Letter: TCI: Low cost, high benefit ways to target vehicle emissions

Posted 4/27/21

To the editor:

I write concerning the letter you published on April 15 entitled ‘Transportation and Climate Initiative will hike fuel costs,’ from Larry Fitzmorris.

Mr. Fitzmorris …

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Letter: TCI: Low cost, high benefit ways to target vehicle emissions

Posted

To the editor:

I write concerning the letter you published on April 15 entitled ‘Transportation and Climate Initiative will hike fuel costs,’ from Larry Fitzmorris.

Mr. Fitzmorris seems to misunderstand the transportation and climate initiative (TCI). legislation. 

TCI is a “cap and invest” program, crafted over the past 10 years to help our transportation systems transition from carbon-emitting fuels to renewable energy. The transportation sector is now Rhode Island’s largest emissions source. We will not reach our goal of zero emissions by 2050 without great changes in RI’s transportation. The good news is that this is possible, at a manageable cost. Further, there are many benefits from starting the process as quickly as we can.

TCI will improve air quality and public health, provide more affordable access to clean transportation choices while promoting local economic opportunity and creating higher-quality jobs, and small business opportunities. Special efforts are included to address the inequitable impact of transportation-related pollution in overburdened and underserved communities.

TCI, if approved, would begin in 2023. Its cap on carbon emissions will descend year-by-year, with a 10-year target of 30% below the 2023 level. Wholesalers of gasoline and diesel fuels will be required to purchase emissions allowances to cover the amount of fuel sold. To limit the impact on consumers, the allowances are set at approximately five cents per gallon of fuel. Raising the price of gasoline and diesel will NOT be used as a tool to reduce fuel use. Instead, sales of allowances to wholesalers will create a tolerably limited amount of seed money to increase the efficiency of our transportation system. Overall, it is expected that allowance sales will yield approximately $20 million per year in Rhode Island – $20 per Rhode Islander. 

These funds will be used to leverage investments like the following: charging stations for electric vehicles, financing or rebates for such vehicles, zero-emissions buses and improvements in public transportation and highway designs. Others would reduce transportation-related pollution, thus reducing cases of asthma, other respiratory and heart diseases. TCI funded projects will be determined by the citizens of Rhode Island, especially those in affected front-line communities. Progress will be transparently presented to the public.

Rhode Islanders will recognize that this process is like our Regional Greenhouse Gas program (RGGI), which has reduced carbon emissions of electricity generation and supported efficiency programs that have reduced the electricity we use, as well as our electric bills. In fact, RGGI has been a model for the development of TCI. 

Mr. Fitzmorris fears that TCI is an example of government domination, but it is the people of Rhode Island who will choose how TCI investment funds are used to better our transportation system and our lives. Please consider the low cost and great benefits of TCI and ask your legislators to support it.

Peter Trafton, MD

Little Compton

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