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March 22, 2021 Other Voices

Transportation Climate Initiative Program good policy for CT

In Dec. 2020, Gov. Ned Lamont, along with the governors of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and the mayor of the District of Columbia, joined a regional agreement known as the Transportation Climate Initiative Program (TCI-P).

The initiative, which creates investment for our state’s transportation goals while reducing carbon emissions, can serve as the foundation for Connecticut's clean and prosperous transportation future.

By generating revenue to address long-standing transportation infrastructure deficiencies, we will create a more modern transportation network to best promote Connecticut's economic, health and environmental future.

Heather Burns

As a state, we get to determine how this money will be used. We can invest it to increase electrification and reliability of public transit, expand biking and walk lanes, and tax rebates for the use of low-emission vehicles.

And by purchasing less fuel and spurring innovation in the clean transportation sector, our economy will expand while increasing disposable income and creating well-paying jobs for Connecticut residents.

Additionally, in order to create a more livable and prosperous future for all in Connecticut, more than a third of the revenue will be reinvested into clean transportation projects in underserved communities. Such communities face the greatest exposure to toxic transportation pollution, but the lowest access to public transit.

This could save $7.6 billion in healthcare costs across the Northeast and would improve disenfranchised populations’ ability to easily commute and take part in Connecticut's expanding economy.

Many indicators, from intensified storms to more mosquitoes, have shown that the time to reduce our state’s contribution to climate change is now. Focusing on Connecticut’s transportation sector is a promising starting point, as motor vehicles make up 38% of our state’s carbon emissions.

But transportation emissions not only contribute to climate change; they degrade our air quality, contribute to Connecticut’s higher-than-average rates of asthma, and lead to our state having the most deaths related to air pollution in all of New England.

Jonathan Steinberg

Initiatives that focus on transforming our transportation sector to be cleaner and more sustainable will offer the simultaneous benefits of slashing emissions, improving public health, and creating jobs. The benefits far outweigh the costs, which at most could be a 5 cent to 9 cent rise in gas prices, a minor increase relative to yearly price fluctuations.

Ultimately this is a necessary investment in our sustainable and livable future.

Recognizing the necessity and opportunity provided by such an investment, our state’s business and industry — not least among them members of the Connecticut Sustainable Business Council — are eager to remain on the leading edge by addressing climate change head on.

By reducing our state’s leading source of emissions, TCI-P is well aligned with the many companies in the state that have already incorporated sustainability practices into business strategy, operations and logistics.

Also drawing strong support from the private sector is the innovative technique called carbon pricing, which the TCI-P system is built upon. This approach sets the stage for a possible economy-wide carbon price, while positioning Connecticut to be a leader in the face of an eventual federal price on carbon.

We’re now living in the future that we’ve continuously borrowed from. What is needed are innovative solutions to fix our decaying transportation infrastructure and the environmental and public health damage that polluters have caused.

Connecticut is ready to lead on solutions that will create equitable economic expansion, reduce our carbon footprint, and increase public health all through this much-needed, cutting-edge transportation initiative.

State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg serves the 136th House District in Westport. He is a member of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.

Heather Burns is founder and CEO of CT Sustainable Business Council, which has 23 member companies committed to building a sustainable economy in Connecticut.

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