Governor Gina M. Raimondo announced yesterday that Rhode Island has joined the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI). It's an historic, bipartisan program that will be a game-changer in cutting motor vehicle pollution, which is the region's greatest source of greenhouse gases. TCI will create a cap-and-invest program that will cut this pollution and use the proceeds – $20 million a year from 2023 to 2032 – to invest in our communities. TCI will propel RI to modernize transportation, improve public health, address environmental inequities in low-income communities, and protect residents from the impacts of climate change. Here's how leaders are reacting.
"We must take strong action to protect Rhode Island from the impacts of climate change," said Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. "That is why I prioritized the creation of green infrastructure financing programs at the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank that have already invested tens of millions of dollars in projects across our state, and it is why I support the TCI to help Rhode Island transition to a resilient and clean energy future."
"Exposure to air pollution from the transportation sector affects the health of Rhode Islanders when it comes to heart and lung diseases, strokes and asthma attacks, and even COVID-19. And the reality is that where you live has a lot to do with how much exposure you have to transportation related population," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health. "All Rhode Islanders in every ZIP code throughout the state deserve an equal opportunity to be healthy. The work of the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program will help make this vision a reality by bringing an equity focus to this work. We look forward to being a part of this critical collaboration and doing everything we can to give all Rhode Islanders the chance to breathe free and thrive."
"We have already taken a number of steps to reduce the impact from fossil fuel-powered vehicles, including our impressive bike path system, our highly successful Providence to Newport Ferry, and most recently, our initiative with the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources and National Grid to install electric car charging stations at our Park & Ride lots," said RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr. "We support this new initiative."
"We know that public transportation already helps to reduce pollution by decreasing the number of single-occupancy vehicles on our roads, but we also know that there is much more progress to be made," said Scott Avedisian, Chief Executive Officer of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority. "TCI enables us to make a greater difference by providing a funding source that can be used to support improvements and enhancements in public transit – whether it be more frequent service, the acquisition of electric vehicles, more rapid bus lines, or improved transit infrastructure such as bus-only travel lanes."
"Rhode Island is committed to economy-wide reductions in harmful greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants effecting our climate and public health," said State Energy Commissioner Nicholas S. Ucci. "Yesterday's announcement on the Transportation Climate Initiative is another important step toward decarbonization and investment in more sustainable communities. Along with her nation-leading goal of meeting 100 percent of our electricity demand with renewables by 2030 and establishing pathways for heating sector transformation, Governor Raimondo has continuously challenged us to take bold steps to combat global climate change."
"The Narragansett Bay region is being hit hard by a rapidly changing climate. Rising seas and increasingly frequent and intense storms are harming habitats, causing damaging flooding along rivers and streams, eroding shorelines and threatening iconic public access points along the Bay," said Jonathan Stone, Save The Bay Executive Director. "We support Rhode Island's participation in TCI as a way to further reduce greenhouse emissions. The initiative imposes a declining cap on carbon emissions from the transportation sector and provides an efficient means to incentivize emission reductions. Revenues generated by a modest tax on carbon will be directed toward investments in infrastructure, low-emission vehicles, mobile workforce technology, public transit, and low-income communities hardest hit by chronic air pollution from vehicles."
"Not only will TCI reduce emissions from the most polluting sector of the Rhode Island economy, but it will bring much-needed investments to the communities in our state that most need them," said Johnathan Berard, Rhode Island State Director of Clean Water Action. "This program will not only expand mobility options for all Rhode Islanders, but will also improve public health and begin a transition to a clean energy future for our state. We applaud the state's firm commitment to center this work in equity and justice and prioritize the needs of frontline communities."
"Governor Raimondo has demonstrated real leadership in signing the bipartisan, regional Transportation and Climate Initiative MOU," said Hank Webster, Rhode Island Director and Staff Attorney of the Acadia Center. "TCI is not just about curbing climate-warming emissions, but also improving local air quality, particularly in neighborhoods that bear the brunt of tailpipe pollution. This collaboration will help Rhode Island invest in transit improvements, safer biking and walking lanes, and broadband, as well as vehicle electrification. Besides the significant environmental, public health, and economic benefits, TCI offers Rhode Island a unique opportunity to better connect our 39 towns and cities so residents and tourists alike can discover all that our vibrant communities have to offer."
"The Partnership embraces Governor Raimondo's vision of a 100 percent clean energy future," said Tom Giordano, Executive Director of the Partnership for Rhode Island. "Market-based programs, like TCI, will allow us to reduce Rhode Island's transportation emissions and to invest in our clean energy future. We congratulate the Governor for reaching this significant milestone."
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