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Governors abandon traffic pollution reduction pact

BOSTON – Governor Charlie Baker is abandoning his administration’s ambitious plan to create a multi-state organization to dramatically reduce traffic pollution after the agreement failed to gain traction in other states.

The announcement comes after Democratic Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, a supporter of the initiative, said this week he was withdrawing from the Climate and Transportation Initiative. Rhode Island is the only state that has expressed an interest in the area.

Baker quickly followed suit on Thursday. Republicans initially hoped more than a dozen states would sign.

“The Baker-Polito Administration has always maintained that the Commonwealth will only move forward with the TCI if more states have committed to it, and since that doesn’t exist, the transport climate initiative is no longer the best solution. for the transport and environmental needs of the Commonwealth,” Baker stressed Secretary Terry MacCormack said in a written statement on Thursday.

Governors of other New England states – New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont – have expressed skepticism about the program, in part because of concerns that it leads to a gas or carbon tax.

The proposal is a long-term effort to limit greenhouse gas pollution caused by transportation.

It will require large amounts of gasoline and diesel oil fuel suppliers to purchase “allowances” for pollution from fuel use that they sell in the area.

Quantity emissions Under the plan, the allowance will be reduced each year, creating billions of dollars for states to invest in low-carbon transportation options – like public transit; zero-emission buses, cars and vans; tram toll stations; High-speed wireless Internet in rural and low-income areas to enable remote connectivity; bridges repair; and safer bike lanes and sidewalks.

According to Baker, the initiative could have generated more than $1.8 billion in Massachusetts by 2032. States participating in the initiative have agreed to invest 35% of annual revenue from the program for communities that are not served by current transportation options and have disproportionately high levels of pollution.

From the outset, however, critics – including business and conservative groups – pointed to the potential gas price Long walk. If fuel companies pass the cost of the allowance to consumers, gas prices in the area could rise by between 5 and 17 cents a gallon.

Paul Diego Craney, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Financial Union, welcomed the institution’s demise.

“TCI is a regressive gas tax plan that will hurt the middle class and the working poor the most. It is great news to see that Massachusetts families will not be forced to endure the economic hardships that TCI will impose on them,” Craney said.

Transport and environment groups say TCI’s goals remain important.

“It is for the benefit of the Commonwealth as a whole – but especially our environmentalist communities, who are most negatively impacted by traffic pollution and the COVID-19 pandemic – reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon emissions and exhaust pipe pollution must remain a top priority,” Josh Ostroff of Transportation for Massachusetts, said in a press release.

MacCormack said the administration is focusing on the $10 billion or so the state will receive for transportation under the infrastructure law signed into law this week by President Joe Biden.

“The new federal infrastructure funding package, investments in the US Rescue Plan, as well as a surplus of tax income due to Massachusetts’ strong economic recovery put the Commonwealth in a position of position. better to upgrade roads, bridges and public transport systems, and to invest to reduce traffic emissions, provide equitable transport solutions and benefits, and meet full climate goals. state ambitions,” he said in a press release.

Massachusetts has taken other steps to reduce pipe pollution including setting a goal of 100% zero-emission passenger vehicle sales by 2035, joining 14 other states in driving 30% electric vehicle sales for commercial truck and buses by 2030 and 100% by 2050, and spend $65 million on electric vehicle charging stations.

Baker also signed an executive order setting a 100% zero-emissions target in the state’s fleets by 2040.

In New England, transportation is responsible for more than 40% of greenhouse gas emissions.

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