Toxic combustion fumes coming out of car exhaust pipe

Research from Harvard School of Public Health shows potential pollution reduction from the Transportation Climate Initiative would prevent 300 deaths a year in the Northeast. (Adobe Stock)

Listen to the report HERE. 

By Michayla Savitt 

June 14, 2021

HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut environment and health advocates are pushing for the Transportation and Climate Initiative to get a vote in the General Assembly’s special session, which starts Wednesday.

The Initiative is a cap-and-invest program for vehicles in order to curb pollution, and encourage use of clean-energy transit and fuels. It would require companies to pay states when they surpass the cap, then half the money would be invested into communities near transportation corridors.

Lori Brown, executive director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, is one of many advocates concerned about the bill stalling out this session.

“Transportation accounts for 38% of our greenhouse-gas emissions in our state and our region,” Brown noted. “And anything you can do to reduce those emissions takes a big step forward. This is a solution. It’s ready-made.”

Harvard research showed the Initiative’s impact on air quality could also help prevent asthma-related illnesses in thousands of children. The Initiative has received pushback from GOP lawmakers, who see it as a gas tax for consumers, since suppliers would likely raise prices after their costs increase.

Climate change legislation in the state requires at least 45% greenhouse-gas reduction by 2030.

Brown contended not passing Senate Bill 884 would create an even bigger barrier for the state’s climate goals.

“We’re already going to be delayed by two years, because if they approve it this year, it doesn’t go into effect for another two years,” Brown explained. “In terms of the ramp up, and the credits and the sales, and actually starting to reduce emissions, and generating money.”

In Connecticut, the measure could generate an estimated $1 billion between 2023 and 2032. The state, along with Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Washington DC, is among the first jurisdictions to commit to launching the initiative.

References:  Senate Bill 884
Greenhouse gas emissions data U.S. Energy Information Administration 03/02/2021
Health and emissions study Harvard School of Public Health 02/25/2021
Public Act 18-82 06/06/2018
Transportation and Climate Initiative Program Transportation and Climate Initiative Dec. 2020