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Press Release: Big Moment for Transportation Equity

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Northeast Region Commits to Inclusive Economic Recovery and Local Air Quality Improvements Through Transportation and Climate Initiative Program (TCI-P)

Washington, D.C. – December 21, 2020 – A group of New England Governors and Mayor Bowser of D.C. made major commitments today through the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) to significantly reduce tailpipe pollution and build an inclusive economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

TCI’s regional “cap and invest” policy will generate over $3.2 billion cumulative proceeds for CT, DC, MA, and RI between 2023-2032 to build a more fair and just zero-emission transportation system. In a “cap-and-invest” program, states place a limit on carbon emissions and require fuel distributors to purchase allowances for their pollution under the cap. The auction of allowances would generate funds, which states could invest in needed transportation solutions such as mass transit, affordable housing, electric buses, safer biking, and walking paths.

Dream Corps Green For All has worked for over two years to advocate for key guardrails and guarantees in the program to ensure that it protects and prioritizes the communities hit first and worst by poverty, pollution, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The final memorandum of understanding (MOU) includes critical provisions that center these communities in the program with the following:

  • Dedicate at least 35% of funds to disproportionately impacted and historically underserved communities. 
  • Establish community advisory boards with majority representation from disproportionately impacted communities to help develop investment recommendations and evaluation metrics.
  • Require states to monitor air quality and report annually on localized emissions in overburdened communities to support improved air quality.

The signing jurisdictions will immediately begin to form Equity Advisory Bodies to continue to shape the program’s adoption and implementation in the states before the program fully begins in 2023. With a 35% dedicated investment, in the first year, states will generate $100 million for “overburdened and underserved communities” in these four jurisdictions alone, which would yield the following:

  • Massachusetts is projected to raise $177 million in the first year, with a minimum of $61 million dedicated to “overburdened and underserved” communities. 
  • Connecticut is projected to raise $97 million in the first year, with a minimum of $33 million dedicated to “overburdened and underserved” communities. 
  • Rhode Island is projected to raise $23 million in the first year, with a minimum of $8 million dedicated to “overburdened and underserved” communities.
  • The District of Columbia is projected to raise $6 million in the first year, with a minimum of $2 million dedicated to “overburdened and underserved” communities.

“We’re pleased that states heard community concerns and chose to heed the advice and expertise of both Green For All and community leaders to develop a stronger, fairer program. Many of our recommendations are incorporated into the agreement and will help ensure historically underserved and pollution-burdened neighborhoods see the benefits they rightfully deserve. The final commitment requires states to track air quality in heavily polluted communities, dedicate funding to clean transportation projects in neighborhoods that need it most and provide meaningful opportunities for impacted residents to shape what those projects look like where they live. Obviously, there are a lot of details still to work out and to get right. But today’s announcement is a positive sign that the education we’ve done to raise state policymakers’ consciousness around what it means to design antiracist policy is beginning to take hold. We look forward to continuing the work together to deliver a pollution-free future for all,” says Michelle Romero, National Director of Dream Corps Green For All.

“This is an important time in our history.  We are pulling together, as communities and neighboring states, to build back better on a sustainable and equitable path out of this pandemic disruption. The cap-and-invest Transportation and Climate Initiative will improve air quality, invest in cleaner electric transportation, transit, and increased active transportation.  The robust equity and environmental justice provisions built into the initiative make sure that we are investing in communities that were deeply impacted by decades of dividing and polluting interstate projects and concentrated air pollution.  Transport Hartford and the Connecticut coalition supporting this initiative applaud this week’s announcement by the first states signing on to move forward together,” says  Anthony Cherolis, Transport Hartford Coordinator at the Center for Latino Progress

Interviews with Michelle Romero, Tony Cherolis, and additional community partners are immediately available. 

Dream Corps Green For All works at the intersection of the environmental, economic, and racial justice movements to advance solutions to poverty and pollution. Through bipartisan advocacy and storytelling centered on the voices of Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and low-income communities, Green For All advocates for strong, resilient, and healthy neighborhoods through strategic policy campaigns to build a green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty. Visit greenforall.org to learn more.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mariah Chinchilla, Communications Manager, [email protected] 

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