Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) Proposed Framework Would Result in Meaningful, Though Partial, Progress in Tackling Transportation-Related Climate Pollution

Montpelier, VT – Today, Vermont joined other New England and mid-Atlantic states, along with Washington, DC, in issuing a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI).

Modeled on the successful Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that Vermont joined under the Douglas Administration, the draft MOU outlines a proposed framework for TCI that would reduce carbon pollution in the transportation sector by placing a cap on emissions from fossil fuel companies and using revenue raised to help participating states invest in cleaner transportation options like public transit, electric buses and cars, park-and-rides, sidewalks and bike infrastructure, and more.

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 help protect the health of our children and all Vermonters and foster a more diverse, clean transportation network, including raising revenues to invest in strategies that serve low-income and rural Vermonters.

The following Vermont organizations and others urge the State of Vermont’s participation in the Transportation and Climate Initiative as an important step forward, offering the best opportunity at this time to help realize our shared goal of reducing climate pollution in an equitable manner that respects Vermont’s rural economy.

It is incumbent on Governor Phil Scott and the Vermont Legislature to support participation in this regional program and continue to work to shape it in accord with the majority of Vermonters who have called for meaningful steps to address the climate crisis and raise revenues needed to help Vermonters – low income and rural Vermonters in particular – access more clean, convenient, affordable transportation solutions.

Johanna Miller, Energy and Climate Program Director, Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC): // (802) 371-9611

“This is a crucial step forward, and it’s essential that Vermont and other states make this long-overdue collaborative commitment. However, we must be prepared to do more, enacting ensuing and equitable complementary policies to truly transform our transportation systems and reduce the pollution that is creating a climate crisis.” 

Lauren Hierl, Executive Director, Vermont Conservation Voters (VCV), // (860) 670-2629
“Transportation is Vermont’s leading contributor to climate pollution. The TCI framework – while only addressing a portion of the problem – is an important step forward in addressing this critical sector both here at home and across the region. We must be at the table and participating in this initiative, while also working to strengthen the program, and ensuring the money raised is spent in ways that help give more Vermonters – particularly low-income and rural Vermonters – better, more affordable, and less polluting transportation options.”

Paul Zabriskie, Capstone Community Action,
“Transportation is not only a serious climate challenge, it is also a significant hurdle to job access and retention for the most vulnerable Vermonters. Participating in TCI, and then working to shape the program and direct revenues raised from it to provide more affordable, clean, and flexible transportation choices is critical. That must start with prioritizing solutions that best serve Vermonters with limited incomes and live in some of our most rural communities.” 

Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur, Director of Transportation Efficiency at Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, VEIC,
“We know from years of experience that RGGI’s cap and invest program has worked to reduce emissions from electric generation. It’s time that we apply this proven solution to the transportation sector and invest revenue in programs that will reduce costs for Vermonters and provide more transportation options for rural residents and vulnerable communities.”

Dan Quinlan, Chair, Vermont Climate and Health Alliance (VCHA),
“As the urgent warnings coming from medical and health organizations across the planet demonstrate, Vermonters should be highly concerned about the fact that our greenhouse gas emissions have risen by 16% since 1990. By ensuring that the TCI program becomes a high impact program, Vermont can begin to address the largest contributor of carbon pollution from our state, helping to do our part to address this global health emergency.”

Jordan Giaconia, Public Policy Manager, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR)
“Climate Change presents the greatest threat to the people and environments of Vermont, and climate action offers the greatest economic opportunity in Vermont history. VBSR members recognize our profound shared responsibility to take urgent action. In order to meet our climate goals we need an innovative answer to the problem of pollution from transportation. A strong, equitable Transportation & Climate Initiative will advance clean transportation alternatives while prioritizing low- and moderate-income communities for investment, bringing Vermont’s most vulnerable along in our climate future.”

Ben Edgerly Walsh, Climate and Energy Program Director, Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) – // 802-734-7680
“This opportunity to invest in solutions that both cut climate pollution and save Vermonters money on transportation is worth pursuing. No single action is going to be sufficient to put us on track to hit Vermont’s climate commitments, but this would clearly be a step in the right direction.”

Robb Kidd, Conservation Program Manager, Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club,
“In the face of the Trump Administration’s disastrous attempts to pump the brakes on cleaning up transportation across the nation, we appreciate Governor Scott’s participation in a regional approach to reduce transportation emissions and invest in solutions to move away from the outdated, dirty, health-harming status quo. We urge Governor Scott to act boldly as Vermont moves into the next step of the process to gather public input on the region-wide proposal. Setting a strong cap on emissions will ensure the multi-state initiative will raise the funding necessary for transformative investments in clean transportation in Vermont and beyond, serving communities overburdened by pollution and underserved by current transportation choices.”

David Mears, Executive Director of Audubon Vermont,
“Climate change is the greatest threat to Vermont’s birds and wildlife. Vermonters have the opportunity to make a significant step forward to address that threat through the Transportation and Climate Initiative.”