On December 17, 2019, Vermont joined other New England and mid-Atlantic states, along with Washington, D.C., in issuing a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI).
While insufficient as outlined to address the scope of emissions coming from the transportation sector, the MOU is nonetheless a long-awaited and potentially significant step forward that will foster a more diverse, clean transportation network, including raising revenues to invest in strategies that serve low-income and rural Vermonters.
Effective December 18, 2019, TCI states are planning and beginning to implement a range of activities to ensure that their final proposed policy (view the draft here) reflects further input from diverse stakeholders, rigorous technical analysis, and consultation with leading experts.
TCI invites you to share your input during a 60-day comment period. Use this form. All material submitted through the form will inform the participating jurisdictions in the regional policy design process. The comment period closes on February 28, 2020.
VNRC has prepared talking points to help guide your comment to TCI:
- Transportation is Vermont’s highest source of carbon emissions, accounting for 44% of the state’s climate pollution.
- Vermont’s participation in a cap and invest program is not new. Under Governor Jim Douglas, Vermont joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in 2008. This cap and invest program covers the electric sector in the Northeast, and it has proven very successful, reducing consumer costs and carbon pollution from the power sector by 40 percent.
- Vermont has strategically invested the revenues raised from RGGI, directing the $2 million annually into weatherization programs that help Vermonters stop wasting energy and save money.
- Revenues from cap and invest programs, like RGGI, can help grow the economy. Energy efficiency services are a strong component of our fast-growing clean energy jobs sector, where thousands of Vermonters are earning a good living helping people retrofit their leaky homes.
- Despite strong support for climate action and tri-partisan supported climate goals, Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions have risen, with the largest percentage of emissions – almost 50 percent – coming from the transportation sector.
- A well designed cap and invest program, like a strong TCI, could serve as the lever we currently lack to require emissions reductions in the carbon-intensive transportation system.
- The Northeast and Mid Atlantic’s transportation system is inextricably interconnected. An adaptable, shared framework like TCI and cap and invest will ensure all states participate in achieving emissions reductions, while enabling states to direct revenues raised from the program to serve the unique transportation needs of their residents.
- While doing our part to reduce pollution in the transportation sector, Vermont could strategically and equitably – demographically and geographically – invest those dollars in transportation solutions that serve Vermont and Vermonters well. Designing programs and solutions that serve rural regions well, as well as investing in bus, bike, pedestrian and housing solutions in and around downtowns, is possible and essential.
- The impacts of climate change, which include more intense storms, heavier rain and snowfalls, frequent flooding and increased public health risks, including from a dramatic rise in tickborne disease, represent an urgent threat to communities, our economy, public health and people’s quality of life. To tackle climate change, we must reduce emissions in our most carbon-intensive sector: Transportation. TCI offers the greatest opportunity at this pivotal moment in human history for the Northeast to act collectively to significantly reduce pollution.
- TCI offers a great opportunity to improve mobility and make meaningful reductions in carbon pollution at a regional scale. A comprehensive approach like cap and invest can improve equity by helping to make clean, efficient, cost effective transportation available to everyone.