).

New Haven passed its resolution on November 4, 2021. East Rock Alder Anna Festa, who serves as New Haven City Services and Environmental Policy (CSEP) Committee Chair, emphasized that at least 50 percent of the money raised through TCI will go towards communities overburdened by transportation air pollution and/or underserved by existing transportation services, saying, “TCI will bring jobs, cleaner air, and better infrastructure to our city. Passing this resolution tells our state leaders how important TCI is for our community.” Connecticut’s TCI implementation plan includes establishment of an Equity Advisory Board to guide use of the investments.

Hartford passed its resolution on October 12, 2021. “I am proud of the work the City of Hartford is doing to address climate change, but there is still so much to be done,” said Hartford City Council President Maly D. Rosado. “City Council has joined with our Mayor to prioritize sustainable, meaningful, and long-term climate solutions. The TCI program is one very important piece of the puzzle and I am grateful for the continuing efforts of activists, environmental organizations, and community leaders. I hope this initiative provides a pathway for further collaboration with other municipalities in the development of a local/regional action plan to meet the immediate needs of residents most impacted by this crisis.” 

West Hartford passed its resolution on September 27, 2021. West Hartford Town Councilor Ben Wenograd said: “Climate change is real; it is a disaster. We are all talking about weather, about fires, about 200-year storms that seem to happen twice in a year…this is not something that we get to sit back on, it is a crisis. Now, as other cities and towns urge the legislature to take up this initiative, I offer them my full support. While we have made progress by increasing bike usage and infrastructure, encouraging transit-oriented development, and passing a comprehensive clean energy plan, the most significant work needs to happen at the state and regional level. We are all in this together.”

Bridgeport passed its resolution on November 1, 2021. Bridgeport City Councilor Scott Burns said: “Bridgeport has been a hub of transportation and energy generation for decades and as a consequence suffers from a legacy of environmental injustice. TCI enables us to begin to reverse these conditions and implement changes that will bring better health to our community and improved economic opportunities for our residents. It’s hard to imagine Connecticut’s most populous city on Long Island Sound has poor air quality, but that’s the reality. And we can’t wait for the federal government to bring about meaningful steps to address climate change here in southern New England. TCI is a rational and market-based plan to reach these goals.”

Other municipalities considering TCI resolutions include Norwalk and Stamford.

Norwalk City Councilor Dominique Johnson said: “We all have a fundamental right to breathe clean air. Pollution from I-95 disproportionately affects our urban core communities here in Norwalk and is just one important aspect of the TCI for our city. The funding TCI will provide our communities is an important part of the state and federal funds needed at the local level to proactively carry out the clean energy and climate resilient plans our future generations are depending on to live a healthy and safe life in our city.”

Transportation pollution has resulted in poor air quality in communities statewide. Elected officials have proclaimed support for TCI because it will bring improved air quality, reduced health burdens, and better transportation infrastructure and services. Adoption of TCI will result in health and economic benefits for urban, suburban, and rural communities.

In addition to the resolutions, New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, and Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim are among the chief municipal officials who have publicly endorsed TCI.

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 reconvene a special session to authorize the program through legislation. As endorsed by the legislature’s Environment Committee, the program would require that at least 50 percent of TCI 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.

More information about the air quality, economic, and public health benefits of TCI is available at www.cttransportationfuture.org.

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