Don’t give up on the regional climate plan

Connecticut’s transportation system takes a toll on our health, climate, and economy. Today, most of us travel in gasoline-powered cars that emit air pollutants that harm public health and warm the planet. And we’re spending a lot of money doing it: Americans now owe a combined total of over $ 1.2 trillion in auto loans, a 75% increase since 2009.

Governor Ned Lamont knows we desperately need to transform our transportation system. That is why it is disappointing to hear that he is prepared to throw in the towel on the transport and climate initiative agenda in the state’s next extraordinary legislative session. TCI-P is a regional program that would force oil and gas companies to pay for the auto pollution they cause in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic states, allowing states like Connecticut to reinvest the funds. in clean transport options such as public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure. .

The governor said on Wednesday that he would still be willing to sign the measure if it reached his office. Connecticut cannot afford to wait. Lamont and his colleagues should pass the TCI-P so Connecticut can transform our transportation system.

The bipartite infrastructure package and the accompanying reconciliation bill offer a major opportunity for transition to a more sustainable transport system. The bipartisan bill alone would provide more than $ 550 billion to rebuild crumbling infrastructure. This funding would go a long way to supporting clean transportation options, like electrified vehicles and reliable public transportation, and would help avoid public health crises caused by vehicle deaths and air pollution.

While this incoming federal funding may begin the transition our transportation system needs, for lasting change we need stable sources of local funding like TCI-P.

TCI is a multi-state program that would cap greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by 26 percent over the next decade. To reduce climate-damaging emissions and encourage market innovation in the transportation sector, TCI-P would charge oil and gas companies for the pollution they cause in northeastern and central states. ‘Atlantic. Money raised through the program, projected at over $ 2 billion per year if all TCI jurisdictions implement the plan, would be invested in expanding clean transportation options, such as electrified transit and extension of walking and cycling infrastructure.

Passing the TCI-P would be key to helping Connecticut mobilize the matching funding it needs to take advantage of the federal infrastructure bill. The bill requires the federal government to match the funding a state raises for infrastructure projects and multiply it by 5, but for that to happen, certain conditions must be met. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has calculated that the state will need to provide a total of $ 944.3 million to the federal government to give Connecticut its increased matching funds. If implemented, TCI could make a significant difference by increasing Connecticut’s initial requirement to $ 944.3 million.

The federal infrastructure bill also includes competitive grants that states can apply for in order to receive additional funds for specific projects. These grants are in addition to matching funds. The federal government awards grants in part based on a state’s ability to provide matching funding.

Additionally, the state believes Connecticut will need to raise an additional $ 148 million to $ 370 million to stand a chance of winning just 1% of those competitive grants.

State Senator Will Haskell, co-chair of the State Senate Transportation Committee, confirmed that TCI-P will help raise the matching funds Connecticut needs to compete for federal infrastructure grants. His colleagues should join us.

We need a constant flow of local funding to build a transport system that puts our needs and the environment first. The massive new influx of federal funds will transform our transportation system. But without climate investments like TCI-P, there’s no guarantee that transformation will reduce carbon emissions and create a safer, cleaner, and more affordable transportation system for Connecticut.

Lamont should continue to support the implementation of the TCI to make this single federal funding even more effective.

Ryan Giunta is a Transportation Associate for the United States Public Interest Research Group.

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