Governors abandon pact to reduce transport pollution | Massachusetts News

By STEVE LeBLANC, Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) – Gov. Charlie Baker abandons his administration’s ambitious plan to create a multi-state pact to dramatically reduce transport pollution after the deal fails to gain traction in others States.

The announcement comes after Democratic Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, who backed the initiative, said this week he was withdrawing from the Transportation and Climate Initiative. Rhode Island was the only other state to express interest in the pact.

Baker quickly followed suit on Thursday. The Republican had initially hoped more than a dozen states would sign.

“The Baker-Polito administration has always maintained that the Commonwealth will only move forward with TCI if multiple states engage, and, since this does not exist, the climate transport initiative is no longer the best solution for them. Commonwealth transport and environmental needs, “Baker Press Secretary Terry MacCormack said in a written statement on Thursday.

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Governors of other New England states – New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont – had expressed skepticism of the program, in part out of concern that it might amount to a tax on the government. gasoline or a carbon tax.

The proposal was a long-term effort to reduce greenhouse gas pollution caused by transport.

This would have forced the major suppliers of gasoline and diesel to buy “quotas” for the pollution caused by the use of the fuels they sell in the region.

The number of emission allowances would have decreased each year, according to the plan, generating billions for states to invest in transport options that reduce carbon emissions – like public transport; zero emission buses, cars and trucks; charging stations for electric vehicles; High-speed wireless internet in rural and low-income areas to enable telecommuting; road and bridge repairs; and safer bike paths and sidewalks.

The initiative could have generated more than $ 1.8 billion in Massachusetts by 2032, according to Baker. States participating in the initiative had agreed to invest 35% of annual program revenues in communities underserved by current transportation options and with disproportionately high pollution levels.

Early on, however, critics – including trade and conservative groups – pointed to potential gas price hikes. If the fuel companies passed on the cost of the allowances to consumers, the price of gasoline in the region could have climbed 5 to 17 cents per gallon.

Paul Diego Craney, spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, welcomed the collapse of the pact.

“TCI is a regressive gas tax regime that is said to have hurt the middle class and the working poor the most. It is wonderful news to see that families in Massachusetts will not be forced to endure the economic hardship TCI would have imposed on them, ”said Craney.

Environmental and transportation groups said TCI’s goals remain important.

“For the good of the entire Commonwealth – but in particular our environmental justice populations who have been hit hardest by transportation pollution and the COVID-19 pandemic – reducing carbon emissions and Tailpipe pollution must remain a high priority, ”said Josh Ostroff of Transportation for Massachusetts, said in a press release.

MacCormack said the administration is focused on the roughly $ 10 billion the state is expected to receive for transportation under infrastructure legislation enacted this week by President Joe Biden.

“The new federal infrastructure funding program, US bailout investments, and excess tax revenues generated by Massachusetts’ strong economic recovery make the Commonwealth better positioned to modernize its roads, bridges and transportation systems.” public, while also investing to reduce transport emissions. , provide equitable transport solutions and benefits, and meet the state’s ambitious climate goals, ”he said in a press release.

Massachusetts has taken other steps to reduce tailpipe pollution, including setting a target of 100% zero-emission passenger vehicle sales by 2035, joining 14 other states in favor of 30% of electric vehicle sales for commercial trucks and buses by 2030 and 100% by 2050, and spend $ 65 million on electric vehicle charging stations.

Baker also signed an executive order setting a target of 100% zero-emission vehicles in state fleets by 2040.

In New England, transportation is responsible for over 40% of greenhouse gas emissions.

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