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Green For All on Latest Step in Multi-Region Transportation & Climate Initiative: Use Our Guidelines to Ensure Final Agreement is Responsive to Low-Income Families, Underserved Communities

As 12 States &  DC Release TCI “Memorandums of Understanding” Today, Leading Environmental Group Seeks to Prioritize Equity in End Design of Regional “Cap & Invest” Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. [12/17/19]—Twelve states across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, as well as Washington, D.C., today released a draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlining their commitment to develop a regional low carbon transportation policy as part of their participation in the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI). In response, leading environmental group Green For All called on the state officials to adopt a set of policy recommendations to ensure the program delivers equitable results in the final version.

“It’s a work in progress,” said Michelle Romero, National Director of Green For All. “States are still figuring out how to design this program in a way that meets the needs of the region’s disproportionately impacted communities. That’s why Green For All delivered a robust toolkit to states last week with detailed recommendations for how to do this right.”

Last week, Green For All, a program of Dream Corps, released their policy recommendations for the agreement to ensure it is responsive to the needs of low-income families, disproportionately pollution-impacted neighborhoods, and transit-underserved communities. The toolkit, titled Designing an Equitable Cap-and-Invest Program for Transportation, provides specific recommendations and policy guidance to help state officials craft and finalize their forthcoming multi-state “cap-and-invest” program.

Community-based groups from disproportionately impacted communities responded to the announcement by calling on states to address some of the previous short-comings of similar programs.

“With its reliance on market forces, the TCI cap-and-invest project must be designed to produce emissions reductions in under-served communities surpassing the disappointing achievements of the market in areas such as affordable housing and healthcare,” said Samuel Jordan with the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition.

State officials reiterated their commitment to equity as part of the program design.

“We’re committed to transparency and continue to actively seek input from the public throughout this process,” said Kathleen Theoharides, Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. “We want to thank Green ForAll on behalf of all of the states and thank all of the groups, organizations, and community members who have worked with us to help shape the program and create this toolkit. We appreciate the continued dialogue and constructive engagement we’ve had.”

“The jurisdictions are all committed to designing a policy that works for everyone,” said Chris Bast, Chief Deputy Director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. “We recognize that as we transition to a low carbon economy, we must look to maximize the clean air and economic benefits of that low carbon economy for communities which have historically borne a greater burden from our existing fossil fuel system, otherwise the transition away from fossil fuels will simply exacerbate existing inequality.”

The Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) is a regional collaboration of 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia that seeks to improve transportation, develop the clean energy economy and reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector. The participating states are: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.

The regional agreement is expected to be in place by spring 2020 with states finalizing the model rule for cap-and-invest to specify the cap and price levels, as well as parameters for the use of proceeds generated by the program by the end of 2020.

Read Green For All’s toolkit at greenforall.org/tcitoolkit.

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About Green For All: Green For All, a program of Dream Corps, is a national program that is working to build an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty. We work at the intersection of the environmental, economic justice, and racial justice movements to advance solutions to pollution that uplift low-income families and communities of color. Learn more at greenforall.org.